Ep9: How To Shift Your Struggle Into Your Greatest Strength

Jan 7, 2020

The most natural thing in the world is to believe that your obstacles are what hold you back from  accomplishing your goals and creating what you desire.

But is that really true? Ancient philosophy of stoicism teaches us that your struggles are actually the key to your destiny – that your obstacles are actually opportunities waiting in disguise. In this episode, Heather shares  some raw and real stories from her childhood her family’s past to help you turn your trials into triumph by realizing that what you believe to be your struggles are really your greatest strengths waiting to be born.

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Email: hello@heatheraliceshea.com

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Episode Transcript:

Welcome to the Everyday Intuitive Podcast. I’m your host, Heather Alice Shea, intuitive life coach trainer, status quo shaker, and founder of Atmana Coaching Academy. Listen in each week to break up with your comfort zone, claim yourself confidence, and radically embrace your role as an intuitive healer, mentor, and sought-after coach. Let’s get within and get after it.

Today, we are talking all about how to shift your struggle into your greatest strength. The most natural thing in the world is for us to believe that our obstacles are in our lives to serve the really painful and annoying purpose of holding us back from accomplishing what it is we really want to create and do in our lives.

And today I wanna question. I wanna really open up the floor to question here whether or not that’s actually true. What if that isn’t true for you? There’s an ancient philosophy called stoicism, which teaches us that our struggles are actually the key to our destiny. They, the ancient Stoics believed that obstacles were actually signposts in our life asking us to change direction, in a way, that’s more informative and more true to the path that our soul actually wants to walk through life.

So from that perspective, our obstacles are really our greatest opportunities waiting in disguise. And so today I want to challenge whether or not our obstacles are actually even obstacles because I really do believe that they are our greatest strengths waiting to be born.

And so to encapsulate this, I am going to do something pretty crazy and vulnerable for me to do. I’m gonna share a story from my father’s personal journal. And as you listen into this podcast over the time as I release episodes, trust me, you’re gonna be hearing a lot about my father.

He and I, we’re very, very close. He passed away 13 years ago. There was ever two human beings born as soulmates. That was me and my dad were like the same person, just incarnated into two different bodies. So I don’t think I have, I don’t know, maybe six hours of my life put together where he isn’t on my mind or that I don’t feel something of his legacy in my life.

So I think it’s only natural that I share him and his life with you. So give you a little bit of backstory before I read this story, he wrote about his childhood. My dad grew up in a little town called Cedar Key, off of the Gulf coast of Florida, and he grew up super, super, super poor. I don’t even think this, he had a pair of shoes, until he was maybe in the third grade.

Before he passed away my aunt, his sister gave me pictures, all of the pictures from his childhood. And I was shocked to see in his class pictures in school, that he didn’t wear shoes to school. That really none of the kids did. It was a very poor, just, you know, fishing town. Everybody lived off the land. You were, talk about one with nature.

You didn’t grow it or kill it. You didn’t eat . So, he had a very, very rough life in that way. And I think learned was put in situations. When he was young that were, were, was certainly him in over his head. And so I think the story that I’m about to read you illustrates that really well. So this is called the story of the jumpers by William Wesley Booth.

As a small boy, my father would allow me to go fishing with him. We had a large boat from which we worked and we used to sleep on it during the changing of the tides to get out of the bad weather. And behind it, we pulled skiffs or small boats with our net, saw them to go out for the strike. And when we found a school of fish, we would drop the anchor, kill the engine and tie the skiffs to go out for the strike or to put our nuts around the fish to catch them. And this must be done quickly before the fish could break up or reach deep water. And my job was to make sure that the anchor was thrown clear off the boat while my father untied the smaller boat.

And as a small boy, I would miss getting onto the skiff because the anchor had to be released from the extreme bow of the boat. I then had to run to the stern of the launch before my dad pushed off. I always felt like a failure when I missed this skiff. I felt like I let my father down. He never said that and he never would, but he never waited on me either.

I had no idea the lessons he was teaching me until much later. And as you hear this, it might sound harsh on my father’s part. But back then, you were not dealing with the quality of life. You were dealing with a survival situation every single day. And when I missed the action, I recall sitting on the big boat, longing to be with my father.

And after the nets were set, he would always come back for me. And I recall the nervous anticipation as he would approach. It was still exciting, even though I had missed the first strike. And when I was in the skiff, I was allowed to keep all the jumpers or the fish that jumped to avoid the net that would inevitably land in our boat.

I would sell them at the fish house for a few cents. And I recall one time off the east end of seahorse island. So many had jumped into this gift. My father said that I would have to sell them with the rest of the catch, and I must have shown my disappointment because my father explained that this was my chance to help earn money for the family.

I had never been so proud as I was at that moment. My dad didn’t say a lot about things like that. So coming from him, it was gospel. I never kept the jumpers again. I was nine years old at the time. Four years later, I would have my own boat, net, and motor. Thanks to my father, but that’s another story for another time.

What I love about this story is I think it perfectly illustrates the truth that sometimes life is going to ask of you things that you are not ready for. My father at the age of nine, started working to feed his mother and his sister and his little brother. Nine years old, a shoeless poor little kid would go out for the strike every day and pray for a good catch so his mother could eat.

And that was his legacy. And that’s certainly not something we would ever wish on any nine year old to be in that situation. So it’s true. I think as we look at our lives that we’re going to be asked to do things, and maybe right now in your life, you’re asked to do things that you don’t feel ready for, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t able to handle it. It means that you’re being asked to rise to the occasion.

And I really believe that in saying yes to that and in saying, okay, dad, I won’t keep the jumpers. I will. I will claim my ability in this moment at this young tender age, in this fledgling little state with my wet wings and my sea legs, as it were, you know, and all my frailty.

I’ll say yes to doing the thing that seems so impossible. I really do believe that that act is us embracing our destiny. And another thing that I take away from this story as I hear it is that adversity is such a gift because it’s character building. You find out who you are when you’re faced with things that feel insurmountable.

And so often when we find ourselves in rough times or with a problem we can’t solve or something that is just continues to nag or linger in our lives, I think the reason why it nags and lingers is that we’re not really believing in our ability or our capability to overcome it. And so obstacles then I think are really about you understanding or knowing that you’re strong enough to do it.

Despite, you know, even how you might feel every fiber of your being might be telling you that you aren’t. But the fact that that obstacle is in your life, we can choose to see that as evidence that you are. So in other words, it’s not something that’s come to harm you or to block you or to keep you down or hold you down or keep you small. It’s actually the very thing that’s calling you into your greatness.

And so with that being said, I invite you to look at where the jumpers are in your life. What are those things that as you look back on your life, you have felt happened to you before you were ready, or asked things of you before you were ready.

I encourage you in this moment to change the narrative on those things. So you can be disappointed that you can’t sell the jumpers at the fish house for some extra money, or you can see it as an opportunity to give to those that you love, or to make this world a better place. It’s all about how we choose to look at the obstacle.

Is it serving us? Is it helping us? That’s a choice we can make to see it that way. Is it hindering us? That’s a choice we make to see it that way. In other words, another way to say this is look at everything in your life that you feel has been traumatizing. You know, most people that are empaths or intuitives and people who work in the healing profession are probably called to this work.

Very honestly. You didn’t become a coach. You probably had some pretty heavy stuff happen in your own life that you had to learn how to get over and in doing so, you want to be able to help other people do that as well. So you probably have some, you know, one or two, maybe three or four trauma experiences in your life, or things that have stuck with you, you know, that you haven’t maybe been able to let go of.

In this moment, you can choose to see them as blessings. You can embrace your jumpers and see it as an opportunity, not an obstacle in contributing to the world in a meaningful way. And also I think a big thing that helps with this is to understand that the universe is asking this of you because it knows that you can handle it.

So you can take this knowledge with you, into your present, knowing that whatever adversity you’re feeling right now is really a warm up. It’s like the beginning of a workout. You know, you’re warming up for a bigger, a bolder, a greater future that the version of you that still feels small and unable to handle it quite literally cannot fathom, cannot even dream up until that obstacle comes into your life and asks you to grow, to become stronger, to be more creative, to step back into flow with your own nature, with the nature of the world around you.

So this I think is a beginning way that we can begin to shift our struggle into our greatest strength as for, you know, my father’s legacy. As I read his story, it’s not lost on me that he’s been gone for 13 years. He died at the age of 62. And his legacy is all seven of his children basically worshiped the ground he walked on. He became this absolute pillar of light for our family because he cultivated this ability to have a character that said yes to adversity and to really love the challenges of his life.

Imagine if you could learn to celebrate every challenge that comes your way instead of going, oh God, here we go again. You could say, oh my gosh, what a fantastic opportunity I have right now. And I’m so grateful for the, I know this sounds kind of crazy to say, but I’m almost, I’m grateful for the challenges that my ancestors have had to go through.

I’m grateful for the what felt in the moment to be a horror show? Actually, it has turned out to be the greatest blessings because we chose to say yes to them. And so I’m so, so, so very glad that my dad chose to not keep the jumpers and to see it as an opportunity to give to those that he loved and to make the world a better place, because it is helping me be strong in the work that I’m doing in the world and it’s helping me help others be strong.

And I think that’s the legacy. That’s the beauty of it, that it quite literally outlives your own life. It’s something that transcends this material world that we live in. It’s no longer just him or just me or just you or just any one person. It becomes, it’s almost as if we sort of join back in with, you know, an archetypal idea of what it is to be a person who raises their hand to become the hero, right? Become the hero of our own lives and a person who is willing to shoulder the burden of transforming hardship into something to celebrate.

And so I encourage you today to spend a little bit of time understanding and truly believing that you have got what it takes to overcome, whatever it is you are up against.

Do not believe the lie that you cannot do this. And trust me, it is a lie that you can’t. Anytime you feel that you can’t, that is a lie. You might have to go about moving forward in a new, different, creative way. You might not be able to continue doing it the way you’ve always done it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. You absolutely can.

So choose to see your adversity as a gift. Thanks so much for listening.