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If there is one thing we know about the human experience, it’s that suffering is inevitable.
We may be deeply disappointed by a loved one’s actions, we may lose someone close to our heart, we may go through things we never thought we would have to endure.
Few of us, if any at all, make it through a lifetime without a deep internal upset of some kind. Painful life experiences are one thing we can count on. And it’s all pretty f*cking horrible, to put it bluntly.
Why is the universe so harsh? One can never know—and that’s yet another rude awakening. How can we ever truly know what mother nature has planned for us?
For much of my life, the distressing moments have been too much to bear. Instead of facing them head on, I tuned out, I distracted myself. I found anything to prevent me from facing the problems manifesting in my life, and I went into victim mode. I let life shove me around like a rag doll. It felt as though I was caught in the turbulence of a 20-foot wave, and I was left wounded and broken, and not wanting to rise to the surface.
I know many of you can relate.
But I have to ask—what good does this do? To walk the earth feeling sorry for ourselves, filled with anger and resentment at why things went the way they did, helpless and alone?
Unfortunately, there’s only one way through if we want our lives to change for the better and to experience the richness that life has to offer us. We have to sit with the pain.
I spent much of my time either trying to run from my pain, or to analyse and understand every aspect of my experiences and their causes. I got caught up in a cascade of recycled thoughts, allowing my sadness and memories to repeat over and over and hold me prisoner in my own mind. I was never truly free to feel the beauty and wonders of life.
We must give our pain the time to feel acknowledged, to be fully processed, rather than dismissing it and distracting ourselves—and we do this by getting out of our head and into our body, which may be a challenging transition to make when you feel more in control staying in your head.
And we must not be mistaken, it’s not about getting to the gym, doing yoga, or going out for a run, which is simply moving the nervous energy around in attempt to burn it away. While this can help, we still need to create the space to feel every part of our body, to feel where the pain resides and to shift it mindfully.
In the midst of turmoil and unwanted upset, welcome in moments to be with the feelings.
Perhaps this means lying down and placing one hand on your heart space and one hand on your lower belly. Not judging, simply welcoming the feelings that arise—which is not at all easy, for it is pain after all, but it is most definitely essential.
Heartbreak is the deepest of all human emotions. Often it feels as though our heart is being ripped from our chest. But we must avoid burying it further down into the body. We must let it roam wild, let it be heard and felt, allow our body to process the emotions. This may mean we cry, our body may tremble, we may find it hard to eat, our head may hurt, and we may not sleep—but over time the feelings settle, because we allowed them to flow through us rather than blocking them.
Much of the time, we have no control over the experiences that life gives us, but we do have the ability to shift how we relate to life’s complex challenges.
We can either stay a victim of life’s plan and maintain a heaviness and resentment in our heart, or we can deeply feel the richness of such experiences and acknowledge how we can learn and grow from our struggles. Perhaps this experience came to you to teach you compassion, empathy, forgiveness, how to listen, or how to love deeply. Ultimately, our understanding of life and the story we give it is ours—we can decide what it all means and we can look for the blessings in disguise.
When we truly process our pain with surrender and an open heart, we allow life’s plan to unfold, which unfortunately rarely takes place the way we want it to, but instead takes place in the way we need it to.
Sometimes our deepest pain wakes us up from the depths of that turbulent wave—wisdom from the light above guides us to the surface and allows us to breathe again.
We see clearly that our struggles do not define us, but instead allow us to become stronger and more compassionate beings. The memories may never leave us, but our associated feelings will begin to dissolve over time, with patience and practice. We come to accept the undeniable truth—that life is bloody painful! But in those moments of intense suffering, we wake up from simply existing in our day-to-day lives, and we start feeling.
We form deeper connections with ourselves, our god, and those around us, and we develop a rich understanding of the resilience and beauty of the human spirit.