How do you react when things don’t go your way? Do you resist? Do you go with the flow?

Now, we don’t like it, do we, when things don’t go our way? I mean, who would? When the best laid plans go awry, we’re often left with a sense of injustice. After all, there’s a reason why we were hoping for things to go a certain way, and we tend to feel punished if they don’t.

It’s a normal reaction. And it’s often an easy one, because we’re so used to reacting that way. But it doesn’t mean that this reaction feels good.

What if there was an alternative? What if we were to take every bump in the road as an opportunity to learn?

Recently, I experienced a pretty major setback in my training. I spent weeks conscientiously working towards a goal which really was a big deal for me. Since it felt like an important achievement to strive for, I did all that was in my power to succeed.

And, just as that goal was within reach, I was suddenly blindsided by what felt like the most random injury.

It wasn’t something that I could have predicted—it was, in fact, so completely off my radar that I hadn’t even considered that it could be a thing. But there it was.

So, did I crumble amidst wails of Whhhyyyy is this happening to meeeee?

Actually, yes. I did. For a couple of hours. And then I chose to look at it differently.

Instead of staying in a victim mindset, I shifted to an inquisitive mindset, and gave myself a new focus: I can learn and grow from this; what is the universe telling me?

By choosing this new viewpoint, I was able to shed the hurt and the resentment attached to a situation over which I had basically no control, and move into a more positive space.

What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it.
If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
Maya Angelou

This can only work if we stay completely out of the blame game. Blaming is a trap. Blaming—whether it’s blaming ourselves or blaming someone else—keeps us looking back instead of forward.

When we blame, we’re keeping ourselves marinating in unpleasant feelings. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not down with emotional marinades (food-based ones, yes, but they’re a completely different topic!)

Switching out of a resisting, negative mindset can allow us to harness the forces in place to create some movement, some action. As long as we go into it without any judgment, it moves us from a passive state to an active one, and puts us back into our own power.

We don’t have control over the circumstances. But if we take responsibility for our reaction, then we can grow.

So what can we learn?

There’s really no right answer. The same event can help us learn so many different things—about ourselves, about others—depending on the context. Circumstances that seem outwardly similar can yield vastly different lessons according to our inner state.

We can also encounter situations over and over again until we’ve finally been able to distinguish all that we have to learn from them. I tend to believe that the universe will not relent in sending us lessons until we get them—whether it’s through gentle discovery or jarring collision.

Looking for the lesson doesn’t mean that we’ll get it right away. We often don’t. Sometimes we can start to feel it on an emotional level without being able to intellectualize it right away. And that’s perfectly ok.

What matters is reminding ourselves that there’s something to be learned somewhere in the situation. By doing so, we are keeping our heart and soul open to the opportunity.

Do you actively look for lessons, or do you wait for them to club you in the head?

Enjoy this article?
Then make sure to sign up so you can have access to even more of the good stuff!