It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. Life comes down to two things: pain or pleasure. Think about it – everything you want, do or work toward is motivated by one of these two things.
Whether it’s endless Internet dating (so you’ll find a partner and not die alone), working long hours (so you’ll get that raise and not lose your home) or taking your daily dose of vitamins (hoping to not get sick)… all of your energy is consumed by going toward what feels good, and trying to avoid what feels bad, right?
Misery loves company
There’s just one little problem – in attempting to sidestep our pain, we’re not very good at dealing with it. It’s true especially in Western cultures where we have few rites of passage and the constant pressure to “pull ourselves up by our boot straps” and live shiny, fabulous lives. We’re much better at pushing our misery away than we are at moving through it.
Carl Jung was right
However, by suppressing our suffering, we only empower it and thereby make it worse, according to numerous sources, indigenous cultures the world over, several major religions and modern psychology. As Carl Jung famously said, “That which you resist persists.” Whether it’s the pain of loss, shame, disappointment or rejection (which often creates a cocktail of several less than fun feelings), the uncomfortable truth is if we don’t honor and go through our difficult emotions, they’ll wreck havoc on our lives, causing us to ruin our relationships, suffer from depression or addictions, and give up on our dreams.
4 simple steps to heal
We’ve compiled some research and feel that these are the best steps to start to heal and move on:
1. First, acknowledge that you’re not a superhero, and that your pain exists.
2. Next, ask yourself, “Is there anything I need to do as a result of this pain?” Perhaps you need closure with someone so try communicating with them in some way – maybe you need to write someone a letter or email to tell them how you feel or plant the favorite flower of a loved one who has died, or make amends to someone you’ve hurt.
3. Do a ritual: This can include doing things like giving away everything an ex-lover gave you, burning old love letters in a fire, throwing yourself a “happy divorce” party, or making a collage or photo album.
4. Turn your tragedy into art: If it weren’t for heartbreak and sorrow, the world would have far less poetry, great works of literature, sad movies and love songs. There’s a reason for an entire branch of therapy called “art therapy” – it’s cathartic. So, draw or paint a picture to your pain, write about it, role play with it, or bang a drum to it. Who knows? You may not only feel better, but discover a hidden talent.
Reframe your pain
If you believe what so many new-age and spiritual teachers tell us, that everything is for a reason and ultimately for our highest good, ask yourself – what gift could this situation have in store for me? What could it be trying to tell me? How could this seemingly bad thing be good? If you can’t think of anything, that’s okay. The answers may not be clear – yet.
Think about getting help…
Join a support group, work with a therapist or life coach or seek out a spiritual community. It feels good and who knows who you’ll meet there – a soulmate, a life-long friend or just someone who reminds you of who you are again.
Give it time
One of the reasons we consider “time the great healer” is that it’s only with the further unfolding of events that we often find that the thing we thought was so terrible was the very thing that ultimately led to something great – that heartbreak led to a better relationship, that job loss led to a more fulfilling career, that health crisis led to more compassion for others and a greater appreciation of life.
If doing any of the above doesn’t sound like much fun, remember, though you may not find your dream partner on the Internet, or get that big raise, or never get sick, you’ll no longer be at the mercy of your pain. And that will lead you to the greatest pleasure of life – that of being whole and healed.
Carol Allen is the host of Enlightening Relationships on Karma Sol Radio, and the author of the eBook, Love is in the Stars, which can be found at a website of the same name.
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