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Elaine Fairweather

Table of Contents 10th October 2009, Issue #018

This Month's Article:
Challenges have Purpose and Meaning in your Life
Tip of the Month:
The Compassionate Response

Challenges have Purpose and Meaning
in your Life

Life on earth has always been risky and has always presented challenges for humans. Travel back in time for a few moments and you’ll see what I mean.

Back in the era of cavemen and women life might have been simpler, but no less difficult. There was probably but one main focus in life – survival. A hand-to-mouth existence centred on hunting for food, sheltering from the elements, and where defending against the threat of rival tribes was the order of the day.

Move on to the Middle Ages and you may have lived under the threat of being imprisoned for your beliefs or killed if you were thought to be a witch. There was also the risk of catching the plague or dying in childbirth.

In another era so much depended on marrying well to facilitate a secure life, which may well have been at the expense of any real feelings between the parties involved. A lot more unhappiness may have been borne in relationships because there was no way out of the marriage contract.

If you have lived during a war you will know of the danger of you or your loved ones being injured or killed, and the hardship of shortages of food and supplies.

In the 1950s, there was great fear of nuclear war with the prospect of anihilation of the human race. Today, the world has its own particular set of problems to challenge us with global warming, financial meltdown etc....

.... and that is just the background to any personal problems you might have!

You get the picture. Life has always been hard. It seems to be the intrinsic nature of life on this planet to present its inhabitants with challenges and difficulty. Why would this be?

What is suffering for?

I do not believe the purpose of life is to suffer, but perhaps we do suffer because we have not understood what our true purpose in living is. For as long as we continue to look for the magic formula for an easy ride and the happiness of an untrammelled existence we may be missing the point.

You can change the relationship you have with the challenges in your life by re-interpreting their meaning. Viewing them in a negative light may evoke a response to complain, avoid and protect yourself. Seeing difficulties as opportunities to grow may call forth your positive qualities and resources, and cause a higher order of happiness to be experienced in this less than perfect world.

Ten revealing questions

When you stop struggling with the fact that a challenge exists you are freed up to be with what IS, instead of what might have been. The point of power is always in the now – not in the past or in the future, NOW. Accept that there are always challenges and you can use these to your advantage.

When you start to look at your earthly span as a series of opportunities to learn and to grow, things do get easier. Instead of reacting against all that happens, you begin to go with the flow and that is where ease comes to be experienced.

There are a number of questions to ask yourself which will automatically put you on to the path of least resistance and maximum power:

What am I here for?
What can I learn in my situation?
What can I give?
How can I become a wiser, better person?
How can I grow and develop as a person?
How do I WANT to develop or change?
What is my purpose in life?
If I had designed my life to be what it is, what outcome would I have been looking for?
If my life was a set of lessons, what should I be learning?
How can I fulfil my purpose?


Imagine you are in a kind of maze where you can only see the path behind you and a little way ahead. You know there are other paths in the maze. Sometimes you come to a place where you have to make a choice of direction but you cannot see where each one leads.

These thought-provoking questions can help you rise above the maze so you can see your path relative to both the outside and the centre. You may be surprised with some of the answers that spring to mind. Treat them as pointers to your direction. Give them serious consideration and if appropriate, follow them.

When you view life’s challenges as the means to grow and respond to them accordingly, you imbue your life with a sense of higher purpose. As a result you stop being a victim of circumstances and are able to act powerfully and confidently, in any situation.

What does this mean in practice?

When you are faced with a problem, look for the best way to interpret it. If you being challenged in one of your weak areas, you might welcome this as an opportunity to become stronger in it.

Perhaps you are being challenged by the suffering of someone close to you. This might be an opportunity to find ways of supporting them that you have not found before. If for instance you are a problem-solver by nature and you have no remedy to offer in this situation, you might learn more about the emotional form of support.

While you resist the circumstances that afflict you, you will not find the golden opportunity that may be wrapped up within them. You might not value such opportunity at first, but with practice, you may come to love the personal resources and power you find within yourself as you respond to the challenges in your life.

This Month's Tip
The compassionate response

Before you take offence when you observe someone being bad tempered, rude, or neglectful, imagine what might have happened to make them this way. Remember this person might have received bad news. They may be in pain or exremely stressed.

It’s easy to become drawn in with feelings of indignation or anger and to criticise. Instead, be compassionate and give them the benefit of the doubt and you will avoid experiencing an unpleasant emotional backlash.

This is not suggested as an alternative to standing up for yourself in an adult way when this is appropriate.


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I hope you enjoyed this edition of Self Confidence Secrets. If you would like to make comments, offer ideas, suggestions or give feedback, I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this zine and tell me what you think.

See you next month!


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