Silver linings

Looking for positives in negative situations


Throughout my life, I’ve had good times and bad times. Times when I’ve felt like I could conquer the world, and times where I’ve felt like it was conspiring against me.
Going through tough times is exactly what it sounds like, tough. But over the past few years I’ve learned that they’re often the times that lead to the most growth and opportunity.
Up to 70% of people experience positive growth as a result of difficult times, according to UW Health. I’ve experienced this firsthand.
For the past few years, I’ve struggled with disordered eating. This is obviously not something I would wish on anyone else, yet it has been one of the most valuable learning experiences of my life.
Through my struggles with food, I’ve built stronger relationships. After a while of trying to deal with my disordered thoughts by myself, I realized that I needed someone to support me, so I started sharing my thoughts with my mom.
This not only gave me the support I needed, but it has also helped me to feel more comfortable sharing some of my other struggles with her. I know that if it weren’t for my disordered eating, I wouldn’t be as close with my mom as I am today.
My food struggles have also given me tools that I can use to help others.
Among elite female athletes in “leanness sports,” 47% have experienced eating disorders, according to Global Sport Matters.
As a female distance runner, this means that many other athletes in my sport are dealing with similar problems.
In my recovery, listening to others who have overcome eating disorders is extremely useful as they have another layer of understanding as to what I’m going through.
I know that my current struggles will enable me to be a role model to others, help them recover and gain a healthy relationship with food.
They’ve also enabled me to learn that my value comes from things so much deeper than how I look and what I eat.
While I have been able to find many positive outcomes from my disordered eating, it would have been easy to point out the negatives.
The nights that I spent crying in my room, thinking about what I ate for dinner, telling myself that “I have to be better tomorrow.” I’ll never get those hours back.
And all of the events I haven’t gone to because I was so worried that I’d eat “too much” or “too unhealthy.” I’ll never be able to make up for those memories I missed out on.
But dwelling on the negatives doesn’t do anything. It only reinforces the idea that nothing was gained from the experience.
But, rather than focusing on the negatives, I choose to focus on the positives. I choose to focus on how much they’ve allowed me to grow and how much they’ll enable me to do in the future.
Everyone will go through hard times, and learning to find the positives in them is one of life’s most important skills.
So, when the storm clouds come, and they most certainly will come, remember to look for the silver lining.