Sad but true, we all grow out of the soil of pain....The crises that arise in our lives are here to serve us, not to hurt us. As counterintuitive as this sounds, crisis is nothing more than your own soul trying to get your attention, to show you your path. The soul uses pain, crisis, and trauma to wake us up.
Water is wet, fire is hot, the mango pit is too big, and your childhood was designed to introduce you to pain, death, abandonment, abuse, and heartbreak right at the start. Life doesn’t care how hard your lessons are, or if you can handle them. Life just wants you to learn and to grow, and to keep your heart wide open.
You are being stalked through this life to learn lessons and to pay attention to life’s teachings whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, whether you get it or not. What kind of karma are you carrying? Good karma, bad karma – too bad no one knows what that means.
Hard Truth: from birth onward you carry an invisible suitcase filled with story lines and dramas packed without your conscious remembrance. You take your first breath, then you’re slapped on the bottom, and you are front-stage center – a member of the human race. Rushing toward awakening or snoring right through it – it’s a choice. This is life. A breath, some karma, a body, and a big juicy story. Period. Full stop. You arrive and then here comes the wound.
Therapists make millions of dollars delving into your story’s details. They help you to discover why you’re suffering, and they listen attentively, looking for whom to blame, and how you came to believe your version of the tale. They help you to find solutions to make you feel better, then they happily suggest that you come back next week to deal with the next round.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to tell our stories and describe the wound – but with what intention?
The centerpiece of my psychological practice, and of other therapists who are worth their weight is: How can I help you to turn your well-worn stories into a gift and a lesson?
“The cure to pain is in the pain.”
Your Story’s Power
I’ve looked at the younger generation – I feel for them, this particular generation is suffering. College graduates are expected to go out into the world and be successful, loyal, reliable, kind, knowledgeable, respectful, on time, fit, beautiful, and rich. We expect you to get married, pay taxes, buy a house, go to church, never have a sexual thought about anyone but your partner, and raise perfect children. Good luck with that.
What they ought to say to us is: Be prepared. You will fail, you will break down at some point and become overweight, addicted, and aged. Your children are going to do drugs and hurt you; some tragedy might befall them. Your parents may never understand you or even want to understand you, and you will doubt yourself every step of the way.
These are the insights I have gathered from watching human nature right up close and personal for more than three decades. I have studied you, and I am going to speak to the obvious.
Identifying The Imprint Of Our Childhood
We all started off determined to love our mother, father, and siblings. We accepted our childhood upbringing as “normal.” It didn’t matter what the story line was – how crazy or straight it was – we all had to eat, sleep, go to school, look for love, and hope that someone cared. We were forced, by circumstance, to accept our parents’ reality – until we were able to leave their homes and begin our journeys as individuals. No matter where we went, we carried the imprint of our childhood.
No matter how many spiritual books you read, crystals you hold, or green protein powder you drink, you cannot be freed of your story without identifying your broken record and becoming conscious of how it limits or supports you. You are who you are – it’s not about changing your own nature, it is about rewriting the story, embracing your shadow with compassion, so that you can bless this life and live in gratitude, as a kind, loving being.
Pain As The Doorway To Wisdom
I can confidently tell you this: wherever your greatest pain lives – whatever story that follows you around like a boring friend that you just can’t get rid of – therein lies the rocket fuel to get you to your purpose and wisdom. Your pain and your purpose are one and the same.
Personally, I consider that thinking of pain as the doorway to wisdom is a horrible idea because we’re all going to resist it. No one willingly walks into hard lessons. Most of us deny, avoid, and drive as far away from pain as we can. But it doesn’t matter. Pain is our primary access point for learning the important lessons. Period.
Take a moment to reflect and it’s not hard to see. Every time you’ve experienced real pain you have entered a phase of growth. Did you learn the lesson and change your ways, or are you repeating your story over and over again?
A Story Designed Just For You
Don’t fear – your repetitive story has been perfectly designed just for you. Consider the example of the Dalai Lama. If you look at his life you will see how he was set up to learn (and then to teach us) about letting go.
He was recognized as the Dalai Lama at the age of three, and had to leave his parents’ home. This is what happens with Rinpoches – they are taken away from their families and trained as leaders. The Royal Highness began his lifelong practice of “letting go” as a toddler.
As an adult, he had to let go once more when the Chinese mandated that he and his monks were no longer welcome in Tibet. They were forced to leave their temple, never to return again.
“Most of our troubles are due
to our passionate desire for
and attachment to things....”
– THE DALAI LAMA
Learning The Lesson In Our Story
Each of us has a life built on a series of lessons. Should we learn the lessons, we become healers and teachers. If not, we remain victims and students, destined to repeat our need to learn the same lesson over and over.
One client of mine was ridiculed and beaten up in the third-grade for being effeminate. He is now a third grade teacher who watches for signs of bullying, and teaches his students the very thing that he learned first-hand – that kindness and compassion are as important as math and reading. Being different was the crisis that eventually enabled him to become a joy-filled, gay man, and an excellent teacher.
What we do with our story is the key to what happens next. Since you are reading these words it means you are looking for a formula to help yourself through the pain. It takes time and maturity. The Dalai Lama left his family at the age of three. Our friend the teacher was first set up for his bullying lesson in the third grade. How old were you when the imprint of your trauma occurred?
There is no question that most of us will skid across the well-worn path of “normalcy” and bump hard into the wall of tragedy, fall apart, and then get up again. The soul is always standing by trying to get your attention.
We will all lose patience and give up. That’s the “Ouch Factor,” the trauma, the drama, the stupid story, the wake-up call. Some of you are in Crisis right now involving finances, heartbreak, depression, a health scare, or relationship issues. Do you have the faith to keep going? Do you trust that there is a teaching inside your tale, that it is happening for a reason and that you are right on schedule?
“Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.”
— CARL JUNG, THE TRANSCENDENT FUNCTION
Crisis Comes To Visit
Think of a time in your life when Crisis came to visit. What was the story that hit you on the side of your head? Maybe you found out that your husband was having an affair. Maybe you were diagnosed with a disease. The ego says, “My God, this is terrible! I’ve been rejected, I’m unlovable! God has deserted me.”
“Really?’ says the Observer, “Maybe this is an opportunity to challenge your faith. Maybe this is a good thing and it’s time to step back, reconsider your life, seek counsel.”
It’s important that the story – the Crisis – be told, but not so we can cement it into reality and wear it like a badge. What if we had the wisdom to examine what happened to us from a non-judgmental place, and see how the pain presented us with an opportunity to learn and to grow?
Transmuting Pain Into Wisdom
Our stories carry the perfect nutrients for the harvesting of wisdom – I promise you this is true. Our job as alchemists is to transmute pain into wisdom. Those of us who are interested in growth and evolution are here to eat poison – the way the peacock consumes fungus from trees and then turns the poison into colors.
We have a choice; to transform our pain into beauty. Some of us will choose to sleep, others will wake up inside the dream. It’s a choice. You can have the life of complaining and victimization, or a life that fulfills your soul.
“We must each lead a way of life
with self-awareness and compassion,
to do as much as we can. Then,
whatever happens we will have no regrets.”
—THE DALAI LAMA
Heartbreak, illness, financial despair, death, abandonment – you name it. Your job in this life is to polish and refine your stories – to grind up the hard-to-swallow, chunky bits and turn them into digestible nutrients, not just for your own evolution, but also for that of our entire species. That is why we are here. We need to grow into our humanness without judgment so we can live and contribute and love more fully.
Learning Our Lessons And Being Vulnerable
Nothing is what it appears. The lessons you are carrying seem overwhelming, yet they are just what you were assigned by your soul. I know that sounds spiritual and lofty, but I promise, it’s true. Once you tell your tale, you will realize, “What a story I keep telling myself. So defeating and convincing – is it true?”
The human path always includes pain and darkness. Look how we are born, through pain. That’s how it goes down here.
Being human means being humbled – at worst it includes humiliation. Each of us will walk down the street called Embarrassment Avenue. We may feel lost and without a rudder. But in those times when we are in it, at the deepest levels, and we are closest to our knees, our soft belly appears, open and tender. And we finally learn: Being vulnerable takes far more courage than pretending we are strong and above it all.
Will you willingly allow yourself to be human without shields and pretense? It’s ok to admit: I am scared. I love you. I am sad. I am alone.
It won’t matter to the Earth whether humans wake up with a soft touch or not. Evolution will march on without us, as it did with the dinosaurs, indifferent to our pain. I like to think we’re an experiment of the gods. They are watching us and wondering what path we will take. They are watching you, wondering if you are looking up and listening to your guides, spirits, angels, and wisdom.
The question is: Are you feeling the nudges and listening to the wake-up calls? Or do you need drama to get your attention?
©2016 by Debra Silverman. All Rights Reserved.
Publisher: Findhorn Press. www.findhornpress.com
Subtitles by InnerSelf
The Missing Element: Inspiring Compassion for the Human Condition
by Debra Silverman.
In The Missing Element, author Debra Silverman describes human nature in a compassionate and succinct way. Everyone longs to be understood and the author offers ways for us to get to know ourselves in depth with the wisdom of archetypes.
About the Author
Debra Silverman works on an individual basis as well as in workshops to impart emotional wisdom through a simplified language that describes the qualities of Water, Air, Earth and Fire. She received an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. She trained at York University and studied Dance Therapy at Harvard. Find out more at DebraSilvermanAstrology.com.