Find the Gifts in the Challenges- by Vicky Westra

autism neurodiversity neuroshifts positive thinking wellbeing May 25, 2022

Dear Shifter,

In life, we all face challenges. It’s part of the human experience. Believing that challenges should not be happening in our lives can cause us to suffer, as denial doesn’t allow us to fully accept what is happening. That’s where we spent much of our time after we received the diagnosis of Autism for our daughter Gabbi at the age of 4.

At first, my husband Pier and I were in denial. “How could this be happening to us?? We’ve tried to do the right things to lead a good life!”, we lamented. After realizing that this was going to be a lifetime diagnosis for Gabbi, we moved into fear, what would it mean for our daughter or even for us and our future? Fortunately, we didn’t stay there too long, as it’s definitely not a good place to hang out! We started to move up the scale in terms of emotions, but still spent way too much time in what we now call “The Red Zone”, fluctuating between anger, worry and frustration. This was certainly not how we wanted to live life!

What was this diagnosis and the challenges we were experiencing leading us towards? Was this going to define the type of life we were going to have? Was there something we should be learning through this process? Well, I remember asking these questions of God, the Universe or whoever was listening to my cries.

Asking questions about our life can open the door to the answers we are seeking. As a person who was raised Catholic, one of the bible verses I remember learning as a child was “Ask and it is Given, Seek and you Shall Find, Knock and the door shall be opened unto you”. Well, I can tell you, I really wanted to know the purpose for this having happened to Gabbi and to us.

We’ve found that acceptance of the situation is an essential step that allows you to get into gear and start moving forward. That is exactly what happened with us. Once we accepted our situation, our focus shifted to finding the right treatment, therapists, resources and schools to help Gabbi continue to grow and learn. I also spent a lot of time finding and creating tools, techniques and processes that I could use to keep myself in a place of positive expectation.

It was shortly after this that I started to feel a real pull to leave my Corporate job and ultimately, everything lined up perfectly, allowing me to leave the role and even obtain a severance package. Upon leaving, I almost immediately started a Coffee Company and a Non-Profit for Autism.

Now, after many years of teaching what I’ve learned along the way, I realize that there were so many gifts that came from the challenges we were given.

Life’s biggest challenges oftentimes present your biggest growth opportunities. Gabbi being diagnosed with Autism went from being our biggest challenge, to our biggest gift. There are too many of those wonderful gifts to count, but overall, my husband and I believe we are more loving and compassionate people now than we ever would have been had we not gone through this experience.

Are you facing some challenges today? Maybe it’s a good time to stop and ask how these challenges are intended to serve you. Ask the deeper questions about the true meaning of these challenges. I fully trust that when you ask, you will receive the answer. Put yourself in an expectant mode for receiving, and the answers will surely come!

In Joy and Love,