Have you ever wondered why some of the people who have faced the most hardship have intensely developed personal skills? Have you wondered what it takes to transform hardship into gifts like these people have?
There is one understanding all these people have come to realize. It has allowed them to transform intense suffering into life-giving gifts. They’ve unlocked their uniqueness and discovered the positive impact they can make in this world. Although this one key idea can be summarized in a sentence or two, it takes a bit of background to fully understand.
Is Hardship a Gift?
In a previous blog, I mentioned how I don’t think it is destiny for us to experience hardship. For this reason, I also don’t think hardship occurs by divine intervention to teach us about our gifts. We already have these gifts. Depending on how we look back at painful experiences, we can choose to notice these great personal skills. It’s our perspective after the fact that matters.
This means we have the ability to learn from hardship, even though it didn’t come to teach us a direct lesson. Beyond the things we can learn, we can also notice how we got through the hardship. These latter realizations point us towards our strongest personal skills.
How Does Hardship Show Us Our Best Personal Skills?
We call some difficult situations annoying. We call others uncomfortable or stressful. As they increase in intensity, we refer to them as painful, hard, agonizing, or traumatic. This latter group, of life-altering situations, is the type of hardship where we can see our best personal skills.
All of us have different ideas of what trauma and hardship mean to us. If someone else would consider your situation easy, but you see it as something nearly insurmountable, that’s perfectly valid. You can consider it a hardship, no matter what other people say. We all have the right to define our own trauma.
Hardship pushes our limits. It bends us farther than we thought we could handle. This is intensely difficult and painful, but it’s also where our strongest personal skills step in.
When we are bent out of shape in this way, we naturally want to bend ourselves back into shape. To do this, we turn to the skills we know and trust. We return to our root talents, the things we have perfected and can fall back on when we feel completely overwhelmed by a situation. No matter what we’ve experienced, we can access our complete array of gifts, but the more serious the hardship, the deeper we go into our talents.
Why Look Into the Past Anyways?
Many of us are told to be aware of past mistakes so we don’t repeat them, but when was the last time you heard “look back at the times you succeeded and realize how you got to that triumph”? We tend to undervalue accomplishments in our society, so looking back with this perspective can create an intense sense of healthy pride and self love.
Related reading: Self Love is a Process, and That’s Okay
Doing this helps us learn how to effectively apply ourselves to current challenges, dreams, and goals. If you realize you have talents that got you through a trauma, imagine applying those personal skills to benefit your current relationships or career!
This is why it’s worth looking into the past. To congratulate ourselves and to realize how we can use our past as fuel for our current dreams, goals, and desires.
Examples of the Skills Hardship Shows Us
Each of us is a unique individual, so none of us will have the same set of personal skills or the same situations that helped us access them. In case you’re still a little stumped on how hardship demonstrates our best gifts, here are a few examples varying in intensity.
Let’s start with a pretty common example. Let’s say you lose something of important value (like your phone, a family ring, an important document). Naturally, it significantly stresses you out. How you start looking for the item shows your best personal skills. Do you methodically retrace your steps? You might have a great memory, be detail-oriented, and patient when solving problems. Do you not even bother to look hard and move on? This demonstrates a strong sense of resilience, un-attachment from material things, and trust in yourself to survive without what you lost.
Now let’s jump to something a bit more intense. A pile of hardship happens all at once. You’re struggling with finances, your partner and you are distant, your physical health is poor, and you generally feel overwhelmed. You might start making lists of what you need to do first to improve. This demonstrates thoughtfulness and organization. If you start job hunting immediately, you persevere and quickly act on tasks you need to. If you drop everything, take a walk, and let yourself be upset and overwhelmed, you might be mindful, contemplative, and in tune with your emotional needs. Even if you scramble around trying to solve everything at once, it shows a willingness to work under stress.
Unlocking These Personal Skills
Every reaction demonstrates powerful personal skills. Sometimes they need to be tamed, amplified, or understood more, but the foundation of the talent is there. Looking back helps us see this. They are unlocked first through this examination, then through understanding the skills, then by further developing these talents.
Try this: First, think of a hardship that pushed your limits, but something you overcame, and write it down. You may also want to write what limits it pushed.
Next, reflect on the actions you took to handle this hardship and write these down too. Focus on the most beneficial and impactful actions if you have a lot in mind.
Finally, for each major action, brainstorm ways you think this is a talent of yours. Get creative and know that it’s okay if it takes some thinking to come up with anything! I’ve included a flow chart below with a personal example of mine from the past, in case you’re a visual person like me.
Using These Gifts to Fuel Your Current Dreams
Here’s the golden part of this post: using past hardship to move closer to our current dreams and goals. There are only three steps to this process too. I’ve continued my previous example from above to demonstrate.
The first step is to write down a current challenge, goal, or dream you are focusing on.
Next, look at the last part of your previous flowchart (the part with your personal skills) and think of what skills you wrote down that would help you accomplish this dream or goal.
Finally, brainstorm ways to amplify and implement these skills into your current life. What did these teach you? How would they benefit you the best to use now?
So What is This Whole Idea, Simplified?
This idea is all about looking at past hardship from a new perspective. Instead of it limiting us, we can see it as showing us our core talents. When we realize these, we shift from a mindset of hardship limiting us to hardship showing us how we can expand our life.
Hardship pushes us to our limits and shows us our strongest personal skills. When we reflect on past pain with the desire to find these gifts, we can unlock our greatest talents. Discovering these innate gifts shows us the parts of ourselves we can always rely on.
Now, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What is one way a past hardship has taught you about a great personal skill you have?
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