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There is no such thing as a fairy-tale Brady Bunch kind of life.

We each have our own individual hardships, sufferings, and disappointments.  Our hearts have been broken…sometimes more than once.  We may not have had the best childhood or are struggling today with something.

As painful as each of these events may be, they help shape us into stronger, richer, more conscious individuals.

When my friends and clients bring up past events and situations that caused them pain, I always ask: “What is the silver lining? What did you learn from the event? How did it make you a better person?”

Here are some examples:

  • For the child who moved around a lot and ended up in many different schools, the silver lining could be learning how to make friends or the discovery of a love for traveling
  • For the person whose job got downsized: the ability to pursue your passion or remake your life
  • For the child who grew up in an abusive home: inner resilience and strength
  • For the person who lost the love of his or her life: the opportunity to spend time on your personal passions or the opening of a door for your next love
  • For the person with a health issue: the ability to focus on and expand your world based on what you can do or aspire to do

Every painful life event shares a gift with you if you stop and look for it.  Often these gifts show up after you’ve moved through the initial pain of the event, but it can be comforting to know that they are there while going through a life event.

As I look at my life and my life journey, I can clearly see the many gifts I have received from some of my most difficult experiences: patience (that was a tough one to learn!), empathy, compassion, independence, the ability to let go and trust that everything will work out for the best, presence and being present, and that no matter how broken my heart may feel, it will heal and I will be able to smile and laugh again.

What are your silver linings?

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