This is part 2 of a 3 part series on showing up for work when things are falling apart.
Life’s obstacles hurt, but losses don’t have to bind us to our story.
In Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, Caroline Myss writes: “We are not meant to stay wounded. We are supposed to move through our tragedies and challenges and to help each other move through the many painful episodes of our lives.”
There is a danger in staying stuck in our wounds. We start to see ourselves through the eyes of the one who is injured or we start identifying as a warrior, survivor, or even the peaceful one who doesn’t let the actions of others cause any pain. We can take false refuge in any identification. This gift of challenges, losses, and disappointments is it can crack the shell and open us to the deeper truth of who we are.
Our darkest hours reveal us. Adversity shows us what we believe about ourselves and our world.
We break open in an instant or slowly come undone.
Either way, once open – once aware – we have a choice. We can harden or open our hearts, focus on what’s lost or experience gratitude for what we have. I’m not talking about a free pass where we skip over hardships with the “oh well, I guess it is for the best” way of bypassing emotions that needs to be processed. But to exercise choice we must be aware that we have one. I love the way Patrick Donovan describes this in The Face of Consciousness.
“Choice is the chisel with which we sculpt and shape the reality of who and what we are. We are what we are by the choices we make. By the continuous act of choosing, life writes its own story, following the plot of self-realization through self-reflection.
We begin to see that choice involves a paradox.
- We are free to choose and constrained by what we want
- We can use our gifts of discernment while remaining innocent
- We widen our hearts while growing in autonomy
- Our strengths include our ability to bend
Our choice is to let the poison of pain become the medicine.
The first thing is a willingness to be unconditionally open and takes responsibility. It means asking honest and pointed questions about the contribution we make in our on-going suffering.
Questioning brings us into the interior of our world. It illuminates the beliefs we hold and cuts through conditioned places which prison us.
When you begin to question, use a pen and paper to capture your thoughts so they can’t escape your inquiry. The mind can be slippery. If you use a written investigation process you’ll have a better chance of seeing the underlying beliefs.
Some of the thoughts I called into question were:
- What am I searching for?
- What do I sense is missing, or lacking?
- What am I doing to give those things to myself?
- Why do I want to be in a relationship?
And then these questions started taking me deeper into what I had believed about myself, the thinking around what I deserved, and how I had created my suffering.
In a remarkable post by John O’Donohue, there’s a reminder that the awakening of the soul is our greatest adventure. While we long for home, the place where we truly inhabit our being, we also avoid it.
As John so beautifully puts it, “ The greatest friend of the soul is the unknown. Yet we are afraid of the unknown because it lies outside our vision and our control. We avoid it or quell it by filtering it through our protective barriers of domestication and control. The normal way never leads home.”
With each question I began to see from a wider perspective.
What had awakened would never go back to sleep.
I let go of the idea that what I was doing should feel comfortable or that it should be easy. Each understanding became a stepping stone to a clearer perspective. Truth revealed more love. Love gave me courage to keep asking the difficult questions.
Why hold onto suffering?
I started to question more.
Why hold to an imagined better future when right now the sun is sparkling in my hair, the ocean is drenching me in love, and the wind is whispering sweet secrets to my soul? It’s time to start being the love I want to see in the world. Why not dive into the mystery of my own being?
I could free myself of the shoulds.
I had to say yes to the desire of my soul to live in divine imperfections.
I wanted to trust in a way I had never trusted before and to live in the Rumi quote “live life as if it were rigged in your favor.”
To know the mystery experiencing itself.
I wrote day after day in my journal. I started writing and reading poetry. In this language of paradox, I could feel tenderness and compassion carve new openings in my intellect.
My first poem ~ Finally ~
Still waiting for the answer
hoping for direction.
In this deep longing
something has changed.
Something is different.
My voice is finally coming through
allowing the longings to speak.
I’m overwhelmed, yet my heart is dancing.
I’m losing everything, yet surrounded by fulfillment.
With every turn inward, every surrender to what is,
There’s a whisper only I can hear.
For so long I had lived on the outside. Even beginning The Dawning Point, I didn’t know what to say or how to express the depth of what I was feeling. When I finally let go of what I had believed about myself, when I stopped looking for approval, I found the music that had been playing all along. There was music in my soul, and it took this loss to become quiet enough to hear it.
“Through my seeking of what is beyond beautiful, of what is intriguing, of what is free from all imperfections and wrongs, I realize my soul is not from here. ”― Khadija Rupa
The obstacle became the path. I couldn’t have what I wanted, and that was the way to what I needed. It led to the true desire.
The best and worst things do happen unexpectedly. Life will continue to surprise us, and we won’t always like it. But we can use whatever comes our way as a gift to be opened, held, and fully seen for what it is. We emerge better equipped to understand and have compassion for ourselves and each other. We rise like the phoenix from the ashes, transformed through the alchemy of pain.