You know what they say: When life gives you lemons…

Actually, we have two options to finish this sentence. Either we take the bitter substance and turn it into valuable ideas that make us better, or we let the juice of bitterness seep into open wounds and prevent them from scarring.

It’s a tired, shitty analogy, but I think the point is clear. Every bad experience that we encounter in life will give us a chemical burn in the heart or will remain in our ears whispering wise things that were not contemplated before.

Lessons through personal pain are unpleasant, but they definitely resonate in a way that few other moments do. When certain things happen to us, we fundamentally change. Whether we make it a positive transformation or a debilitating pain marker is the part we control.

The honest experience may be that the initial agony feels like a knockout and that there is some truth in realizing that sometimes we wake up face down on the mat.

We have to find out what happened so we can recover. When we stand up again, the immediate aftermath of dizziness can create a thick fog of cognitive dissonance.

Sometimes we stumble. Sometimes we need to lean on the people who love us while we reorient ourselves. Recovery is never instant. That said, as the fog lifts, we often have the opportunity to look at the world with new eyes.

If we are willing to maintain the dichotomy of self-acceptance with the challenging concept of total responsibility for ourselves, something special happens.

We begin to walk towards clarity. We see each other without judging each other. This encourages a sincere interest in learning to be better, to be different, to protect ourselves, and develop the goodness that is inherent in us.

A knockout is temporary. That doesn’t mean it’s not painful and shocking. However, disorientation can be used to see the changes that can be made to improve ourselves and make us more resistant to future bullies.

Becoming less fragile can be a tremendous strength. One of the best skills in life is being able to walk away from the devastation and perform a forensic analysis. It’s a learned skill that often needs to be practiced at the most inconvenient times, but it’s one of the best survival skills we can have in our repertoire.

We will all encounter difficulties on our journey. Whether distressing times reduce who we are or increase who we can be is our choice.