We all go through periods of darkness. Whether we had a hand in it or tried to do everything right, it's still gone wrong. Things happen. There are various ways of handling struggle, and here's one of the hardest:
Seeing the good in the situation.
During the housing crisis, I spoke to many families who bought a home they could afford yet still found themselves in foreclosure. Some could no longer pay their mortgage because they were under or unemployed for long stretches. Others were completely swindled by shady loan officers, Realtors or developers who put them in a loan that didn't suit their needs. The most heartbreaking were the older people who had paid off their homes but were encouraged to take out a reverse mortgage, only to find that the terms were not affordable.
How do you find the light in those instances?
I won't lie, it's exceedingly tough.
But it's also absolutely essential to moving forward. Life cannot and should not be defined by setbacks, unless they're setups for something greater. Here are a few tools I've learned to help focus on the light that you cannot see:
1) Have faith. You're not sure exactly why this is happening. You've always worked hard, paid your bills on time, never done anything illegal or unethical. Yet you're in this hole and not sure what you did wrong or how to fix it. This is the time to remember that there is something great for you at the end of this struggle, but you will have to work through the trials in order to get it. A way out is being made, and part of getting to it is by doing what you can control.
2) Find your part in the story. Sometimes things come at you and there's nothing you could've done to stop it. Other times, you're completely at fault for the outcome. Usually it's somewhere in the middle, but regardless, it's important to see the reality of a situation and ask yourself if there's anything you could have done differently. This is not to make you feel bad, only to recognize your power, learn and grow from any situation. As Oprah says, "Use your life as a class."
3) Accept without conceding. What's happening in your life, even if it's been going on for a while, does not define you, nor is it a guarantee of what's to come. Acknowledge the reality of where you are, have faith that there is something greater for you, accept your part in this chapter of the story, and commit that this is the last time you'll live in this type of darkness. And then:
4) Make a change. Do an honest assessment of your actions and consider asking a trusted friend or family member to weigh in. (We can't always see ourselves as clearly as others can. Just be sure you're listening to the right person as everyone is NOT worthy of your story.) Next, get about the business of improving yourself by implementing at least one change. You can change more than one thing as time goes on, but in this moment just take one thing and fully embrace that.
5) Be a teacher. Help others to not end up where you did by sharing your story with whoever will listen and learn. Remember, you've accepted the reality of the situation, so this is not designed to be a pity party. You're letting others know what happened to you so they can protect themselves. This may have to come after you've worked through the emotions of the darkness, because it's going to be critical to be objective.
And so it is.