A big part of being at peace involves our ability to sit with discomfort. Not everything in life feels good, or is easy to deal with or comprehend. Sometimes we are the source of our greatest discomfort, and sometimes other people or the events around us give us an opportunity to lean into our fear, our rage, our guilt, grief or shame. It isn’t easy, but it’s how we learn and grow.
We all have our stuff, and even if you do the work to heal, to become intimately acquainted with the source of your pain, the things that trigger you, or the thoughts and tendencies that weaken you, it’s likely that you’ll have to grapple with them from time to time, because you’re human and this is no easy gig. But a lot of the time, we resist and contract against our own experience, especially if it’s messy, complicated, disappointing or uncomfortable. Maybe we’ve made a mess—said something or done something we wish we hadn’t in a moment of weakness or anger or confusion, or maybe we’ve been on the receiving end of poor treatment. Perhaps it’s circumstances that have us pushed to our edge; mostly, life does not unfold according to the vision we had in our heads of “how things should be”.
The source of addiction is this feeling that we can’t take it. We can’t withstand this temporary feeling, we have to do something, now. The best thing to do is have a seat and breathe. Because if you drink the feeling away, or pop a pill, or go shopping or hop in the sack with someone, that feeling will just arise again in the not too distant future. It won’t go away unless you face it down. Unless you examine the root of your discomfort, it will direct your life. And no feeling is forever. If you practice leaning into your painful feelings, you’ll find they arise, peak and subside like every other living thing.
The very best thing you can do when you feel “pushed up against it” is to breathe. Fighting reality will not change it. You don’t have to put everything in the thank you column, you don’t have to be grateful for every experience in your life. Some things are devastating and will never make sense. But you can always grow from your pain. You can use your suffering to become softer, more open, more empathetic. That’s so much better than resisting, denying, numbing out or running. The longer you do that, the longer your pain owns you. And you know what? I wouldn’t let pain own you, I’d let love do that. Sending you some right now, Ally Hamilton