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Discussion Starter #1
Been curious as to the meaning people attribute to the challenges that life has thrown at them and they've had no option but to sink or swim.
A lot of members on this forum seem to have been through some heavy shit in their lives and i'm interested in what importance you place on the experiences you've had to deal with.


How do you believe it's shaped you?

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?

Did you struggle accepting what happened?

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?
 

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How do you believe it's shaped you?
For the better. I feel stronger, happier and more fulfilled today because of the changes it forced me to make.

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?
Definitely not. It hurt like hell, but it also stopped me from wasting time on unimportant things and sweating the small stuff.

Did you struggle accepting what happened?
No.

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?
Hard to tell. I sometimes find myself switching off when people incessantly moan about small shit and can't see all the good that's happening to them. I try to force myself to remember that any problem, no matter how small, is real for the person at that very moment, and that emotions are what they are.
I admit though that I find perpetual whining exhausting to listen to.

Generally speaking, I often wonder about people's resilience, how we react to things, and what makes us what/who we are.
Some people have to go through an awful lot, but they seem to grow through it and never give up - their outlook stays positive.
Some people go through exactly the same and get bitter.
Others are bitter without really having experienced anything bad at all, and can only see negatives despite being comparably well off and sheltered.

Why is that? How can these differences be explained?
 

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What importance you place on the experiences you've had to deal with
Immense importance. Although good times maintain you, bad times challenge you. I think your questions here are focusing on the bad times, if I read you right. I think that a healthy balance of cruise vs challenge, what has been called FLOW, is critical to a life well lived.

Sadly, the status quo in any situation does not lend itself to all participants evenly. This means that by definition not everyone can be in FLOW simultaneously. With this recognition comes a staggering awareness. Those in FLOW must and will carry those not in FLOW. In theory those in FLOW will change. My own assertion these days is that society currently chooses to punish those not in FLOW entirely too much and in too many ways. In essence, if you are not in FLOW it is less likely you will get there. The boot is on your neck. It can be clearly understood by all our personality geniuses here on PerC that only a certain subset of people respond to this exponential difficulty in a way that at least SEEMS to be what is called success. That success, I argue is. in most cases by the current sum of humanity, achieved by stepping EVEN FURTHER on those not in FLOW.

Now to bring that back to a personal response to answer the O.P. - My own life was in FLOW and I had no real troubles until I reached about age 40. It was the first time I started to consistently fall out of FLOW. And I discovered that unlike the normal path in life directed from childhood on up, if you leave you FLOW convincingly, repeatedly, there are precious few routes back to it supported IN ANY WAY by society. It's all very difficult non-systemic re-entry on your own dime, your own sweat, and with most folks jeering at you hoping you'll stay below their level of FLOW for the purpose of schadenfreude (double that for those you previously soared above by the whims of fate and your own efforts combined).

I do not know if I am unusual, but, I have the sneaking suspicion that most people encounter this harsh truth at around age 15-20. The situation is a little more elastic for them, but now I know their pain and I personally believe society is failing. Failing to allow for re-entry in enough ways and with anything near what I would refer to as grace. It's a kick-them-while-they-are-down world. We can do better.


How do you believe it's shaped you?
I was always something of an underdog advocate. Now I am a philosophical champion of belonging philosophy. I detest separationist thinking and the greed-competition paradigm, not because I cannot compete, but because competition should be optional. I have become a solidly wise person in own estimation, growing with the wisdom I glean from experiences and others at a far better rate of that kind of FLOW than I had before. In other words, my stuck life of mainstream success brought on a very lucrative life of wisdom. Oddly, this makes it even more difficult to re-enter mainstream FLOW success.

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?
Hell no. Yes, I would have enjoyed mainstream FLOW success and by most people's assessment I would have been better off. However, I would have been in bad faith with my own spirit and that is a road to a personal hell. I am happy to have to deal with this stuckness.

Did you struggle accepting what happened?
I struggle with it in every action I take on a moment to moment basis. It's such a feeling of being alive. Yet the lack of mainstream FLOW throws obstacle after obstacle in front of me and that is indeed wearying. If I get to old, I may simply lose the fight due to exhaustion of body and then of spirit.

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?
A huge gap. Most people by definition (mainstream) cannot handle the level of decreased mainstream FLOW I deal with every day. They would bolt in fear, do anything, dark deeds and whatnot, to return to the typical FLOW. I can't so far. It worries me because one of my bugaboos is separation and this is separating me. My remaining challenge is to rejoin the mainstream FLOW in a way that I can morally accept.
 
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I think it's a twin-edged sword. On one hand, by going through adversity you learn to discount other people and trust yourself. On the other hand, there seems to be a kind of unabashed confidence that is required on some level.
 
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I think mine did more harm than good. There are events in my life that did make me stronger, but there were also a lot that were too overwhelming and broke me. I'm still not over something that happened a decade ago because it was just that hard on me. A few years ago, there was a whole slew of bad events that all happened to occur in the same short span of time so it piled on a lot of negative emotions and I couldn't carry all of that burden on my own. I don't think it made me stronger, but instead made me a lot more pessimistic and cynical about life, to the point that it harms me and my decision making abilities. The biggest gap between me and those who haven't gone through such experiences is I see these other people as naive and stupidly optimistic about the future. I keep predicting that they will have all their dreams shattered by reality within the next 5 years and then they will be as broken as I am because I can't imagine seeing the world in as positive of a light as they do.

I probably could have been fine if it were maybe 2 or 3 of mentioned events that happened, but for several years it became one thing after another and it wore me down to the point of me breaking. This stuff becomes too much after a point. It's been taking me a really long time to "recover"...
 
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How do you believe it's shaped you?

It made me much more aware of my own limits (in a good way). It also made me kinder, more considerate of others, and a LOT less prideful.

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?

Some things I would have done differently (the small stuff), but the large majority of my more negative experiences, no. The thing is, with my personality, these pitfalls would have happened eventually. I was just lucky enough that they happened earlier rather than later in my life. I got to screw up at points in life where recovery was much, much easier than it would have been for me today.

Did you struggle accepting what happened?

Yes. I went through two serious events. The first took about eight months to get through. The second is taking a little over a year.

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?

Inconsequential. Most people don't have my personality and don't need to learn the lessons I had to learn.
 
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I've had a few traumas. I don't even know if they have shaped me at all but made me realise quite a bit about myself.

a) I like my own company.
b) I can get through just about anything because I adapt well.
c) I don't do vengeance.
d) Some people are just hideous but understanding why they do what they do makes forgiveness more of a gift you give yourself.
e) I may appear easy going and laid back but I have a spine and I can look after myself.
f) I didn't just survive I came out more aware of my own strengths.

I think I would have been better off without some of it. I don't think things happen for a reason and I think karma does not exist. Bad stuff happens to good people as well. I don't even believe in luck. These things just happen.

I did struggle for a while in my teens after the first traumatic event. I had good friends around (friends I still have).

There isn't a gap between me and other people. Most people who don't know about these traumas are shocked at my sense of normalcy in some respects but then again I have a rare personality type so that is more likely to be the gap in cognitive processing that's more readily noticed.
 

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How do you believe it's shaped you?
It has made me stronger in terms of my character. It's given me more confidence in myself and a sheer will of determination. I've gained a lot of wisdom from those adversities.

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?
I don't know....Maybe.

Did you struggle accepting what happened?
Yes. For a very long time.

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?
There is definitely a gap between myself and those who hadn't been exposed to extreme circumstances. I feel I can only relate and connect with those who experienced similar traumas or trials in their lives.
 
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How do you believe it's shaped you?

Quite a lot.


Do you believe you would've been better off without it?

Nope.


Did you struggle accepting what happened?
Of course, but in the end, I tried to learn from it.

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?
Everyone has vastly different experiences. It's important to keep this in mind and not be too harsh, or quick to judge.
 
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How do you believe it's shaped you?


It's shaped me in many ways, not just in how I view the world, but in how I view myself. Some advesity has made me very kind and empathetic towards those who suffer, while at the very same time making me very guarded and defensive to make sure I'm never hurt again. This also can manifest in aggression, anger, and the want to revenge and justice if I see it happening. In that way it's a very double edged sword because it can bring out dual sides of myself.

Another way it;s affected me, is it showed me that I'm vulnerable and capable of being wounded, and it brought my face to face with my mortality. When I was younger I think some part of me felt really invincible and I chased death, and took part in all sorts of things that could damage me physically, emotionally and psychologically. I think maybe this idea manifested in childhood too, but I'll get to that later. After being brought to the edge of death numerous times it made me realize the fragility and preciousness of life.

However, I think the thing I've learned most is that I can take alot more than I give myself credit for sometimes. I always wondered why everyone thought I was so brave and fearless and unaffected by pain when I was a child, but I think most of it happened before I knew to be afraid or before I knew that not everyone goes through adversity in childhood. This gave me a false confidence, and it wasn't until I had seen and done things that really terrified me and really wounded me that I started to believe in myself and my resilience.

Now, I can lose sight of all of that when I'm really deep in a severe depression. But even then, facing the depths of despair and hopelessness gave me strength because I knew that even if I thought about throwing in the towel, and really entertained that idea, I still chose to keep going and fight through it. I think every depression toughens me up for the next one because I know I've seen how bad it gets and I know I've pulled myself out of it. And I did it without drugs and mostly in silence. I've always felt alone, and real adversity is something you have to face alone. It's better that way. You realize you're on your own, and you have to tap into your own inner strength to get out of it. I think that's when you tap into that deeper greater part of yourself that would have laid dormant otherwise.

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?


I may have been happier for longer, but when real adversity hit I think I would have crumbled and been hit harder. I'd much rather take years of pain and suffering in the long run if it makes me a stronger fiercer individual.

Did you struggle accepting what happened?


I don't know. I never really liked the term acceptance too much. I'm not in denial about it, I think I'm just indifferent. I get angry about it still sometimes, but I realize it's made me a better person. I'm not sure if it's acceptance. I just move forward.

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?


Not a gap really, but I don't think I could ever relate to them on serious shit like depression unless they have been through it. I think it's less of a gap and more of a bond with people I know have faced adversity, and a real sense of respect, especially if they've faced more horrible things than I have.
 
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"had no option but to sink or swim" <-- Totally!

How do you believe it's shaped you?
I became aware of my deepest unknown fears and values so, it showed me what actually motivates me in life, for better or worse/

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?
I would have rather learned of myself in a less destructive and painful way. Considering it actually shattered my core and I lost my sense of self, yeah, definitely better ways to get to your true self.

Did you struggle accepting what happened?
Everyday

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?
Yep, cuzz I'm supper Jaded and keep myself "unknowable" ... That's actually why I'm here. To make myself stop doing all that.
 

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Let me start off by introducing a bit about my life. Basically, to put it bluntly, my mom is a raging narcissistic cunt and because for a while, I kind of caved to her more than my sister, my dad perceived it as me being the favorite and therefore favored my sister over me. So, basically, for the first 17 years of my life, I literally had nobody to turn to for anything and basically buried everything deep down inside of me in order to just try to gain my mom's approval. She put me through constant emotional and verbal abuse and, when I was younger and unable to hold her off, physical abuse. All I remember from my childhood and adolescence was being terrified of my mom and trying to do everything I could to avoid sending her into a rampage, which was basically impossible. I'd never actually seen love until I was in my first relationship as a senior in high school. Basically, seeing how someone who cares about you actually acts and also seeing her parents interact a lot, it truly hit me that something was very, very wrong with my family.

How do you believe it's shaped you?

It unquestionably has shaped everything about myself. Because of basically walking on eggshells my whole life, I became extremely perceptive of other peoples' emotions and feelings and am able to read people almost like a book. I also really don't let anything bother me and in the vast majority of situations, I remain calm no matter how stressful it is because allowing things such as this to get to me when I was younger only caused ridiculous amounts of pain. I'm also very, very comfortable just hanging out with myself. Not only were my parents not very good to talk to but they also did things to sabotage any friendships I did attempt to make and this taught me to be very self dependent but also a bit awkward, although I've made huge steps over the past couple years in that regard. Basically, I know that I am who I am, in large part, due to my past.

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?

Absolutely. I don't think anyone should have to deal with that type of shit. It caused so much pain and I still have issues stemming from it today and I don't really have any connection to my family as a result.

Did you struggle accepting what happened?

At first, very much. I tried so hard to explain to my parents how I felt. My dad was a bit receptive but it did nothing for my mom besides throw her into another fit. That was the moment I realized and told myself that she might as well be dead to me. If she didn't care and could turn around and blame it all on me without even stopping to question anything, why the hell should she continue to be in my life? She also tried to get me diagnosed with all sorts of disorders and had me sent to a therapist, who was skeptical about what I was saying until my mom would call her five times a day because I refused to sign the waiver allowing my therapist to talk to my mom about our sessions. When the therapist decided a group session with my family might be beneficial, my mom forbid me to go back.


Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?

Absolutely. People who had a normal childhood just don't understand, 1. how lucky they were and 2. how common shit like this is. I can pick people out who have dealt with stuff like this and a lot of times, they continue to not even realize or not know how to break free from it. There are positives I do have from these circumstances, though, and I think the biggest one was actually from trying to piece together who I actually was once I came to the realization that I hadn't lived a moment for myself - it was all to try and please my mom. I've become so much more self-aware and also confident in myself because of it and it's kind of scary to see support forum type of places for people with narcissistic parents and seeing 40, 50 year olds just coming to the realization that something is very wrong and realizing they wasted half their life...
 

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Q: How do you believe it's shaped you?
A: I don't think it made me a stronger person at all. If anything I see life as being more black and white now. Much less grey areas as I've come to conclusions on many things I would've said were ambiguous in the past.

Q: Do you believe you would've been better off without it?
A: It's probably a wash. I don't consider myself better off with or without having gone through adversity but it did change me as a person. Maybe made me a much firmer person but I don't consider that to be "better".

Q: Did you struggle accepting what happened?
A: No. I did think it was total bulls**t though. :mellow:

Q: Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?
A: Yes. I'm now less likely to respect a person who hasn't faced at least one major adverse event in their life by the time they're an adult. Reason being: The person is likely to be too sheltered or out of touch with reality. It's like membership to a strange fraternity (which includes both men and women). o.0
 
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How do you believe it's shaped you? In a lot of ways, it has humbled me. Coming face to face with the harsh, unforgiving reality of the world made me realize how truly small I am in the face of the universe. Not that I am unimportant or incompetent, but that terrible, traumatic things are going to happen no matter what I do or don't do and some of them will happen to me or someone close to me.

I don't know that I've ever sat down and consciously thought of it that way, but I think it's how I have understood things for a while now, deep down.

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?
I did what I could to learn and grow, and I think it catalyzed me into action, changing me in ways that may not have happened otherwise. Is there a part of me that wishes I could go back to that place of child-like innocence in how I see the world? Sure. But if I did, it would just get shattered by something else, in time.

Did you struggle accepting what happened? Not really. You'd think I would have, but I was never really in denial about it. Numb, but not in denial.

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential? Sometimes I notice a gap. Sometimes I am probably just imagining a gap. I think most people, especially the older you get in age group, have gone through at least one experience that was significantly traumatic. But occasionally, I will run into someone who seems blinded by the arrogance of a life with little adversity; it's understandable that such a person might attribute the "untouched" nature of his/her circumstances to his/her abilities.

Unfortunately, the arrogance inevitably gets shattered at some point, when the person faces something terrible and/or realizes how truly limited their abilities are.
 
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How do you believe it's shaped you?
For the better. I feel stronger, happier and more fulfilled today because of the changes it forced me to make.

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?
Definitely not. It hurt like hell, but it also stopped me from wasting time on unimportant things and sweating the small stuff.

Did you struggle accepting what happened?
No.

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?
Hard to tell. I sometimes find myself switching off when people incessantly moan about small shit and can't see all the good that's happening to them. I try to force myself to remember that any problem, no matter how small, is real for the person at that very moment, and that emotions are what they are.
I admit though that I find perpetual whining exhausting to listen to.

Generally speaking, I often wonder about people's resilience, how we react to things, and what makes us what/who we are.
Some people have to go through an awful lot, but they seem to grow through it and never give up - their outlook stays positive.
Some people go through exactly the same and get bitter.
Others are bitter without really having experienced anything bad at all, and can only see negatives despite being comparably well off and sheltered.

Why is that? How can these differences be explained?
If I were to write a response it would look something like this, but in my words. I've often wondered why some people get bitter with pain and others grow from it. I feel like those who are bitter about it try to ignore or reject the pain but those who remain optimistic, and like you said notice the smaller positive things, embrace the pain as a growing tool. It must be a different answer to the question, "is pain making me stronger or is it killing me?" Then I keep wondering if those who believe it kills them actually feel more hurt, but there's no way to compare. I'll always remain optimistic though and I do take a bit of pride in it. But honestly, I truly have no idea how others are feeling. That doesn't stop me from getting irritated at whining of small things though.
 

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How do you believe it's shaped you?
Without these challenges I would be shaped in a different manner. I am shaped through the lens that I work through in my own mind during the conflicts that I go through in my life. It permits me to work on myself as I potentially help someone else as well. The only way it shapes me is if I let it lead me. The only place I want to let my challenges lead me now is to a better me, instead of a different me. There's no need to change the person I'm developing into since I have my values in line. Only a difference in the way I live.


Do you believe you would've been better off without it?
No. Without my challenges on the levels they've come to me I would be somebody else. Yes I would not have this baggage, but in a different reality I may not be alive right now.

Did you struggle accepting what happened?
For eleven years. Thank goodness it's not a media reference.

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?
There's always a gap. Unless someone is by your side as it happens, chances are it will be overlooked by other people who do not understand the importance of whatever it is that happened. The justification is the way that individual experiences become fiction if they aren't justified by other people - whether they were there or not.
 
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When we have much it can be easy to overindulge and give in to our worst nature. When we must be restrained toward a universal purpose we transcend our circumstances
 

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This is a really interesting thread, kudos for the idea @Wellsy :)

How do you believe it's shaped you?

To the point where I can't really think of other ways to see the world. For better or worse, I'm not really sure; I suppose the main thing I'd describe it as giving me is perspective. A lot of things I've learnt by this age, harsh or unhealthy lessons or not, are things I'm grateful for knowing.
Greater self-awareness is probably the greatest thing I've developed. I am quite sure that I know myself and question every part of myself better than a lot of people, I know how to use that to my strength and to use the perspective and understanding I have to question everything from every angle I can in myself and others.
I've become very closely connected with my darker side and those parts which have or can be hurt. While I'm in a darker place I'm not afraid of it anymore, I'm proud of that balance I have and the peace I've come to with it; I'm not lost in a place like this in a way that I think is normal to feel. Dark topics in general do not faze me to consider. I'm not really afraid of anything, in a very fatalistic sense.

I've developed some resolve. I know what I will stand for and stand to fight for. I'm less likely to stand by and quietly hope it will fix itself, I'm more likely to take action generally. I'm more defensive of myself and others (perhaps too much though) and in spite of it a better judge and more level-headed person than I was, I have self-discipline in a moral sense which I did not have. Simultaneously my ability to understand, empathise and be diplomatic is greater than it was. Whatever I decide to do, I do it with resolve. My trust and willingness to wait or depend on others are limited which has forced me to develop some inner strength.
In both a very positive and negative sense, I am acutely aware of what my limitations are. I know exactly how much and what is wrong with me and I'm in no doubt I'd be happier ignorant. I know what my fears are as well, I live some of them. Again, self-awareness.

It's shaped me negatively as well, which is probably a more important point. Comes back to balance, and I don't think the good balances or justifies the bad. I think attempting to describe all the ways it's shaped me negatively would make for a long and unpleasant post so I won't try, but I think a lot of the positive points have emerged as defences against the negative so on balance I can't see them as good things, especially in the ways or reasons why they manifest themselves. I don't really know what to think, actually.

Do you believe you would've been better off without it?

Well, yeah.
I've learnt a lot of immensely important things which define my entire being, though; I don't want to have experienced it but I can't really conceive of myself without it. Losing a lot of those lessons is losing a lot of the parts of me which I hold greatest value in. But at the same time I know I should not be the way I am.
I would be happier. I may be better developed in a few senses, but worse off in others. I would not be as well-rounded a person as I am, but sometimes regret what it took to get here - I'd rather be very naive and happy.

Did you struggle accepting what happened?

No. It's happened and I completely understand that, there was never a point at which I understood it but yet could not accept it. I either did not fully comprehend it or I knew and accepted. To struggle to accept it is usually, I'd think, to believe that it should not have happened and to an extent, to be in denial or disbelief of it. My problem is very much the opposite, I struggle to accept that it should not have happened. My self-esteem mostly does not exist. The day I'm able to believe it should not have happened is probably the day I'll be able to really move on.

Is there a gap between you & those who haven't been exposed to extreme circumstances or is that inconsequential?

I question the ability of others to empathise with me if they claim to, but...I question the ability of others to understand anything as it relates to my perspective. That sounds like a very cynical/arrogant thing to say but ultimately I don't have any faith in others' perspectives of myself...in that sense I'm creating a gap between myself and others.
That's a very defensive side of myself coming out, though. Generally I don't think there's a gap, I don't expect others to have to 'prove' themselves for me by having shitty lives. I am hopeful, though, that people who have had their own challenges can better understand.
At the same time, I'm sceptical of other's opinions generally. I do not have faith that others are capable of understanding, I expect that most people are judgemental and ill-informed. Again, I'm hopeful that people who have gone through whatever they have are less likely to fill my negative expectations. You could sum this up as low expectations of people generally, though...I guess I'm not really sure how to answer.
 
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