Have you ever walked a distance looking down at the ground, and then looked up, surprised at how far you had travelled? Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the details of our lives or the struggles one inevitably encounters along the path that we forget we are progressing.

Success, however, is not measured only in the distance travelled, but in how much we have learned along the way. Whenever my clients berate themselves for having made what they call a mistake, or because it is taking them a long time to learn a lesson that keeps coming at them, I smile. I smile because I know how much learning happens at times like these.

Even if we consider some life choice to be a mistake, we recognize there must be a degree of consciousness behind that awareness. It means we have a concept of a better way.

It is the challenges we face in life that deepen and expand our character. It is our own suffering that allows us to truly understand the pain of others, and to develop a compassionate heart. When we are down and dejected, feeling sorrow or sadness, we may feel we are stuck and are not progressing, when in reality, our connection to and understanding of others is growing.

The “great wind” of our own soul awareness is bearing us across the sky of human understanding. We should embrace this experience even when it is difficult, for it is profound.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychotherapist.