Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

Not all difficulties are negative

Not all difficulties are negative even if they seem so on the surface. When we are faced with difficulties, compensatory learning takes place. This is learning that involves skills to help us cope with adversity. Skills that we would not learn if we hadn’t been faced with the difficulty.

When I write that not all difficulties are negative, I have to pay respect to those who face difficulties and don’t manage to overcome them. Some of us have terrible childhoods and they get the better of us. Some of us end up using drugs or getting into trouble. What this blog post focuses on is the hope that some of us, despite trauma and difficulty, somehow manage to adapt and get head in spite of these issues. Difficulties force us to learn skills that otherwise might have lain dormant.

For example – some children who have had difficult childhoods learn to read people far better than the average child. Their very survival depends upon being able to read/tune into their parent’s moods and act accordingly. This is what is known as compensatory learning. They often deal with adversity later in life far easier than someone who hasn’t had much difficulty to deal with. They are often more resilient.

Think of dyslexia. Seems all bad? Not necessarily. People with dyslexia have to learn compensatory behaviours to deal with their deficit in spelling, reading and writing. They often excel in business due to these extra skills. They tend to have good memories and good visual skills. They are also  used to dealing with failure as they are often sidelined in school and made to feel stupid. They are not stupid, they just learn in a different way and don’t fit the “one size fits all” education system that abounds.

Post-traumatic growth suggests that trauma can teach us valuable skills. Sometimes, a difficulty strengthens us and gives us useful skills for life.

Mandy X


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