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  • Writer's picturePenny Muller

Loving the lessons

Updated: Mar 1, 2022

Is it possible to learn to welcome challenging experiences, viewing them as gifts and teachers?

I think it is, and I'm exploring this possibility more and more, particularly as I'm realizing the extent to which we create our reality. We really do call all of our experiences in, and we do this by setting intentions, either consciously or unconsciously. Then, these experiences start to come into our orbit. This applies both to positive and negative experiences. Naturally, we welcome the positive experiences that we have called in, but we forget that we have also called the more challenging experiences to us. Somewhere within us is the intention to experience the challenges so that we can learn and grow.

It starts off with a Step 1 moment (Abraham Hicks), where we have an experience that we are not wanting. This leads to a so-called negative feeling in response to this moment. Our mind then steps in with a thought to match the feeling.

Unwanted experience: Experiencing a part of our work as not being enjoyable

Feeling: Bored, stressed, overwhelmed, trapped

Thought: ''I don't want to do this job any more. I wish I didn't have to work here''

So, in our Step 1 moment, we have sent a desire out into the universe. We might also have sent out a clear intention - "I am going to have a new job one day''

Because the law of attraction means that our thoughts become our reality, we will attract experiences that align with this intention. A situation may arise in which we are fired from our job, made redundant, or where we become sick and unable to continue to work. In this case, we often say to ourselves; ''I can't believe this happened to me'', ''This is so unfair'', ''This shouldn't have happened'', or ''It was her/his fault''. We forget about the clearly formed thoughts and intentions that we sent out into the universe that were acknowledged and responded to. Although we don't always recognize our desires, deep inside we all want to live happier, more fulfilling lives, and deep down, as souls if not as humans, we all want to grow and develop. Things don't happen to us, they happen for us.

I think it would be rare that we would have a time in our life when we are not experiencing some kind of challenge. There are usually multiple things that we're managing at any given time. Our default position is to feel that life is piling things onto us and that we are victims to life's injustices. A few years ago, I had adrenal fatigue that prevented me from continuing to do the work that I was doing. There was significant financial and emotional fallout from this. I didn't welcome this experience as a friend. I fought it tooth and nail, continuing on as usual for two years before I made the decision to relocate, and then, another six months later, to use my savings to take some time off. In our efforts to be masters of our fate, we can be slow learners.

Before the illness, I had been branching out, trying new work experiences. I organised to use my rostered days off and my leave to teach the Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care once a week at a secondary school in Melbourne. I enrolled in a Master of Education and started writing an Early Childhood blog. I then worked as a trainer and assessor for early childhood at an RTO in the city. I was also working really hard on my classical singing, doing as many competitions as I could. I was working on writing projects and running to the library after work to make a website. This was more than just feeling and desire. This was action. When we take action towards what we are wanting, our intentions are recognized. The universe recognized that I was ready to move forward. Now, I realize that without my experience with illness, I might have delayed taking that next step. It's not at all easy to step out into the unknown. Sometimes we need a push.

Dealing with a debilitating setback certainly didn't feel like moving forward. But, I now recognize that my work life, wellbeing and mindset have all improved out of sight as a result. I also recognize that it wouldn't have been nearly so difficult if I had only surrendered to the experience rather than fighting it. And, maybe I could have welcomed it, made friends with it, even loved it a lot sooner than I did. I learned some very important lessons. I learned that I couldn't control life, that trying to be perfect was not serving me, that health and emotional wellbeing must be prioritised, and that I was strong and willing to find the positives through a difficult time in my life. When the symptoms resurfaced, I believed that there was still more that I had to learn, and that maybe the lessons had not been consolidated to the level that I had wanted when I called the experience in. I tried to focus on learning the lessons rather than on fighting the symptoms.

I've been trying to reinforce this concept in other areas of my life. Since the illness, and particular during the last couple of years, weight gain and body image have been two of my biggest challenges. I'm not very comfortable talking about this as there will be those that don't relate, and I'm also embarrassed that I made such superficial things so important for so many years. But, these are struggles for many people. It never occurred to me that this would be an issue for me, because for years I had it under control. Very tight control, which was not at all healthy or beneficial, physically, emotionally or socially. And, wow did I fight this to the death. Again, a slow learner. So, last year I had a Step 1 moment, and that involved deciding that I didn't want to live with this challenge for the rest of my life. I decided that I was willing to do all that it took to completely heal my relationship with food and with my body. My intention was to learn to enjoy food and social situations that involved food, and also to develop an appreciation for living in my body regardless of how it looked.

There have been so many times that I have been tempted to lapse into my default position - restriction and control, but every time there is a little tap on the shoulder: ''Your desire was clear. Your intention was clear. If you give in now, you will be back where you started." Going forwards into the unknown is always more advisable than going backwards. These skills and mindsets are transferable, and because of my strong commitment to growth, I have called in an experience that reflects one of the areas in which I am most vulnerable, one of my greatest fears. And this is how it goes. I suddenly had this insight a couple of days ago. I have continued to clarify my intention of how strongly I am committed to learning this lesson, and until I can learn it to the extent that I am wanting, I will continue to have this challenging experience. And, as I am becoming more aware of this incredible support from the universe, I am more and more open to seeing this experience as the gift that it is. It is happening for me so that I can reach new levels of awareness and joy.

Yes, it can be terrifying to relinquish control and welcome challenges into our lives. It is not an easy ask. Imagine, though, the freedom it could bring, the gradual release of worry and fear about what might happen to us. As previously mentioned, our soul is designed for growth even if we don't feel that we want it, so believing that we can control every aspect of our experience is futile. It will only lead to more fear when the outcome is not what we are wanting, and when instead, an undesirable experience happens in our life. We need to stop focusing on the 'how' and instead clarify the 'what': ''What am I wanting?'' And we can welcome the challenging experience and ask it what it has come to teach us. We are then required to listen to our inner wisdom and guidance. The more quickly we can embrace and learn the lesson, the more quickly the challenging experience will do its work. The more that we can love it, the quicker we can thank it and let it go.

As said, these upgrades in consciousness can be used in other ways, so once the lesson is learned, multiple aspects of life will feel easier. We will experience levels of joy that we didn't know were possible. If we can view it from this perspective, there are no possible downsides. Challenging experiences can be life altering traumas or small, everyday frustrations. Maybe we're feeling tired, sad, under stimulated, or annoyed at others. Maybe we're sorting through childhood experiences or reliving past hurts or rejection. Maybe we're afraid of the future and this is causing stress and anxiety. We might be experiencing a lack of confidence, or self-worth, or joy. Stop and listen. "Why have I called you in?" ''What are you here to teach me?" ''How can I welcome you, love you, and thank you?'' Try to give up fighting with the unwanted and choose to build a new habit of thought. Embrace the beautiful lessons that are gifts from the universe. Release the struggle and enjoy the wonderful experience of life.

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