Sequencing: The Importance Of Pain

Do the bad things that happen to us in our lives need to happen?

The events which transpire in our lives shape us and define us. Whether good or bad, they lead to outcomes, and generally they move us forward. None of us is broken. None of us needs to be fixed or saved. Control is an illusion — we cannot and do not exercise it on each other, nor does it exist in the universe as a construct; we do not control our destiny, we manifest it.

We are becoming. We are each perfect as we are, with flaws, foibles, fears, and fantastic and varying amounts of greatness.

And we do not do it alone. We need each other. It requires a you and a me. No great feat in humanity has ever been done alone, though all have components which you must do yourself.

Sequencing — defined as the pattern of events which transpire in our lives to shape us, prepare us, and create outcomes — is one of the processes we use to appreciate the events which have shaped us after the fact. We then appreciate that each event does and must occur in succession of another. Funny thing is that most of the time we do not bother to look back unless an event is really traumatic. Then we really ask “What the Fuck?” and want to know the answer. When we look at these events in the context of their contribution, and truly become unattached to their outcome, then the pain which came along with them becomes bearable.

Most importantly, the process of finding the reason from all of this pain, will open us up and help us make better choices in the present, and embolden us to more freely make difficult choices in the future knowing full well it may hurt, but I can take it, you can take it and we all will be better off.

The sequence of the events of our lives, what they bring us to, and who they help us become is massively important; and may take years to piece together, which is why in any given moment of the past, present or future, we look for the signs that tell us “do it” as it may very well be for the higher good:
Some odd 30 years ago a 21 year old woman, while running from her family, found herself in a church in Florence on Mother’s day. Her own mother was schizophrenic, violent, unstable and a chain smoker, married to a father who sexually abused her. She was forced at a young age, as eldest, to fend for herself, and raise her four sisters and brothers. She had fled to Italy in an all too common act of defiance against the injustice of her life, and lot.

And so she ran.

She was tired of the abuse, and caring for her family, and in this church, in Florence, she was flooded with the abject terror and certainty that something had gone wrong:

For on the other side of the world, her 10 year old sister (who had been diagnosed with severe asthma; who had been forced to live in a house filled with cigarette smoke; who had been given too many steroids designated by the doctors for emergencies but used with frequency by her parents to offset the symptoms of the smoke, causing a breakdown in lining of her heart) had an asthma attack. As her lungs and mind filled with the panic of imminent collapse, she ran from the house intoning, and echoing the words of her elder 21 year old sister, “I have to get out of this house,” collapsed outside, unable to speak further, and in a prolonged time of agony, in which an ambulance could have possibly arrived had the parents allowed one to be called, this beautiful 10 year old girl went into cardiac arrest.

And, in the arms of her helpless 18 year old sister, died of a broken heart.


We need to carefully examine the process of what we are becoming, for choice is a major component in our lives. Whether you believe in god, fate, the unknown, a higher power, or nothing at all, we cannot ignore the consequences of these choices, and more importantly, we cannot ignore or try to avoid the pain.

We are sadly a generation of “me” bred to believe that our individualism makes us a whole, though our history is one of tribes, nations, marriages, partnerships, and Aristophanes-ian Soulmates (the most important work on the subject of Love, thousands of years old and pure truth — link below). We are not merely just me. It takes you and me to actually make the I, whether it’s birth or any other component of life. But we can be selfish and afraid. We need to acknowledge it, first, in order to change it.

The majority of our pain and trauma causes us to react. While we have a multitude of emotions (and corresponding organs where they reside), we generally gravitate on a continuum between the two poles of Fear (in the adrenals) and Passion or Purpose (in the heart). When we are connected to our passion, true purpose, or what Cuelho calls the “personal legend,” we achieve an almost meditative state of compassion and acceptance where we can be unattached to the outcome. We’re filled with love, we know everything will be ok because we have faith in ourselves and our place in something greater.

Our fear and adrenals have their use in our survival, and management of crisis. When we apply the adrenals incorrectly though, we run without purpose, we love while fearing an outcome (a panic-ridden mess), and thus facilitating a less desirable outcome, which generally results in greater pain. The balance of heart and adrenals, of fear and love, is at the core of sequencing — you must recognize the events, the sequence, and connect with your purpose to achieve your greatness. Remember, this is not of the mind, and you can’t think it or reason it with logic — it is simply the heart, and our most basic connection with the unknown which we feel.

Early on a Sunday morning I was given this story, by a woman who 30 years later has helped hundreds if not thousands deal with their pain, and achieve more of their greatness.

She recognizes that she made a choice, and acknowledges that at the time of her choosing, she knew — that if she went to Italy, something terrible might happen to her sister, but she also knew that if she stayed she would die herself. It was like what they say prior to every flight on a commercial airline, should an emergency occur, put the oxygen mask on yourself first.

She had no cell phones then in that church, no other means of communication, and she fought her best friend who sought to protect her from the urge to call home, but she learned of her sister’s fate in her heart in a church, and confirmed it hours later in an American Express office. On that day, she recognized the depth of her connection to humanity. She made friends with her pain, and encourages others to do the same; to listen to their hearts first and trust that everyone has the courage to at least take another big god damn breath and know that somewhere, somehow, everything at some point makes sense.

Embrace the sequencing in your life. Recognize it. It has made you great, and each day, you will see signs that will you lead you to further greatness; Look back and pattern sort regularly and not just when traumatized. Remove the sense that you are alone — it’s false. We are all here, co-creating together, and it remains the inescapable truth of life. You may travel different paths, you may have go through additional or considerable pain, you may run, and it is all understandable and ok — at some point you will be lead to the passion and purpose of the heart, and your reward is pure joy.

Yes, the bad must happen in our lives. It is unjust, unfair, seemingly without reason, and we are often victims, for we cannot control it. We must endure it, it’s pain, suffering, and hardship for that is it’s nature.

We have to embrace pain, not avoid, repress, or run from it. I understand humanity as my heart breaks. The pain opens up my heart to compassion and if it doesn’t shut me down it gives me the strength and the will to help others with theirs, as it should inspire us all to open more, share more, and connect better in this heart space. Once connected we can then find solutions to every challenge we face.

Don’t let the fear of pain stop you from taking your next steps. Your heart already knows what that step is.

Once we learn to listen to our hearts we are fearless. We step into the unknown and the fear of pain no longer hinders us;

For it is here we find love, ourselves, and home.Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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