Or: about the sophisticated art of discovering possibilities in times of great trouble; and the way to see the good in bad situations.
Life can be a tough ride. It’s harsh, hard and slaps you occasionally in the face. Sometimes, it seems like a never-ending struggle from one problem to another. And as if this wasn’t enough already, we encounter every once in a while an incident that is so severe, so drastic and shocking that it changes our life forever. Unfortunately, in most cases this change is not for the better.
Feel free to skip the intro to see how to discover opportunities in times of setbacks.
There are times in life, when a door is proverbially slammed right in front of your face. I’ve experienced one major life-changing event, and of course a couple of minor events that everyone else undergoes as well, like being left, given notice, stolen from, etc.
And certainly, I asked myself whenever I encountered one of these “minor life-changing events” why it was always me who had to endure such an awful thing. That was until I grew older and was confronted with a truly “major life-changing event”. It did not only make me realize how insignificant most of the minor happenings were, but it also elucidated all the things I could no longer do in my life. It made me realize all the doors that had been slammed shut, never to be opened again.
I spend a lot of time in grief about all the doors that were closed and all the opportunities that were missed. It was a tough episode in my life, but time is a great healer, as they say, and so I began to make the best out my situation. And after many, many months I had learned to at least deal with the situation. But it took me a lot of reflection and courage to discover all the doors, windows and opportunities that had presented themselves only as a result of this major life-changing event.
Only when I was brave enough to accept the situation I found myself in, only when I was courageous enough to let go of the bitterness concerning the missed opportunities, I began to discover new paths and even more exciting avenues. I do realize now that – especially this tough and difficult time – paved the way to something new and made me the person I am today. If someone would ask me if I wanted to experience a similar thing again, I would certainly answer no, as it was something you wouldn’t even wish for your worst enemy. But, I wouldn’t want to miss all the amazing opportunities it brought me.
There’s a lesson to be learned in everything that happens to you. And it takes a lot of courage to discover the windows that were opened by such a situation. Remaining in grief and self-pity, or entirely giving up is always the easier alternative. But in reality, some doors and windows can only be opened, when an existing door is closed.
When a door closes, look out for the window that opens!
In the following I will show you some of the most important steps toward finding the good in bad situations.
#1 Take yourself a break, time will heal!
That’s in my opinion the single most important aspect in discovering opportunities in times of great trouble. Naturally, you might not see any new window opening when your emotional wounds are still open and the pain is still felt. Your situation might seem hopeless, while the memory is still fresh. Therefore, it’s so important to give yourself a hiatus, before even thinking of looking for a window that has opened. [Of course, this only applies to very severe happenings!]. The reason why I’m stressing this out lies therein that you will not be ready to discover any opportunity, if you haven’t allowed yourself some time for yourself to come to terms with what happened.
Depending on the severity of what happened, this can take months or even years! But time heals all wounds; it may not restore things, it may not change your life to the better, but it allows you to come to terms with the past.
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If you allow time to pass, you will notice that many new opportunities have presented themselves, and may have already been integrated into your new life. This often goes unnoticed, at the first moment.
#2 Distract yourself
Try to get distraction, by focusing on things that do not remind you of what happened. Treat yourself to something good. Also, by keeping yourself engaged in an activity that totally absorbs your mind and soul, you will more likely think about positive things, for a longer period of time.
#3 Develop acceptance
Secondly, acceptance about what happened is needed before you are ready to discover new possibilities, challenges and unnoticed options. The perfect moment to search and discover the windows that have opened is when you do not feel any more grief about the door that has closed.
#4 Have the courage to find new possibilities
Does it take courage to discover and accept the windows as what they are? Yes, certainly! I can only relate to my situation, but it took me a lot of courage to discover these new opportunities and just as much courage to see what could be found behind these windows.
#5 Avoid comparisons with the door that closed
The difficulty for me lied therein that not all of these new opportunities looked worthwhile at all. Especially not when compared to my past lifestyle. And this was a major mistake, which prohibited me from discovering all the new fantastic windows and doors much earlier. I firmly believe that I would have never chosen to discover what could be found in each new opportunity, if I had continued to compare all of them with the doors that had closed. So, it was tremendously helpful for me to clarify that a new chapter in my life had begun, whether I liked it or not.
Therefore, it’s so important to let go of the door that closed. In most situations, the windows that opened through a troublous time do not look like new opportunities at all. Many of them seem much more like a step backwards, but I realized that most of them turned out to be very profound and enriched my life.
#6 Go with the flow and don’t force things
I know from my personal experience that most of the new circumstances do not immediately present themselves, after a door has been shut close. Also, the attempt to force new doors to open is in my opinion counter-productive. Rather than doing that, I would recommend you to simply “go with the flow”, i.e. by doing whatever feels right to you at the moment. A while later you will automatically know if these things have developed into new opportunities or not.
#7 Discover the lessons and internalize them
Number 7 applies to mildly bad situations, but not to all malign happenings. Many bad situations we encounter in life bring a valuable, mostly hidden, lesson. And in fact, depending on your own insight about life, a lesson can be drawn out of nearly every stroke of faith, (not all though!) By finding the root cause for a bad happening, you have the chance to learn a lesson out of what happened, in order to avoid similar occurrences in the future.
The following articles might also interest you:
- How to stop worrying about failure?
- How to listen to your heart?
- Develop trust in yourself!
- Walk a mile in a person’s shoes to develop empathy for them
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