There are times, I believe when our soul chooses difficult or challenging experiences for us to learn something really important. Perhaps something that could not be easily learnt another way. It’s true that experience is a great teacher and that the things we learn through our own experiences, especially challenging ones are not easily forgotten.
Joseph Campbell, well known for his work in comparative mythology, talks about the pattern of the hero’s journey, where the hero often face great ordeals and challenges, in order to bring back knowledge and some type of ‘treasure” for themselves and the community. As with many myths, the hero’s journey can provide a map for our own journey.
As in the hero’s journey, it is often at the point of greatest challenge, even darkness and despair, that we have the opportunity to find the treasure or the gift. Recognising this gift and finding a way to bring it back and share it in some way with the community is what imbues the journey with a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
So too, by acknowledging and even celebrating the gifts we found in our darkest and most challenging times, allows us and others to be enriched by the experience. In this way, our experiences can be seen as soul-building rather than soul-destroying.
Without recognising the gifts in our experiences, we can remain stuck in the nadir or the lowest point in our journey and not fully make the return journey.
The gifts we find in such times can be apparent to ourselves and others and in this case may be more available to share. At other times, we can feel overwhelmed by our experiences, even traumatised and may find it more difficult to identify or benefit from the gifts that are less easily recognised or articulated. I have found that asking questions is a great way to explore our experiences for deeper meaning and perhaps hidden gifts.
Here are some questions that may be of help to get you started:-
what did I learn from this experience?
What qualities or traits did I develop to meet this challenge?
What inner resources did I find to help me deal with this experience?
What learnings can I take from my experience to benefit my own life or someone else’s
If there was a gift in my experience, what is it?