Health issues which lead to not being able to continue your job, negative interactions with another person, high blood pressure during pregnancy, breaking an arm or the end of a marriage are negative situations. These things have all happened to me but looking back I see some positive things resulted.
I started my working life as a teacher in a primary school and I intended to make this my lifelong career. Less than three years down the track I had to take leave without pay as I was experiencing problems with my throat and classroom teachers need to be able to talk, sometimes loudly.
Fortunately I was able to undertake other work and so I did house cleaning and odd jobs until I got a transfer into a position in the Education Department where my voice wasn't under stress. I had some interesting experiences while cleaning and doing other jobs in various homes. The experience made me see myself as able to adapt to a change in circumstances.
Recently I had some negative interactions with another person. I was upset by this as I don't enjoy conflict or drama. However, as a result of this event I turned to others for support. The friendship, level headed advice and hugs supplied really helped me. The bonds of friendship have been strengthened with those who provided support.
When my obstetrician said I would have to spend the last three months of my first pregnancy in bed due to high blood pressure I burst into tears. It meant I couldn't continue working or doing any of the other things I was accustomed to doing. I was also worried about the baby I was carrying but both he and I were fine after the birth.
Having three months in bed gave me the opportunity for creative writing and to do all sorts of things I didn't usually have time for. I had time to reflect on life in general and I formed a close bond with the baby growing inside me. I also came to realise one can lead a full life, just in a different way, if restricted to one's home.
When I was employed as a support worker with a woman who couldn't use her right arm as the result of a stroke I had more insight and understanding of her limitations due to having broken my arm when I was a teenager.
The end of a marriage brings turmoil and tears. However, down the track I found a sense of freedom. I learnt to do various tasks for myself because I had to do them and this brought a sense of independence. I returned to study at university which I enjoyed immensely.
When one is in the middle of a negative situation, one doesn't want to hear platitudes about 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' or that it will all work out in the end. One doesn't appreciate being told that it is a learning experience by someone who isn't going through a difficult time. However, sometimes later on you can look back and see some good came out of the experience even if it is simply the knowledge that you will survive life's negative experiences.
Thanks for your response to my article, Carolyn. Many of the negative experiences we have also help people feel empathy for others. Some people then go on to form a support group or a writing or art therapy group to help others recover from trauma if they have experienced that sort of event/events. Because they have had negative experiences they are able to help others so much more effectively than someone who hasn't lived through them. Groups of this type can become very close so something positive can come out of it all.