Dear Why Team member,
This week we consider the upside to downside. I hope this finds you well and excited for the remainder of the holidays - despite the disorienting environment in which we find ourselves.
Who doesn’t want things to go their way? Who doesn’t want the expected to happen more often, rather than the unexpected? Feeling disoriented is uncomfortable, sometimes extremely uncomfortable. I absolutely know the feeling and it can be pure hell, but as I discussed two weeks ago in “Why Me?”, once you come up a bit from the initial shock, there is great work to do. After you have had your time crying in the fetal position, which I have experienced- even crawling in pain - there comes a time to stand up. But let me be clear, I feel it’s so important to grieve a loss, feel the pain; even crying is honoring self and acknowledging loss. But in the midst of it all, the awareness that this too shall pass is very empowering- and we do well to acknowledge this early in the process.
When “down and out,” I highly recommend you write “down and out” your thoughts and feelings - it’s a positive action in the midst of negative feelings - it can provide healing and understanding.
There is a saying that when the student is ready, the teacher is provided. Do not our greatest challenges, suffering and pain make us more ready as students? For what life has to teach us?!
Our culture today is so quick to judge sadness and hardship as something bad and lacking any value. But how else are we to develop character and responsibility without the challenges that demand we grow up?
Of course, we prefer a straight road without potholes, but are we not more likely to fall asleep without the bumps and turns?! Who wants the story of their life to be boring- each chapter perfectly predictable? Please know that I am not minimizing the peace of mind that comes with the straight road. Many times it’s wonderful to just enjoy the ride and know what to expect from tomorrow, or next week but we all know that’s temporary and we will encounter pain, fear and anxiety- I have experienced the fire, let me tell you, that pain deep in the gut that makes you sick and removes your appetite entirely.
In Dante’s Inferno, he describes the lowest level of hell as betrayal.
Ever notice how much and how quickly someone loses weight after being betrayed?
The invitation here is to embrace the pain more than ignore it. It’s amazing how in the heat of it all you can vacillate emotionally: one moment grieving the loss and the next moment elated for the survival, the hope and rebirth into the possibilities found only in the unknown.
While most of us would certainly hesitate to invite terrible emotional pain and suffering, can we not develop an attitude that would make the suffering less when it occurs? How may we better live the attitude that it is all happening for us rather than to us?
Recently I relived a trauma from just five years ago that also tapped into my most significant childhood trauma of abandonment. In the heat of the moment I was a real mess but rolled with the fears and the tears. It took me a couple days to get back on my feet and start journaling, reflecting and reading. And just as we learn from the classic Hero’s Journey into the unknown - support came to me that I could not have imagined.
During this time of heightened consciousness, I feel more gratitude for each and every friend. As deeper understanding arises, a spirit of gratitude has begun to arise.
The pain of doors closing is shifting to excitement for the doors that are opening; new doors of growth and understanding. And it’s particularly amazing when you arrive at the place of gratitude for what actually went down. You sure don’t feel gratitude at the time it happened, but with diligence, perseverance, and eventual acceptance, we can come to a powerful place of gratitude.
In the ancient text we are invited to be thankful in all circumstances. While that is nearly impossible in the heat of the moment, can we not remember, even as we suffer, that we will not only survive, we will flat-out thrive on the other side.
Winston Churchill once said,
“If you are going through hell, keep going!”
If you are going through a very tough time right now, honor yourself by allowing yourself to grieve, to cry, but hang in there. You are experiencing growing pains. Embrace the journey, learn, journal, grow - and in time you’ll be all the more capable to give to others- because of your experience, not in spite of it.
This could be a defining moment in your life that is paving the way to more meaning in your life.
“What is to give light must endure burning. There was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.”
To be human is to suffer, it is just the way it is. It’s up to us to develop the attitude that turns the pain into gain.
Climb your mountains willingly, not reluctantly, and the going will go more amazingly for you.
Make it a great week!