Sometimes we’re in so much pain we just act out. We find some way to ease the burden or numb it out or deny it in the short-term, and we can breathe again. Maybe part of us feels sick about it, disappointed in ourselves, ashamed of our weakness or dysfunction or poor choice in the moment, but this is a normal part of being human. None of us operate from our highest selves all the time.
When we’re on the outside of a thing, it’s so easy to see when a loved one is heading down a prickly path. When we act impulsively so we can feel better, it might work as far as instant gratification goes, but for the long haul, we’ve probably set ourselves back. As hard as it may be to witness, though, we never know what anyone else needs for his or her growth and healing. Sometimes a person needs to slide down a slick, muddy hill into a tree trunk again and again to “get it.”
If you, or someone you love is going through this, try to have compassion. Very few people consciously want to be in pain. Sometimes we’re working out old stuff. Sometimes we have self-esteem issues and things have to get really intolerable before they can get better. We might be acting on unconscious impulses to play something out in order to master it. We may be in a situation that’s clouding our judgment; being in love can do that. Maybe there are other people along for the ride with us, who will be affected by the choices we’re making and we feel overwhelmed by guilt. Basically, being human is complicated. Being a happy human takes a lot of effort, and a willingness to sit with the discomfort of our pain sometimes.
Do you ever have a day, or a bunch of days when it’s just deeply uncomfortable to be in your own skin? Ugh, that is so hard, because there’s no escape! Maybe you’re feeling abandoned or envious or afraid or angry, or you’re feeling tremendous guilt. Maybe your internal dialogue is harsh, shaming, unforgiving, relentless. Maybe you’re stuck looking over your shoulder with regret and despair. Lots of people do not want to sit with any of that, it’s not as if it’s easy or fun. Of course, there’s no way to know yourself if you don’t sit with your feelings as they arise, but many people run from that work for a good, long while. At the same time, you don’t want to get stuck in an old loop, where you’re feeling your feelings but not moving through them.
Usually being on the run gets old, and the realization dawns that if we don’t do things differently, we’ll keep “getting what we’ve been getting.” Since we can’t change the external stuff—circumstances, what people will say, or want, or do—we have to change the way we respond. If you haven’t gotten to that point yet, where you’re ready to try things a different way, try to have patience with yourself and the people in your life. We all get there as we get there, and we’re never done, we’re always in process. Try to honor your tender heart, and do your best not to be reckless with it. When you are, examine what’s happening within you, how you’re feeling about yourself, and what you hope to accomplish with your choices. Know yourself, but be kind, and have some faith that you won’t always choose the muddy, slick hill that ends with a painful collision with some raw, unhealed place within you. There are tools available so you can calm your nervous system and make it easier on yourself when difficult emotions arise. You can also work on the ability to choose one thought over another, which is often the beginning of forging a new path.
Sending you love,
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