The Size of Your Struggle
It’s a beautiful idea. Psychologists call it adversarial growth or post-traumatic growth. “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” is not a cliché but fact.
“The struggle against an obstacle inevitably propels the fighter to a new level of functioning. The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth. The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.”
– Ryan Holiday: The Obstacle Is the Way
Imagine that. Something super challenging happens to us. It’s a struggle.
We can either break down. OR grow.
The exact same event can elicit post-traumatic stress or post-traumatic growth. Seriously. Same exact event. Two different people. Two different responses. Two different results.
What’s the key determinant?
Our PERCEPTION, of course.
Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, studies how and why we perceive the things we do. Here’s how he puts it: “First, students learn the ABC model: how beliefs (B) about an adversity (A)—and not the adversity itself—cause the consequent feelings (C). This is a point of major insight for students: emotions don’t just automatically flow from external events, but from what you think about those events, and you can actually change what you think.
A + B + C. [Adversity + Beliefs + Feelings] Got it.
And, I just love the way Ryan tells us that “The size of our struggle determines the size of our growth.” It makes sense. Think about some of the big goals you set in your life thus far, and then the struggles you had in attempting to reach them. I bet this was a season of growth and maturity. Yet on the flip side, when we are super comfortable and ‘going through the motions’ of life, we are learning nothing and declining.
John Maxwell says it best, “You are either ripening or rotting.” And often times the ‘ripening’ comes as a result of adversity and tough times.
Think about it.