There’s an old saying that says “when life gives you lemons make lemonade”. It sounds positive and makes you feel like you have some control over what happen to you. Yet when life does get us lemons, through things not going the way we wanted them to, the first reaction is usually to complain about how hard life is.
The old saying tells us that it is possible to take what is happening and make something good out of it. Yet, it can be difficult to understand some of the hardships that before us. To some it seems like they’re cursed while to others life’s challenges are a constant frustrating annoyance.
Problems in life happen to everyone. Sometimes we think there are people that just have good things happen to them. In reality we don’t see the full extent of their life so we don’t really know. The big difference is how people see and react to the things that happen to them.
Challenges in life frustrate us when we have set our heart on a goal. We devised a way to achieve that goal and set out on the journey only to have obstacles put in our way. Challenges are less frustrating if you take a different approach. Set your heart on a goal and set out on a journey to reach that goal without having a hard and fast way of achieving it. When obstacles appear in your way, learn from the challenge and take a modified route. There are many ways to reach your goal.
When life gives you lemons it doesn’t mean the end of what you are working towards. Challenges in life are actually lessons, if we choose to see the lesson. There’s an old saying that tells us there is a silver lining in every dark cloud. What it means is that something to learn from every challenge. Having life present you with a heap of lemons, is never a good experience. By their nature lemons are sour. Upon sucking on one you usually get to do all sorts of gymnastics with your face in response to the taste. Yet lemons processed correctly and used as part of a recipe provide a pleasant taste.
Challenges when processed properly have the same result. We are provide with a learning experience, a strengthening of character and in the recipe of life, a necessary part of what makes you who you are.
I believe that the challenges that come our way are often wake up calls. They push us to change and take the next step. They start as small nudges that often get ignored until finally they become so large that we have no choice to stop and listen. How many times have you heard of people having life changing wake up calls that set them on a new path in their life?
So what should we do when life delivers lemons?
Be more positive in your approach. Sure the situation is going to hurt, disappoint and frustrate you. I don’t advise you to do the stiff upper lip and just get on with it. That just buries how you feel and comes with its own problems. If you’re hurt and angry it’s okay to acknowledge it, but just don’t stay there. Look at what’s happening and see what the lesson is. What is the situation telling you about yourself and what needs to change?
You can’t stop the challenges from coming. Learning to work with them at least finds the good in the bad. I love what Dan Millman writes in his book “Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior”
And I reflected that, ultimately, we have no control in this life—no ability to stop the waves that come crashing down. We can only learn to surf those waves, embracing whatever comes and using it to grow. Accepting ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, our foolishness and our love. Accepting everything. Doing what we can, and flowing with the rest.
Sometimes we get the lesson but don’t know what to do with it. If you find the lesson, want to apply it but don’t know how, be open for someone to help you with that. There is another old saying “when the student is ready the teacher appears”. I believe that. But for the teacher to appear, you need to be open for help from someone else. Just because we see the lesson doesn’t mean we are the ones that have to work out how to apply it all by ourselves.
I’ve spent a great number of years encountering challenges ranging from small to extreme. Over time I have learned to find the value in those challenges and to use them to grow.
As a counsellor and a coach, I often work with people who are facing some horrendous challenges in their lives. Those challenges become their point of change and through working with me they have been able to put in place change in their lives.
Challenges don’t have to be the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage of your journey.
(c) Tracey Janke – StartPoint Counselling 2015