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Your Biggest Challenges Can Become Your Greatest Gift


Find out how the most challenging times in your life can go on to become the greatest gift you’ve ever received.

It is almost one year since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the age of 29, I wasn’t expecting it to happen to me, does anyone?

While initially it came as a shock, I was already armed with the understanding that we ourselves are capable of creating our reality based on what we think and the choices we make, so I refused to be crippled by the fear that is associated with cancer.

I knew that I could get better and heal myself, and I vowed to not only survive it, but to thrive in it.

My latest scans have shown that cancer is no longer present in my body, hallelujah!

Switching to a vegan diet, juicing and giving my body everything it was seemingly lacking, has definitely helped. But the most crucial part of getting better has been the work I have done on my inner self.

It’s been an inside job through and through, and such a journey that it’s hard to put into words. I guess the only way to describe it is that cancer made me better.

I want to share what I’ve learnt with anyone who is going through ‘big stuff’. It doesn’t have to be health issues; it might be loss, heartbreak or any other changes that shake your world.

I believe we can learn a great deal from these events, here’s what I have learnt.

DON’T Let Other People’s Fears Get In Your Head

The choices I made for my healing – i.e. not going down the conventional medicine route, were met with resistance. I had many a meeting with medical professionals who suggested I was making a very bad decision or even that I was crazy. And not all of my family agreed with what I was doing…

While, looking back, I can see that they were coming from a place of care, they were doing so due to their own fears.

Nobody ever achieved anything extraordinary being confined to the limitations of other people. I knew that in order to do this my way, I had to ignore the fears of everyone else. I had to go against the grain.

My refusal to not let anyone influence my decisions or decide my fate, is one of the most rewarding lessons I’ve gained out of this.

I’ve learnt to rely on my own judgement – my gut, and that is invaluable. If something doesn’t feel right to me, it’s because it isn’t. If something feels good, it’s usually because it is.

I have developed a relationship with myself where I check in with me before looking to what other people think.

There will be Negative Nancy’s along the way. There will be doubters. The real test is moving beyond the fears of these people and listening to the inner voice.

 “Are You Going to Let Your Past Eat Away At You Forever?”

This is a question I had to ask myself because I knew that a big part of my healing meant I had to deal with wounds from my past.

I don’t think I’ve been dealt more shit than anyone else in life because the more I understand humans, the more I realise that E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y has had it hard, but what I had been through, still played a significant role within me; it was still there beneath the surface pouring poison through me.

I learned that I could change the past by changing my meaning of the events that took place; I looked at the strength I had gained, the lessons I’d learnt, the positive ways these events had shaped me into the person I am today. The anger turned into love and compassion, and the hurt and rejection turned to acceptance.

As I began changing my meaning of the past, I began to forgive anyone that had caused me harm, including myself, and this is when I really started to heal.

All of that baggage I was carrying around, which rarely surfaced but could suddenly unload if I was prodded, got lighter and lighter.

I now feel free from my past and I’m doing everything in my power to ensure that the life I’m living today isn’t tainted by what’s been and gone.

Don’t we all owe that to ourselves? We only get this one shot at life and to live today bearing the brunt of yesterday, is only going to make us keep reliving trauma. Why would we do that to ourselves?

Happiness Is Right Now

In terms of where I was at in life, I had been diagnosed with cancer – the big “scary” C – and my daughter had just turned one and needed her mum to take care of her – things could have seemed pretty abysmal.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have moments where I struggled with what I was going through, but alongside those few difficult days, I experienced great happiness.

Some of the most fulfilling days of my life occurred right after I was diagnosed. I had never been so present before and in the moment. Everything looked different. I would look at a picture or a tree, for example, and be able to see it in a different light; I found myself lost in moments of appreciation and finding beauty in everything.

Being present was important for my healing; it stopped me looking too far ahead and allowed me to enjoy myself while going through what some might perceive as the most challenging time.

I believe that one of our greatest downfalls as humans is that we choose to live in our heads, and not in the moment. Being entrapped in the mind means thinking about the past and agonising, fantasising and mulling over the future, all while missing out on the magic that is taking place right now.

I was gifted with the realisation that happiness comes from not what we have, not where we have come from, or where we think we are going, but from enjoying where we are right now in this very second.

No matter what difficulty you are experiencing, you can come out braver, stronger, with more determination and resilience, if you choose to seek the lessons.
Stephanie Dunleavy
Co-founder of Soul Analyse

Stephanie is a professional writer, blogger and the co-founder of Soul Analyse.

While she always tries to live in the moment, she feels it's equally important to look back at past experiences with open eyes to connect the missing dots and work out what we can learn for the future. She uses writing as a way to share her story with others in the hope that her past experiences can help someone else moving forward. She's also keen to gain knowledge from others' experiences and believes we can learn a great deal from one another!

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