How I Turned My Pain into My Purpose
Over the course of our lives, we all have bad things happen to us. From serious illnesses to tragic events, everyone accumulates their share of sad and crazy stories to tell.
But that doesn’t mean we need to carry the weight of those events on our shoulders as we move forward through life. We each have a choice over how we react to the not-so-great things that inevitably arise and upset our worlds now and again. And in fact, if we learn how to, we can actually bundle up those awful experiences and turn them into a gift.
Here’s how I did that very thing.
I never wanted to get divorced. However, events transpire all the time that no one could have ever predicted. And within just two short years of getting married, I’d acquired the undesirable title of “divorcée”.
What I didn’t know then was that my divorce would ultimately became a gift in a way I never would've anticipated.
We often have an opportunity to learn from the challenging situations that we face. And not only did I learn and grow immeasurably from my experience of navigating the divorce process, but afterwards I also felt driven to share what had I learned with others and to help shepherd them through this difficult period of their lives.
What I gained from getting divorced (as opposed to what I lost) is what prompted me to build my business.
Now, in retrospect, my venture down that path may seem predictable or sound obvious. But let me assure you, after getting through my divorce, for a while there it was the very last thing I wanted to think about. The events felt traumatic, and focusing on that period usually pulled me into a depressive funk.
Responding by ultimately deciding to dedicate my life to this area was certainly not a route that was immediately apparent or intuitive to me. If anything, at first, my instincts pushed me in a direction completely counter to that.
My divorce, and my newfound identity as a twenty-something divorcée, was something I naturally felt inclined to hide - not something I was eager to share with those around me. My marital status seemed embarrassing at best and shameful at worst.
This new label - divorced - struck me as being reductive and disempowering. As a twenty-something re-entering the dating world, my status as a divorcée felt akin to a scarlet letter I was now doomed to done.
So, given that this was how I felt, it begs the question: how did I transform my pain into my purpose? How did I bridge that gap, navigate that transition, and come to view my pain for the area of opportunity that it actually was?
I largely attribute it to 3 actions that I took:
1. I dedicated myself to personal growth.
First, I worked on myself - a lot. I saw a therapist. I started working with a coach. I read a number of amazing books and listened to many inspiring podcasts. I reevaluated who I was and (more importantly) who I wanted to be.
And I continue to work on myself to this day. (I don’t actually feel that there should be an end to this process).
Part of what differentiates us as humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ability to consciously transform ourselves and change over time. We are constantly evolving and regularly rewiring ourselves.
The beauty of this is that it means we have the capacity to continuously learn and grow - we are armed with the unique opportunity to improve. And if we choose to take advantage of that opportunity, there are countless improvements to be made.
When we operate from a growth mindset and consistently seek out ways to change ourselves for the better, we begin to view and frame the challenges that present themselves in our lives as opportunities. And from that perspective and vantage point, it’s not difficult to envision how a painful experience could prove to be transformative and, ultimately, perhaps even inspirational.
2. I shifted my perspective.
Recovering from a trying experience rarely happens overnight. The healing process can take some time.
For me, the capstone to that healing process was finding a way to alchemize my trauma - to turn it into something valuable that could help others. Discovering how to perform that alchemy served as a real tipping point for me. I found that by coming to view my experience as a gift rather than a wound, I was released from the trauma of it.
When you’re able to take the lessons you’ve learned and the knowledge you’ve gained from going through something difficult and are then able to help other people go through it as well, that’s when you truly heal.
As soon as you realize that everything you’ve suffered and all of that pain you’ve endured can now help someone else, it instantly alchemizes into something that’s valuable. Something that, with time, you can maybe even be grateful for.
And once you’re grateful for something, it’s no longer trauma. It’s a gift.
3. I checked my ego.
Although the pain I experienced from going through my divorce was pretty personal in nature, I later recognized how many other people were going through the same thing and experiencing similar challenges as they sought to navigate the process themselves.
And I realized that although my pain was uniquely mine, I could do something with that pain that extended beyond myself. I could give meaning to it and all that I went through.
Instead of merely having suffered, I could leverage my experience to assist others. If I could check my ego and take my focus off of myself, I had the potential to help a lot of other people.
In order to take this leap, however, I really had to let go. I had to acknowledge that it would be tough for me to reflect on all that I went through, but at the same time I had to accept this would be a necessary part of the process.
I came to recognize that the pain I experienced due to my divorce could be for a greater good. And if it was going to continue to get triggered, at least it would now be for a reason I believed in. Something worthwhile.
My intention in sharing these steps that I took isn’t to come off as preachy. (I’m very sorry if I have). Rather, I’d like this post to serve as an invitation to you to look at the areas of your own life that you’ve viewed as particularly trying or difficult and come to reframe them as spaces of potential opportunity.
What if you could take that pain you suffered and give it meaning? Experience catharsis? Or help others who are now going through something similar?
Working in the area that I do has, hands-down, been the most fulfilling experience of my life. I feel so blessed and so grateful to have the chance to help others navigate one of the most difficult periods of their lives and to make that experience less painful for them.
What have you gone through? And how could you leverage your own experiences to help others who find themselves in similar circumstances?
While your pain may not ultimately turn into your purpose as it did for me, it still holds the potential to transform into something more - into possibility.