We're all familiar with the phrase "every cloud has a silver lining," where clouds signify some unwanted situation and the silver lining refers to the good that comes out of it. I've never been a huge fan of this phrase for a couple reasons. First, clouds are awesome. This phrase makes clouds out to be the villains when they're just facilitating some good, old fashioned biosphere activity we all need to, you know, live.
Second, the phrase smacks with a sense of "making do," settling, and patting someone on the back with an "at least it wasn't worse." It carries the energy of shrugging resignation.
Of course this is not always the case, as language is our imperfect attempt at capturing complex thoughts and emotions, but all things considered, we can do better than "every cloud has a silver lining."
Taking ownership of one's experience of life means actively engaging with the multitude of contexts of life in such a way that enables you to THRIVE through life, rather than just survive from year to year.
It's common for people to become more jaded, cynical, hardened by life's content. It's extremely common that the more we see of life, the more we double down on early-instilled beliefs that the world around us is not for our benefit, it is a place we must fear first, love later. Expect disappointment and failure, hope to be pleasantly surprised, but don't hold your breath. "Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best" is a favorite unknowingly self-sabotaging mantra of so many.
All of life's challenges are opportunities to come through changed for the better, more self-aware, capable, resourceful and creative. Challenging circumstances can be the training ground where you develop a deeper sense of Self, deeper clarity around purpose and connection, a greater sense of peace. Instead of settling for the silver lining, try one of these phrases instead, to help you grow through difficult times:
1) Everything is an invitation.
Invitation to what, specifically? Everything is an invitation for us to show up as who it is we're aspiring to evolve into. Life is full of chances to choose who we are showing up, and the challenges are the chances to show up as our aspirational selves in spite of circumstances that we could crumble under instead.
2) What can I learn/how can this grow me?
Choosing what you want to learn in the face of challenge can be extraordinarily empowering. This life is one big series of attempts over and over again. There is only one finish line, and the time leading up to that finish line is a series of lessons you can choose to become more skilled at, or not. Patience, love, resilience, focus, commitment, these will be tested time and time again as we move through life, and if we consciously decide to improve in these areas, challenging situations can be the perfect classroom.
3) Where is the good in this?
A friend of mine had a cancer scare recently, and as she settled into the idea of potentially having a difficult, scary road ahead of her, she decided to find the good in her situation as she waited for medical results. During this time, she'd found clarity in her priorities: her most important relationships rose to the top. Quality time being present with herself and others became paramount. The hurry, stress, and extra fillers of life were seen clearly as unnecessary and not worth her precious time and attention. Thankfully, it was not cancer, and the good she found during the waiting stage became fixed as the center of her life, which wouldn't have happened without such a challenge to confront.
These phrases are just a start, and of course, sometimes easier said that done. If you struggle with maintaining an empowered mindset in the face of life's content, reach out via email. I also offer free discovery calls where we can connect personally about more personalized tools would fit best to help you grow into the next, more empowered version of you.