Blog 19

How Do You Transform Challenges Into Opportunities?

I was walking with a friend the other day and we were chatting about life in general. She asked me a question, “Vidya, why do some people turn challenges into a place to grow, while others crumble and become cynics?

This question got me, even though this is the theme for LifeVidya! Maybe that’s why it got me. I secretly rejoiced, “Is she giving me a slanted compliment by even asking me that question?” And in a second, I was wondering about the gravity of her question.

What is she going through in her life that makes her ask this question? Is there a way I can contextualise my thinking and our conversation? And as you can guess that wasn’t just a walk to activate our physical bodies, there were neural connections being made as we spoke.

If I were to risk being simplistic, and share what I learnt with bitter experience and oodles of suffering over many years, I would say,





And as I write this, I realise that it is not simplistic at all! It wasn’t simple at least for me.

It takes more courage than I ever had, I lost more friends than I made, however I felt grounded and centred.

So, I guess, learning to see setbacks as levers for change is a choice.

It is not a choice that comes easily given the conditioning of society where we do not allow a child to score poorly in a test. We are not acknowledge our setbacks and struggles growing up, there is no space for failure, no space for reflection! Parents, society, and the world only value marks, grades, and achievements. No one values the learnings that come from failure.

As a result, no one wants to experience the pain of failure and reflect deeply on the causes. We deflect and find excuses and there are always infinite excuses for why something can go wrong. And our life continues as a series of reasons, excuses, failures and an excellent breeding ground for a critic or a cynic. In essence, we destroy ourselves.

When you look around, you will see many people who have it easier and simpler than you do. You will wonder, “Why me?” And that is a self-destructive question that can further drain you of emotional and physical energy.

What if you were to ask, “How can I make this better?” or “What is it that I can do?”, then our brain cells are stimulated to think and revisit the situation objectively.

So yes, what are the questions you ask yourself when you face a setback or a challenge? The quality of your inner talk decides if you convert the challenge into an opportunity for growth, or as a further spiral downward.

The third aspect that I feel really makes a difference is the quality of people around you. Who are your “go to” friends? Do you have any? What is their perspective to life?

When you talk to them do you feel a sense of widening of your perspective and a growing courage or do you feel further deflated and restricted?

Please note when you reflect on this, you are not judging the friend, you are evaluating the quality of the energy transfer between the two of you. This can become destructive and negative between parent and child, or even best friends or lovers. If you find yourself feeling defeated and drained, it is time to distance yourself and take time out solo. You may travel alone, go on a retreat, find a spiritual hideout, or just find time for yourself.

The quality of the interactions you have with your circle will determine if you feel supported or isolated. It is better to go solo than have destructive family and friends. Seeing this perspective for what it is also takes courage.

Going solo does not necessarily mean you severe ties, it means you find space and time for yourself and start cultivating a relationship with yourself too. You need this to be able to reflect on your own patterns. Perhaps your destructive patterns were serving other’s needs, you will never know as they would not have the awareness or consciousness to tell you.

Now all this work can make life very heavy and overwhelming. So what helps is to integrate happy routines into your self-work.

Start your day with the sunrise, your favourite beverage, a good book to read and perhaps even write your gratitude notes. Start your day slow, make sure you get up early to take out time for yourself. Make it a habit, a date with yourself, do it every day, and see how much you learn to enjoy your own company.

As you gain perspective of your challenge be it work, family, health, finances or some other challenge you will find new ways of working, thinking and being.

Be patient with yourself, it won’t happen in a day, a week, a month or even a year sometimes. But in a few days, you will experience a difference in you. It is still fragile, stay within, work, and respect your boundaries and solitude.

Stop comparing your life with others. Stop engaging with people mentally or emotionally who judge your life by their values. Start aligning with your deeper self, take time out to breathe, walk solo, engage in art, and continue doing your work, whatever it may be.

Learn to find happiness in small things and learn gradually to sense the energy of people around you. Engage with discretion and be respectful and loving in your heart towards all.

Preserve yourself, reflect on yourself, grow yourself and your challenges will either vanish or your perspective to the challenge will change. Either way you grow.

Transitioning is a journey; transformation is a life-long effort.

Remember, there is divine grace in every challenge. “Pain is the hammer of the gods.” (The Mother, Integral Yoga) This hammer is often needed to break our hard exteriors that forgot the purpose of our souls and got sucked into meaningless mainstream monotony.

If you read this far, maybe tomorrow you can take out time with yourself to be yourself. If you have a challenge that you don’t know how to go through, you may start with the question, “Is there anything I can do or even think about differently?”

Take time to embrace love and feel the sunshine of the universe as you walk the path.

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