THE BLOG

Why Rocky Times May Be Just What You Need

05/11/2015 02:37 pm ET | Updated May 08, 2016

"The Universe has shaken you to awaken you."

I'll never forget it. I had a devastating break-up, decided to quit my job, and put my house up for sale.

These things, all of which individually were massively difficult and heart-breaking choices happened in the course of one week. One week. In just seven days, everything I'd known, everything I had been day in and day out was irrevocably different.

I had no idea what was next, but at that moment, it was as if that didn't matter. I can remember thinking -- anything will be better than this, right here.

Though I didn't have a crystal ball, or even a rough sketch of what I wanted, somehow I knew through the tears, anger, hurt, worry and fear -- that eventually I would look back and be grateful for this time. In fact, I would often say that to others, but it was still terrifying having to live through it.

It is never easy to live in a purgatory of what once was while waiting for what will be.

Looking back now, several years later, I can say with ease and certainty that what seemed like the worst thing that could have happened, was actually the best thing in my life. And in that time, I've become keenly aware of something.

I'm not the only one who's made a change after going through something traumatic. I see it all the time with family, friends and acquaintances. Somehow things that are confusing become a lot clearer when you're down at your lowest, on your knees praying, or crying in a heap on a floor.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but it's typically true. People often find their calling, or much needed answers, during or after a challenging or tragic time. Suddenly, in the midst of mayhem, we are forced into a corner. It's there that we trust ourselves more to decipher what's important, what needs to go, and what needs to shift. We believe there is no more time to waste.

But when we think of making changes we usually think it's the opposite. We believe that we will make changes rationally, after lots of thought has taken place, and all the stars have aligned in our favor. We think it will feel like everyone is supporting our choices, all thumbs-up, holding signs cheering us on along the way.

While this would be ideal, it's rarely the case. When our lives are at peace, the waters tranquil, it's hard to steer in a direction, and shift course. It feels risky. We worry we'll capsize in the waves and we'll regret it. Instead we coast, adrift on a slowly sinking ship, not even aware that soon we'll be drowning, willing to do anything to rescue ourselves, to save our sanity, to preserve our peace, and to reclaim our joy.

No matter how much we yearn for something more or imagine the dreams we'd like to follow, when life is pretty stable, we most likely won't take a leap of faith, quit a job, move cross country or whatever it may be because we're scared of all the things that can go wrong.

So, we wait.

We so often sit and hope for an epiphany or a moment of divine clarity. We pray for a sign or for a clear message that now is the time to make a change and we wait for the step-by-step-how-to-guide and the reassurance it will all work out. We believe clarity will come to us in moments of calm, when we are happy, like a sun beam being shot at us in the middle of a serene afternoon.

And when it doesn't come, we choose to wait longer.

The reason for this is simple. Sometimes when we are struggling a little (i.e. not at a breaking point yet, but mildly uncomfortable or unhappy) it's easier to push those feelings aside rather than facing them. We convince ourselves that if we are just more patient, the answer we need will flash in our minds and we will be certain of what action to take. We start to believe that a definitive answer is on the brink of arriving and all we need to do is hang on a little longer.

Sometimes an epiphany can happen, which is wonderful, but more often than not, it takes a lot more to shake your soul, for your fault line to rumble. Change usually isn't born from divine clarity or absolute assurance. Change is usually what happens when chaos erupts.

When everything is going wrong, when you are at one of your deepest valleys, and when you feel like you have nothing left to lose? Well, that's when making a drastic change to pursue your soul's desire won't feel so scary.

In fact, it will feel like about damn time.

That's what happened with me. The truth is I had been unhappy with a few things in my life for longer than I'd like to admit. The truth is in moments of quiet, I would look out my window and ask the Universe to show me an answer or point me in a new direction. Those conversations happened countless times, but when no clear answer presented itself, I waited some more.

It wasn't until I hit my lowest, that I was finally ready to do something about it. I'm sure the people around me worried or thought I wasn't thinking rationally once I started making these life-altering decisions, but I knew for the first time in a long while things felt right with my soul.

I couldn't see what was next, but I had faith that somehow this was part of a bigger plan coming together. I finally trusted myself enough to know that if I wanted to see a change, it was time for me to take control and make one.

So that's just what I did.

I think it's important to know in times of utter despair, when we feel like the whole world is conspiring against us, and we are being dealt one crappy hand after another, that the Universe may in fact be shaking us awake from a mindless slumber.

It's terrifying when things don't go as planned or tragedy strikes. But try and remind yourself that the worst times in your life can be a catalyst for the change you've been asking for. You may not be immediately able to recognize it through the fog -- the concoction of confusion, heartbreak, loss, fear, endless worry, anxiety, and uncertainty -- but somewhere beyond that mist, the Universe is actually opening a door, extending an opportunity or clearing the way for new and exciting paths.

The Universe is giving you permission to take a step.

It's in that moment -- or sometime after the dreary dust has settled -- that you'll find yourself more ready than you've ever been to leap, to jump, to discover what's next. You won't look back. And while you may not have clarity in the form of a road map with detailed directions and you may not know the exact answers or solutions, you'll find a type of peace in the unknown.

In fact, taking a step towards a new and unfamiliar direction will light the fire in your soul even more. Because the unknown means anything, at any time, is possible.

Try to remember this the next time life knocks you down. While it may look like the Universe is throwing you worthless mud piles, realize they may actually be the foundation for the new road you're about to pave ahead of you.