The 12 Invaluable Lessons Learned Enduring Hardship and Stress

Suffering teaches lessons we treasure when times get better.

learn more about Sherrie Campbell

By Sherrie Campbell

Shannon Fagan | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There is no way to quite describe how debilitating it feels carrying a crushing load of stress and uncertainty. When we're panicking it is nearly impossible to find workable or well considered solutions to our problems.

Feelings of stress are amongst the most frightening and powerful we experience along our path to success. Business is full of unfair situations, poor communication, deals gone bad, lies told, people underperforming, entitlement, loss of finances and other let downs. When we're in these stressful times we can feel out of control, hurt, harsh levels of self-doubt, extreme sadness, anxiety, and fear, coupled with feeling powerless to change our circumstances. Yet, without these types of stressors, unfair situations, and less than honest or stellar people on our paths we would never grow into the powerful people we are destined to become.

1. Don't repeat.

Never go back to what or who broke you. If people will do things once they will do it again. Follow the rule, betray me once shame on you, betray me twice shame on me. You cannot get water from a dry well. Learn when to cut ties and move on to something bigger, better and more worthy of your time and effort.

2. Time heals.

Stress and hardship, although not enjoyable, do pass and as time moves on, solutions come. It is only through a tremendous amount of patience that you are able to turn your terrors to triumphs. As time looms stagnant, make sure to focus on working hard and finding a level of acceptance for the situation you are in, and you will see that things begin to settle and work out; maybe not in the vision you had originally held, but many times things take directions which are even better for you.

3. Holes fill.

Whatever opportunities are lost or taken away, leaving gaping voids in your life, will initially be filled with your stress and heartbreak. However, by design, whatever falls empty will soon become full again. A wise person once told me that whatever I lose in life will be replaced by an opportunity that will be good or better than what I was in before.

4. Pain ends.

Stress and hardship are extremely painful. No one ever promised life would be fair, but if you can keep the faith, keep moving forward and working hard you will come to see that what was lost, or meant for your harm, will soon turn directly in your favor. When you're stressed, keep your eyes on the ball. If you make the choice to keep moving forward you will create the light at the end of the tunnel.

Related: 7 Habits of a Self-Made Millennial Millionaire

5. Courage.

Hardships and major stressors can be completely debilitating. The only way to get rid of these fears is to do the things you fear, face the things you'd rather avoid, and keep moving when you want to freeze. If you allow yourself to stay blocked you cannot grow, and your situation has no opportunity for change. Understand, courage is not something you have, it is something you do.

6. Things change.

All of us are creatures of habit and most prefer a certain amount familiarity and predictability to their lives. Trust that if something in your life/career changes or ends it is because it wasn't working properly. Change is stressful and can feel devastating, but things change so they can get better; allowing you an opportunity to move in a new and better direction. Throughout your life and career there will be situations that won't get better, but you can get better. Keep in mind that endings are inseparable from new beginnings.

7. Let go.

Letting go is an essential ingredient to moving through any type of stress or hardship. Clutching and hanging on only make you feel more desperate, powerless and needy. Letting go is the greatest risk you take, but it is only through letting go that the space for change and healing is created. Clutching and hanging on block opportunities, creativity, new solutions, and the exact answers you may be looking for. Letting go is the most courageous act of opening up.

8. You will survive.

Stress and hardship teach you that you are capable of surviving what was meant for your destruction. You can absolutely survive these time periods in life because there is no other choice. When you have no other choice but to move on, you will, and you will come out stronger and more successful. Nothing teaches you more about getting through your self-doubts then forcing yourself to get through them.

Related: Here's How Much a Millennial Needs to Save Each Month to Retire With $5 Million

9. You gain understanding.

You are never more malleable then when you are feeling defeated and in need of help, structure, or guidance. As you grow through these unpleasant times you come to understand, when a new opportunity walks into your life, why things didn't work out for you in the place or with the people you were with before.

10. You are being prepared.

The process of stress, hardship and heartbreak are preparatory. Stress is the training you need to grow up to the next level your life is about to demand of you. Life is consistently demanding your growth. Change is the most powerful way to get you examining, and growing. Without stress your life would be nearly meaningless. Stress makes you move and it makes your life worth living. It is the painful feelings to come from stress which awaken you to how alive you are and to how deeply you can feel.

11. Independence.

Nothing will get you to depend more fully on yourself than large doses of stress or fear. It is during these times you are forced to turn to yourself for the sole purpose of changing the trajectory and attitude of your life. You become the most connected to yourself in the times when life brings you harshly to your knees. It is here that you find a true sense of your independence and resiliency. It is in moving through your suffering you develop the capacities to more fully love people, to believe in yourself, your life and to more deeply understand how vast your capabilities for success reach.

Related: 7 Ways to Make Extra Income Even With a Full-Time Job

12. You will rise.

When you feel the drowning sensations which come from a stressful and terrible situation it feels like you will not make it through. That is how it feels, but it is not how it will be. Stress and hardship are what make you stronger, more mindful and elegant in your approach to love, life and business. It is in the journey of getting through these hard times you become more bold and brave in getting your needs met. It is through your challenges you learn to rise.

The feelings of stress, hardship, and uncertainty reach into the depths of what human suffering is. The hardest thing about these times is that even though you intellectually know they will pass, when you're in throws of them, they feel as if they are never going to shift or change in your favor. Uncertainty is a painful journey. It's a journey that you will take many times over your lifetime, in many different areas of your life and for many different reasons. You may as well buckle up and accept that the journey through your stress and heartbreak serve as the character building devices you need in an effort to take full accountability for yourself, your life, your trajectory and the management of your emotions. Without suffering you cannot develop the necessary wisdom for your continued success.

Sherrie Campbell

Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person. Her new book, Success Equations: A Path to an Emotionally Wealthy Life, is available for pre-order.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

The Dark Side of Pay Transparency — And What to Do If You Find Out You're Being Underpaid
Thinking of a Career Change? Here Are 4 Steps You Can Take to Get There.
A Founder Who Bootstrapped Her Jewelry Business With Just $1,000 Now Sees 7-Figure Revenue Because She Knew Something About Her Customers Nobody Else Did
Everything You Need to Know About Franchise Law
Business News

Report: Amazon, Jeff Bezos Eyeing Purchase of AMC Theaters

AMC operates 600 theaters across North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Growing a Business

Scaling Made Easy: How to Scale Your Business like a Fortune 500 Company

Once you have the night-vision skills of Fortune 500 restaurants, scaling becomes effortless. Here are 3 ways to scale, hidden in plain sight.


Streaming TV Is the Future of Advertising — Without Breaking the Bank

Today's consumers expect personal, impactful ads. There's an advertising method that can get you there for half the price, making it the next frontier in digital advertising.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas To Start Right Now

To start one of these home-based businesses, you don't need a lot of funding -- just energy, passion and the drive to succeed.