In emotionally painful times I always try to embrace the wisdom, “Life doesn’t happen to you, Life happens for you.”
It can be a difficult idea to accept when experiencing emotional pain. And, look, I’m not saying that when something really bad happens a person should just smile and say, “Hey, what a great life lesson.” But, following the challenging events in life, we have choice in how we want to process what has happened and how to move forward. There can be a very seductive pull towards continuing to define oneself as a victim. It’s true that a person can be a victim of a crime or a circumstance. But, then what? How do we process pain and make it part of our Hero’s Journey? Because, truly, we are all Heros on a Hero’s Journey. This journey called Life takes great courage and strength and compassion.
There are 3 great strategies I have found really transformative from within the murky depths of emotional pain.
Whether it’s the pain of being in a job or relationship that is making you seriously unhappy or that nagging feeling that something in life is just not right, this kind of pain is like a giant sign pointing you in a new direction. Generally, you can’t ignore this pain for too long. It tends to slowly increase, like the pain of a pebble in your shoe. You can ignore it for awhile, but eventually your foot is going to bleed. This is where motivation is born. (and, no, you don’t have to wait until you are bleeding to be inspired to motivation.) You start to look for new ways of being. It may not be a sign to leave your job or relationship, it may be a sign to look for new ways of being there. It’s easy to create routine over time. In the beginning this routine may have served you and the relationship or the job or your life. But, energy shifts over time and it’s important to regularly check in and ask, “are these choices still serving the highest good here?” If not, it’s time for some fresh energy. Look for small changes you can make. It’s like looking out a different window and realizing that you’ve been looking at the back parking lot and just by turning around you can see a beautiful field of flowers and trees. The Blessing of this emotional pain gets you moving in a new direction.
Loving the “Unlovable”
There are times in life when all of us feel vulnerable or less than what we imagine we should be. This can be really painful. It’s not fun to have mental messages saying, “Why did I say that? Why didn’t I finish that project on time? or Why did I eat all of that ice cream?” It all adds up to an infinite number of ways to say, “I’m not good enough.” Which isn’t true, by the way. But, we all have these messages to varying degrees. And there is an opportunity here. Whether you want to imagine your inner child or just look in the mirror, it’s time to practice loving all parts of yourself. You don’t make sadness and grief go away by hating that they are there or telling yourself, “I should feel better by now.” You transform them by loving that part of yourself too. Embrace your broken Heart with gentle LOVE and compassion. You don’t change behaviors by berating yourself for them. You transform your choices moment by moment in accepting that even in so-called unhealthy choices, there is a part of you that is filling an emotional need. And most emotional needs boil down to a place underneath that is crying out to been seen, held and loved. Practice loving ALL of you. You can start with just one small thing that doesn’t seem lovable to you and practice sending that part of yourself love for a few minutes every day. Notice the thoughts that come up while you do this and love those too. Practice LOVE. And forget about practice making perfect. Just let your practice be LOVE.
Support & Something New
No matter what you are experiencing you are not alone. Find support. Reach out to the community, a therapist, a coach, a healer, a trusted friend. You may be wishing that you are not in your current situation or circumstance. But, it may lead you to some of your most heart-opening, belief-shattering, life-changing moments. And who would any of us be without those? Well, we’ll never know. Because we do have to go through these things. Change and loss may alter us forever. It’s in our hands to LOVE and embrace this new version of ourselves. And, we can use these experiences to forge new bonds, create social change and connect even more deeply with the Truth of we are. The Blessing here is well supported by the Japanese word Kintsukuroi.
Kintsukuroi (n.) (v. phr.) “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.
And remember, you are LOVE.