There are certain things in this life that are so heartbreaking it’s hard to know how to process them; where to go, what to think, how to breathe. Sometimes we suffer losses that are so knifing, all we can do is try to find a way to move forward, to open, to feel joy, to have hope again. When we’re in the midst of heartache like this, just getting through is enough. Grief is personal, there’s no certain time limit or formula, you just allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel, and to ask for and accept help when you need it. If you’re lucky, you won’t have to ask, because you’ll have people in your life who know how to show up for you.
Short of that kind of devastation, much of our suffering is created by our own thoughts. The ability to choose one thought over another is powerful and worth honing. This comes up in small ways and large. If someone cuts you off on the freeway, you don’t have to respond with anger, curse them inside your head, flip them the bird, or allow your blood pressure to go up. You could simply focus on your breath, on the steering wheel underneath your fingertips, on the beautiful sunny day, or the dark stormy sky. If someone you know, or someone you don’t says or does something thoughtless, you don’t have to take it personally, you don’t have to judge them or condemn them or feed your own self-loathing if that’s your tendency. Maybe the crazy driver is having a really tough time right now. Maybe the thoughtless person cried herself to sleep last night. Maybe not. Maybe they’re selfish and thoughtless all the time. Even so, that can’t be an easy way to live. Regardless, you could choose compassionate thoughts, because they feel better than angry thoughts. The world really doesn’t need more aggression or apathy, and since you can’t control the behavior of other people, you could turn your attention to creating a peaceful world within you.
It’s not easy to choose the thoughts that strengthen us rather than weaken us when we’re feeling judged, shamed, misunderstood, betrayed, rejected, shunned, or are having a hard time forgiving ourselves for a mistake, but if you’ve examined something from every angle and learned all you can, nothing productive will come from obsessing over a situation. You’ll just deplete your energy and make yourself sick. I realize this is so hard when there’s a lack of closure. Few things in life get wrapped up in neat little boxes, though. Life is messy and human beings are complex, and frequently driven by unconscious motivations and desires. Most people don’t set out to be cruel or unkind. Not everyone is able to face their fallibility or vulnerability, some people run like hell from that stuff. There are many times when acceptance is all the closure you’re going to get. Even if you understand the why’s and how’s of a situation, the heart speaks in its own language. Logic doesn’t help much when all you want is love or a hug or some understanding from one particular person, and you just can’t get it.
You can’t make people see you, forgive you, understand you or love you. You can’t make anyone faithful or happy or accepting or open-minded. People either are these things, or they are not. You can always look at those situations that have caused you pain and examine your own participation. Maybe you allowed yourself to be treated badly, and if so, it would be very useful to understand why. Maybe you overrode your own intuition because you were attached to an outcome. Maybe you got caught in the trap of selling yourself, even though you’re one in seven billion. So looking at this stuff can be illuminating, or extremely painful, or a very necessary part of your healing process, or all of those things, but after awhile, there’s nothing new to learn. Once you’ve held a situation up to the light, looked at whatever you brought to the table, tried to communicate, apologize, understand, or heal as the case may be, you really have to find a way to put the thing down. You don’t want to let a past hurt rob you of too much of your now or your future.
When you notice you’re spiraling, allowing your mind to head back to a topic you’ve already exhausted, the trick is to catch yourself as quickly as possible. To pick your mind up and bring it back to your breath (always happening in the now, and therefore a very grounding tool when you notice you’ve traveled into your past or future). Then you train your mind on thoughts that will bring you steadiness and peace. Time helps take the sting out of things. I don’t believe it “heals all wounds”, but I think if you’re willing to allow yourself to truly feel all of your feelings around painful events, that also releases the heat. You aren’t here to obsess and close yourself off and shut yourself down. If a person cannot see you for the amazing and beautiful gift you are, allow yourself to be released. Forgive yourself when you need to, and get back to the business of being awesome.
Sending you love,
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