Picture of a beach shore with an open treasure chest filled with sparkly coins with a heart superimposed overtop. The words Finding the Benefit are written in bold on the image

Finding the Benefit in Challenging Situations

A Powerful Heart-Centered Life Practice

Finding the benefit when reflecting upon pleasant times is easy. However, a key trick to increasing our enjoyment of life lies in our ability to find the benefit in unpleasant experiences. In this article, I’m going to be sharing some strategies to accomplish this.

It only makes sense that the quicker we are at finding the benefit in emotionally challenging situations, the happier and more engaged in life we will be. And the positive outcomes of consistently finding the benefit in challenging circumstances are highly significant. Have you ever noticed? –– it’s much easier and a lot more fun to be around people who are happy and engaged in life in meaningful ways: people who don’t major in minors, and keep a level head, even in very challenging situations. 


Key to achieving greater peace and enjoyment in our lives requires coming to fully comprehend that how we feel is not controlled by anything that is outside of ourselves, but rather, on how we are perceiving and responding  to what we are experiencing.

This is vital to understand, and often very challenging to believe -- for we are not conditioned to think in this way. Rather, we are conditioned to think that if things go our way we should feel good, and if things don’t, we should feel bad. But this mindset is an ego-deception which keeps us from being open to finding the benefit in any situation. To overcome this deception, we must develop the ability to access our heart's wisdom and empowerment when we recognize our perceptions are askew. For only when we stay connected to our heart are we able to consistently override ego-deceptions. The better we get at this, the more natural it is for us to default to looking for, and then finding the benefit that is inherent in any situation. Every time we look for the benefit -- we will find the benefit.

Following the Guidance of Our Heart 

The more passionate we are about following the guidance of our heart and accessing its empowerment to change, the more consistently we will do so. This consistency is how we recondition ourselves to the truth that all experiences are meant for our good. More than anything else, the belief that all experiences are meant for our good, is what is needed to be able to consistently, and quickly, find the benefit in any situation. If you don't believe an experience was meant for your good, why would you look for the benefit?

Heart Empowered Living Tip!

Those who most consistently live with an attitude of appreciation and gratefulness find the most positive, life-changing benefits in their experiences.

Reconditioning our perspectives is vital to attaining a more enjoyable life, for our perceptions and beliefs powerfully affect how we think, feel, and act on a daily basis. Our perceptions and beliefs are formed through a combination of our experiences, and how we interpret those experiences.  As we know, many of our experiences involve a lot of negative societal conditioning. Recognizing this is so important, for our perceptions and beliefs literally cause us to think as we think, feel how we feel, and consequently act as we do. If our perceptions are skewed, our beliefs will be as well, causing our thoughts and actions to lead to discordant results -- which we will definitely feel.

These feelings of discord reveal that our perceptions and beliefs are out of alignment with our heart. Our heart desires to reveal to us what is actually true. Thus, by paying attention to the results we get -- and the feelings those results create -- we can access our heart wisdom and use our feelings to guide our thoughts in wiser ways. 

Finding the Benefit in Negative Feelings

As we pay closer attention to our experiences, and to the results and feelings our experiences manifest, we learn more quickly how to think, live, and relate in ways that truly lead to mutual needs fulfillment (in our relationships), as well as to personal growth (in our individual lives).

Part of this personal growth involves increasing our sensitivity to how our behavior affects both our own, and others’ needs fulfillment. As we grow in this awareness, it motivates us to find the benefit in our exchanges with others, even when we don't like what has happened in a particular situation. 
To reflect upon situations in ways that cause us to become aware of beneficial insights requires an open heart and mind. We need to make room for new information, and this requires heart-centered thought-temperance. Heart-centered thought temperance is about increasing our sensitivity to the quality of our thoughts. It’s about recognizing when our ego's mind-language is attempting to dominate our thoughts through fear, regret or worry. By recognizing this early on, we can effectively counter these negative thoughts with heart-directed thoughts that are hopeful, positive, and relevant to the situation, especially as this relates to the needs the situation reveals.  

This is the reason why it is so important to recognize the unmet basic needs that are behind our negative feelings. For this recognition is key to learning how to process negative feelings in heart-empowering ways that facilitate finding the benefit those negative feelings are attempting to bring to our awareness.

Although often hard to accept, the truth is, that unless we are dealing with a mental disorder, circumstantial difficulties cannot cause bouts of fear, worry, anxiety, anger, or any other prolonged negative feeling. Only believing the negative perspective our ego-self conjures can create these kinds of feelings. Therefore no circumstance, regardless of how disturbing it appears to be, has the power to control how we think or how we feel.

Our Heart's Authority

Our heart has the authority to both allow  negative feelings (to get our attention about something important), and then to empower us to keep those negative feelings from lingering  longer than is necessary. In other words, once we have the message our heart meant for us to receive through our negative feeling, the negative feeling no longer has any value for us. To go through this negative feeling to resolution process effectively, requires allowing our heart to reveal to us the following:

  1.  The unmet need triggering our negative feeling;
  2.  How we are thinking about that unmet need (getting our perspective right); and
  3.  What we need to do to move in the direction of getting that need met.

Therefore, handling negative feelings effectively requires quick awareness of them, understanding the reason for them (the unmet need), and a positive thought and/or action response that achieves (or moves us in the direction of achieving) getting that need met.

Neuroscience Reveals the Power of Positivity

Neuroscience discoveries reveal that our brain interprets what we focus on as that which is important to us, and our brain responds to what we focus on by building new neuron connections. Therefore, we now know that by focusing on positive thought and imagination practices, our brain builds new positive pathway connections in response to that focus. Thus, the more we practise effective thought and imagination techniques, the more capable we are of handling negative feelings effectively, and the happier and more productive we become.

As we learn, dendrite branches grow and connect to other brain neurons

When we respond to negative feelings quickly and in positive ways, we become more open to hearing our heart's message related to achieving needs fulfillment resolution, either within our self, or with another. For example, if we are feeling guilty about something, we need to pay attention to that feeling right away by making a heart inquiry as to the source of our guilty feeling. We need to ask ourselves if we were inconsiderate, or impatient with someone? Did we neglect to do something we said we would do? If so, then we need to be open to what our heart is guiding us to do to make this right? We need to ask, "What would be the best thing to do right now to bring resolution to this negative feeling?" (e.g., Make a note to do something? Apologize to someone? Take time to rest, meditate, or journal?) 

To recap: whenever you become aware of a negative feeling, your heart is attempting to:
  1. Get your attention through identifying your feeling  (i.e.: frustration, anger, hurt, loneliness, etc.);
  2.  Reveal to you the unmet need that is causing that negative feeling;
  3.  Have you reflect upon the best actions to take to move in the direction of meeting that need;
  4. Empower you to act in harmony with that decision.

When you process a negative feeling in these life-affirming ways, you will find the benefit the negative feeling is meant to bring into your awareness much sooner, and often right away.

Each challenge we encounter is meant to bring into our awareness something very valuable we need to learn -- which is the reason why we are going through whatever we are experiencing. Believing this, and then living in accordance with this truth, is the spiritual wisdom-path that leads to strengthening our ability to live a heart-empowered life, and therefore to living a fulfilling life.

Believing That Everything Is Meant For Our Good

However, to actually experience these outcomes in our life requires practising believing that everything we experience is meant for our good: both the things that feel positive, and the things that feel negative. For, both positive and negative experiences are required in order to for us learn how to attain deeper, more meaningful needs fulfillment. Only when we truly believe in the necessity of both kinds of experiences will we be able to consistently respond to negative feelings of unmet needs in positive ways, and thus attain a more enjoyable and fulfilling life.

Finding the benefit in all our experiences is one of the keys to living a heart-empowered life, so if you have experienced this yourself, or found this post helpful, please leave a comment. 

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      Bryan Bourdon

Bryan is the founder of Heart Centered Relating (HCR), author of the book The Art of Heart Empowered Living, and developer of HCR’s Personal Life Assessment Program. Bryan’s mission is to increase our awareness of how to live happier and more engaging lives through becoming aware of the wisdom and empowerment of our heart. Oh ya, he also likes tools, gadgets, fixing things, inventing, philosophy, psychology, and especially... helping people! 

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