When Life Breaks You Open

Your life is speaking to you.  Do you hear it?  What is it telling you?

Life is a constant influx of opposites. There is much joy to be experienced and on the flip side, much pain.  If you are reading this and have experienced something painful or are currently experiencing something painful, I hope this post helps you to know that I get it.   I also want you to know that I have faith in you that one day you will pull on every ounce of courage you have to step out of your pain and step into healing.

Whenever we go through pain, it can be the same as when we trip on the sidewalk- we ALWAYS stop and look back at “what made us trip.”  We look back and then dismiss it, hoping that the fewest amount of people possible saw us look foolish as we stumbled and then, we try to recover our dignity by standing up straight, acting like it didn’t happen, and walking more mindfully, so that we don’t trip again.  We do that with pain too.  We know that it is there, but there is one exception to being aware of pain; we don’t always seek out what the bump in the road really looks like or what its purpose is.

You may be asking ,”Why do I  have to go through this hell?”   You have experienced something awful, something terribly painful and you want to know “WHY?!”  And the second question you ask is ” I am here, in this pain.  Now,  how do I get out the hell of here?”

You might or might not be someone who believes in the saying that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.  I am not sure what I believe about that, but here’s what I know; that what happens has both meaning and message and you have the choice to open yourself up to hear its call to you or shut down.

The feelings associated with pleasure let us know that something good is happening. It is important that we experience joy, happiness, laughter, and bliss. These feelings raise our energetic vibration to a higher level, allowing us to be in a “love state”.   Pain has a different message and its message isn’t always received with open arms.  Just as happiness is essential to living fully in our lives, so is its opposite; pain.  We must experience pain to know what happiness looks like, feelslike, smells like, and tastes like.  And we must experience pain to stretch us emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, so that we grow as soulful human beings.

It’s easy to open yourself up to joy.  After all, it feels great, you benefit from it in every way possible and you welcome it.  But what happens if you repeatedly push away the pain.  What happens if you decide that you can’t open yourself up to the message of your misery?

When you ignore your pain and avoid dealing with it directly, you can rest assured that it will reappear, doing whatever it takes to get your attention until you stare right into its menacing eyes and ask it this one question: ” What are you here for?” Only then, will pain shift its form from an enemy to a friend.

Pema Chodron, a well-known buddhist monk, shares a concept about healing from pain, once we have acknowledged it.  She said, in order for healing to happen, you must lean into the sharpest edge of the pain and get to know it.  She is very right.  In essence, she is saying, open yourself up to the brokenness that you feel, from the deepest point of your pain, and you will open up to healing.  You must experience the pain to move through  it.

Those of you who just want “closure” from pain tend not to get the closure you seek, because you what you seek is to push the pain away, disregarding its purpose.  You must experience it so it doesn’t turn into something else– anger, blame, and/or shame.  If you rush into your grief or push it aside, you run the risk  of missing out on essential experiences that will ultimately soothe your heart.  Dealing directly with pain is the most difficult part of life.  It can be brutal, humiliating, shameful and seemingly unending.  But healing can happen.  The timeline for healing, however, isn’t the same for everyone.

I know people grieve differently.  Even though there are recognized stages of grief, NO ONE person experiences them linearly nor do any of us grieve in the same way.  Some people will stay in their pajamas for months at a time; others will eat everything in sight; still others might drink or drug themselves numb.  And, yet, there are some people who say that the loss that they have experienced must contribute to the greater good of the world and that they must rise up to meet life again, head on.  HOW you grieve isn’t to be judged. WHAT you do with your grief is to be decided upon.

Those who experience devastating moments such as the loss of a child or the loss of their sense of safety if they have been physically violated, know that these experiences forever change who you are.  And yet, this experience is not the single factor that defines you and your life.

In fact, these tremendously excruciating moments often RE-DEFINE you, pulling you towards a new awareness of yourself and push you to carve out a new set of rules about who you are and who you can become.  Every part of you is tested, pulled, stretched and invaded as you grieve.  But, if you give yourself the time you need to conquer each part of the pain, leaning into the sharpest points of the pain, then you will certainly become a different person than you had ever been before.

These devastating moments call on your free will to do one of two things: you can choose to step up and into the new way that you must live your life or  you can choose to run away, and risk the shadow- self chasing you all the days of your life, with all of the feelings that you chose to ignore.

In other words,  you can break down and stay broken or break open and begin to live life with placing certain pieces of your past life, in different places.

If you are someone who is in the throes of grief and loss, of someone or something in your life, and you are reading this, then when you are ready, you can do any of these things below and begin your healing journey.

1.  Give of yourself.  Life is lived along spectrums.  From professional, personal, and socio-economic living to age, education, and status.  That means that no matter how bad off you believe your life to be, there is someone out there who is worse off than you.  Find them and give them what they are missing in their life.  When you give you get.  It is also fine to give to yourself.  In fact, I encourage you to give yourself the love, compassion, caring and devotion that you might offer someone else.  You will be doubly blessed!

2. Practice Gratitude.  This is one of the best and most immediate ways to bring you into the present AND it is one of the single most effective ways to bring you into a state of love and thankfulness.  You are entitled to mourn and grieve, but also allow yourself the entitlement of appreciating what you already have.  These can be memories of what has been good in your life, what you have accomplished, the clothes in your closet, the car that you have that gets you to your job or the gratefulness that you have a hobby you love.  It really doesn’t matter for what you are grateful, just that you are.  FEEL what it feels like to really be thankful for the gifts that you already have.  It is certainly powerful and it will bring more good things into your life.

3. Use your free will. Be grateful and thankful that you are still living and have the free will to do whatever you wish.  You have the free will to change the course of your life, to do and be whatever you wish and to change the lives of others.   You can plug back into life by “doing.”

4.  Find like-minded people. By like-minded people I mean people who can truly understand your pain and can help you move through it; not people who will collude or commiserate in pain with you for their gain and to block your healing.  Find people who bring you into life, who nurture you and who can support your healing.  Immerse yourself in these people.  Breathe their air.  Walk with them and let them walk with you.

When bad things happen, you can consider yourself broken or broken open, allowing what happens in life to imprint on you what it needs to, so that you will grow bigger and taller, broaden your shoulders and become stronger and stretch your soul so that you become wiser and more complete.  Allow what happens in life to contribute to your greatness and then give life back what it asks of you: the fullness of you.

In love and light,

Janis

www.cohenfamilycounseling.com

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