Struggle and the Gifts of Opportunity

Winter snow

Earlier this year this site was hacked and injected with hundreds of spam links. I found out a couple of months later and shared my thoughts and reactions here.

Months later, I’m looking at things from a different perspective. I’m revisiting not what happened, but what I did after to deal with the situation.

We usually think it’s not what happens to us that matters, it’s how we deal with it. We can’t choose our circumstances, but we can choose our responses (the ideal way of approaching life’s difficult situations). And that is profoundly empowering.

I admit, I’m not there yet. I react faster than the speed of awareness.

The fear is deeply programmed. And that was put to the test with the hacking job. When I found out, a wave of anxiety took over and I scrambled to determine what’d happened. Then the feelings escalated to anger—towards others (for doing what they did) and subsequently myself (for not being more proactive and taking adequate security measures).

Fast forward to today and it’s a different story. I feel calm, and I feel grateful. I’m no more or less Zen, I just realized something that was there all along.

Maybe the hacking (or any challenge) had benefits to me that are not just lessons, but opportunities to do what I wanted to do for years.

And that’s what I want to share with you today.

Top three reasons I’m thankful the site was hacked

Here are the main opportunities I took advantage of to grow from a seemingly irritating experience.

1. Challenges provide motivation to step out of the rut of indecision

I felt motivated (more like compelled) to do things differently. So I made some decisions, and then jumped into action to do what I’ve been meaning to do for years.

For the longest time I wanted a simple and elegant solution. And I looked at the options and imagined how cool it would be to get it done. But I was scared, so I remained undecided, and did nothing.

Hacking turned a wishy-washy thought into an imperative. I had two options:

  • Continue using WordPress, and hire someone to clean up the site and beef up security. Or
  • Move the site to a different platform—which is what I wanted to do all along.

The hackers forced my hand to take action and for that I’m grateful.

2. The compound effect of one change

Once I made a major decision, I felt more at ease to make other changes that I’ve been putting off.

I toyed with subscription features back and forth many times, but didn’t do anything. Now I made another decision. The new site will have its own RSS feed (meaning I won’t rely on Google’s FeedBurner that can be discontinued at any moment). With that came the decision to move the email subscription to a professional email service provider (which can be delivered even if the site is down).

I also felt more comfortable making changes to the current site and optimizing performance. I did this knowing that it would be temporary. It was an opportunity for me to learn and see what happens, without much fear. This brings me to the most important benefit.

3. Unwanted situations can be an opportunity to let go of fear and ego

I was mortified by the spammy links that showed up in search. What are people going to think of the site, and, by association, me? My ego got a good bruising.

As time went by, I started caring less, not because I didn’t want to deal to with the spam and the site’s ranking. It was more about letting go of the fear and anxiety that Google, and other search engines, will punish the site with unfavorable search ranking. If they did, so what? It’s not the end of the world. And so what if I looked bad? My life is not going to crumble over search results.

I will clean the links, but I’ll do it calmly, and with a genuine desire to learn. My motivation is going to be curiosity, not reactive fear.

I’ve been wanting to learn more about search engine ranking and all that stuff, but haven’t gotten around to it (meaning I wasn’t motivated enough to do it). So this is my opportunity. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s going to be a priority learning project. And for that I’m grateful.

An unwelcome hacking experience was an awakening. It showed me all the things I wasn’t taking care of, and it also uncovered some of the subconscious programming that needed attention—gifts that enabled me to make changes and move forward.

The blog hacking situation may not apply to you. But opportunities born of struggle are universal. I’ll sum them up here.

  • Every challenge is an opportunity to wake up and do things differently.
  • Any change we make has a ripple effect that will make it easier for us to make more changes.
  • Difficult situations can bring up limiting beliefs and fears that are beyond our conscious awareness. This can be a great chance to let go of unhelpful old programs.

Upcoming changes

The new site is up and running. Once I’m done with the remaining minor changes, it will go live. I’m really excited about it, and my greatest hope is that you’ll like it too.

The new site will be really simple without a database, or plugins. It will load super fast. The design is minimal and responsive. There is lots of white space and much improved readability on any device.

Thank you hackers for getting me to take action. Thank you to all the generous souls whose shared knowledge I learned from. And last, but definitely not least, thank you my dear readers and friends. I appreciate your presence, your supportive words, and your boundless kindness. I love you.