Being divorced at 23 is not very aspirational. Nor is it common. A decade ago, I was the only one in my peer group at that age with a failed marriage. But now, with the gift of hindsight, I can see that what felt like an unbearable experience was one of the greatest turning points of my life.
If you’re in the middle of a crisis or feel a deep sense of discontent, you can take some solace in the fact that something good is very likely on the way. Here’s why.
1. Contrast is useful.
A breakup. A fallout with a friend. Getting fired. What do these things show us? What we truly want. A bad relationship sparks our desire for a healthy, loving, constructive one. A fight or confrontation with a friend or colleague allows us to value peace in our day-to-day lives. Losing a job gives us an opportunity to consider what it is that will make us happy at the next stage in our career. Contrast inspires new, fresh exploration and desires.
2. Crisis demands evolution.
A few years ago my friend Di was hospitalized for exhaustion. No one was surprised (except her). She’d been traveling the world nonstop, opening new stores for the retail chain she worked for.
Often, the universe will do for us what we will not do for ourselves. An unexpected illness will halt our workaholism. We’ll get laid off a job that’s been chipping away at our soul for years. An argument with a roommate might fuel our confidence to live alone or even move to a new city. A crisis is often the cornerstone of anyone going to the next level in their lives.
In crisis, we are forced to pause. To reflect. To make a choice. Painful as it is, the story always ends with a fuller version of you. Nobody shrinks to new heights. We expand through struggle, because nothing good happens within our comfort zone.
3. You build resilience.
No one is excited to improve their resilience through suffering. I’m not in line for my next traumatic life experience to build my inner strength. But nobody escapes life without hard moments. And allowing that suffering to develop our inner strength and compassion is entirely up to us.
As Sheryl Sandberg says in her bestselling book Option B, “You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process, you will figure out who you really are—and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”
There’s nothing like a crisis to make us evaluate our lives. Spiritually speaking, suffering is our greatest teacher. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? What is this revealing to me?” And in your toughest moments of pain, “How can I see this situation differently?”
The fortune within the misfortune may arise sooner than you think.Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!