“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”—Khalil Gibran
I’d like you to close your eyes after you finished reading this article and think about a current problem. Try to get a sense of the situation and whether other people are involved. Don’t create a mental dialogue but imagine the scenario as best you can. Now zoom out as though looking down upon yourself via Google Earth. How does your problem appear from this vantage point? Notice the other things to observe around you from that distance. You might see your local park, swimming pool, roads and freeways, and landmarks. The point I’m trying to make is: when we are embedded in our problems, we are not aware of the other details of life simultaneously occurring. We become caught up in our problems and don’t realize our thoughts are the source of our pain, not the events themselves.
It’s fair to say, there isn’t one person who hasn’t experienced pain and suffering in their life. Even a young child born into the world undergoes the pain of labor via the birthing process. Its supply of nourishment via its mother’s umbilical cord is abruptly cut and it must learn to breathe on its own. No one is immune to the ravages of life, however, the degree to which we suffer is within our control. What we believe about our pains and worries will decide whether we suffer from our predicament or overcome it. Are you satisfied that you alone determine the quality of your life? You must because you either stay mired in your problems or look for a solution. Life is difficult, though if we make it our centerpiece of attention, we will always find things to be disappointed about. Sometimes life goes in our favor, other times the tide turns against us and we are in a place we never expected to be.
“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”—Rumi
How can things be smooth sailing one minute and then suddenly turned on its head the next? I don’t pretend to have the answers though wisdom has taught me to observe the patterns of my life which sometimes appear chaotic and random. This does not mean life doesn’t know what it’s doing. It may be that we don’t have all the answers when certain events take place. Though, if we look back on our problems, we can see how the pieces of the puzzle come together in perfect harmony. Which means, if we cannot control the outcomes of life, what power do we have within the framework of our lives? Our attitude is the one true constant we can control and hence why the degree to which we suffer is within our own volition. It is not the event itself that causes our pain because if Viktor Frankl can survive the concentration camps of Nazi Germany and become one of the most revered psychiatrists of our time, we too can overcome our problems. Are you seeing that your problems are only subject to your thoughts about them and it is within your power to change them?
I’m not suggesting it is an easy process and requires a willingness on your part to stop being the victim and change your mental narrative regarding the problem. It requires flicking the switch to activate your inner power and resiliency, to face whatever is taking place. This might be why being thrust into hardship requires us to find our way out, otherwise, we will perish alongside our problems. It is our resistance to what is taking place that fuels our suffering and inflames the pain already present in our lives. Wouldn’t it be easier not to have to contend with this? Wouldn’t it be easier if we could summon our inner power and accept what is taking place? I’m not proposing by accepting your problems you consent to it. Acceptance means non-resistance which helps you find a solution, instead of being the recipient of the pain. Going back to the problem I asked you to imagine earlier, what three actions you can take right now to help you lean into your problem and see it in a different light? It might be as simple as changing your thoughts about the situation or finding time to journal your thoughts until an inspired solution arises. Whatever the case, we must remain vigilant and trust the pains of life are seldom the problem, it is our readiness to accept them that awakens our greatest power.