It’s my birthday next week and at this time of the year I often take a glance back and look at my life journey to this point.

What I always notice is that every decision I have made and every experience I have had has led me to where I am now, including the challenges. And I have to say it’s the challenges that have helped me shift to the next level and experience what I have now.

The thing is, many people look at challenge as a bad thing, they hope to live a challenge free life, when the truth is that challenge is part of life and without it we wouldn’t grow and wouldn’t achieve greater things. It’s part of the whole package.

I’m sure you can imagine how much pressure is involved when a seed finally starts to sprout below the earth’s surface and has to push through the soil to reach light.

Success and achievement isn’t possible without challenge the same as light isn’t possible without dark.

It’s when we see challenge as a problem instead of a possibility that it becomes hard, and if we were to change that perception then we would flow through challenge with as much ease as we do with achievement.

Late last year I went through a couple of really big challenges, both in my business and in my family life. At the time it seemed really hard, I resisted and saw it as a problem. I felt all the usual emotions of fear, sadness and upset.

You see it doesn’t matter how aware we become, we are still human and feeling a whole range of emotions is a normal human reaction.

The key at this point is to challenge yourself to see it differently and look for the learning, because that’s when you start to gain traction, the resistance drops, the emotion dissipates and you can use the challenge as the gift it was intended.

I get this becomes difficult to do when you are in it and most people aren’t prepared to see it until it gets too painful. That’s why it’s great to work with a coach or a therapist, because they can help you see what you are not allowing yourself to see.

I am very blessed to have dear friends who are coaches, therapists, healers and social workers. They are true friends because we don’t just agree and commiserate with each other, we challenge each other and that’s what it takes to help you see the gift.

When you allow yourself to see the situation through a different lens, then you are able to see the gift.

Allow yourself to see what you don’t allow yourself to see – this is a quote of the late Milton Erikson one of the great hypnotherapists in history. Allow yourself to see challenge as a possibility instead of a problem, when you do this you will start to get out of your own way.

Look for the gift in the challenge – Start to become a possibility hunter and look for what else is now made possible by this challenge. When you do this you start to expand your awareness and often there are greater possibilities made available in the challenge than there were in your original intended pathway. There is a saying that “Every cloud has a silver lining” and it’s a saying because it’s true.

See your challenge from the outside – When you do this you are able to view your situation without the emotions that help you stay stuck. Imagine if you had a friend going through the same situation, what would you say to them. Would you commiserate or would you help them see a solution? What kind of questions would you ask them and how would you help them see it differently?

Talk to a true friend –When I say this I mean a friend who doesn’t judge and who will challenge your perceptions. If you have friends who just agree and commiserate, that’s the last thing you need, they won’t help you see possibilities and they will help you stay stuck. Its important to be there for our friends, but to only give a shoulder to offload on doesn’t truly serve. True friends are people who don’t just validate; they also challenge you to see it differently. They help you see possibilities and help you see the way through to your greater self, which is where anything becomes possible.

When you are prepared to challenge yourself to see your world differently, that’s when true magic happens, the illusion dissolves and your challenge becomes your greatest gift.