BY RUTH LERA
An excerpt from Walking the Soul Path: An Energetic Guide to Being Human
Many of us are constantly forcing ourselves to feel happy, which often means we are avoiding our true feelings, and therefore strengthening soul patterning of self-denial.
If we are overly focused on the positive and ignoring the negative, we are likely avoiding soul challenges that need our attention.
Admitting to our own unhappiness can be difficult because we have been taught that happiness is the optimal feeling.
We have been taught to ‘always look for the positive’ in every situation.
The problem with engaging in fake positivity is that it is akin to applying a layer of candy coating of good thoughts over a gooey middle of pain. If you bite hard enough, the positive thinking will crumble and the real substance of suffering will inevitably be seen.
When we use positive thinking to avoid our pain because we don’t like how it feels, we are repressing our pain and not actually healing it.
Thich Nhat Han, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist explains:
“The practice is to transform yourself. If you don’t have garbage, you have nothing to use in order to make compost. And if you have no compost, you have nothing to nourish the flower in you. You need the suffering, the afflictions in you. Since they are organic, you know that you can transform them and make good use of them.”
And we all have at least some garbage in our systems ready to be composted, but we can only do this effectively if we take sole responsibility for the pain we experience. Mostly we don’t take responsibility for our own pain. Instead, we blame others for our pain because we think it will hurt less than taking responsibility for it ourselves. In this way, we let our pain be the fault of our parents, our bosses, our spouses, the medical system, the government or society as a whole.
We believe that if one of these external sources would just change then we wouldn’t have to feel so uncomfortable. But it is only when we take full responsibility for our pain that we can transform it into something healing and of benefit to our soul path.
Taking responsibility is not the same as accusing ourselves. We need to be careful when we’re taking responsibility for our own suffering that we are doing it from a place of self-love and empowerment, rather than turning the knife towards ourselves in anger and blame.
We want to avoid taking a punitive approach to the healing process. We want to embody an attitude of loving-kindness when facing the pain within ourselves. By being willing to see that the pain and suffering we experience is ours and ours alone we can finally start doing something about it.
When you start to see that the pain you are experiencing is actually an inside job, do you get angry with yourself?
Many people do. Many people call themselves names such as loser, screw-up, moron etc., when they realize that it is their own internal attitudes that are causing their own suffering.
But the transformation of our pain into soul path growth will never
materialize from treating our own self badly. Self-criticism is the way we become weaker and more fearful of the world. Self-blame and self-shaming has us believing that transforming our problems into something beneficial is an impossible task.
It isn’t impossible at all. Actually, it is totally possible.
The first step to healing soul patterns that aren’t healthy for us is becoming aware of them. We need to know that when we see our neurosis clearly we are going to be able to use this information wisely and not as a weapon against ourselves.
Dr. Brené Brown, best-selling author of “Daring Greatly” explains:
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
This perspective that honestly acknowledging our own pain and suffering is the only path that will move us in the direction of healing is essential if we want to have the courage to turn our challenges into productive opportunities for transformation.
If there was another option we would all try to take it. There isn’t. Facing our pain is the only option for healing our suffering.
No one really likes this. No one likes looking at their own darkness. It is frightening, it is lonely, and often we feel helpless and like we aren’t strong enough to succeed. But these feelings pass.
Admitting that being aware and open to our pain is an incredibly difficult process helps us understand that we aren’t failures in any way when we are finding life hard. We are just normal people doing a courageous thing.
It is only when we fully recognize that being human is intrinsically difficult that life actually becomes easier.
The Dalai Lama wisely tells us:
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.”
We turn our problems into healing opportunities by working very consciously with our minds, our hearts, our bodies, and our energy. Instead of blaming ourselves when pain and trauma occur we can realize that we have an opportunity in that moment of pain to create a new neural pathway- not because it is easy but because we love ourselves. Blame and shame will never bring us the healing we are looking for, only new choices towards the life we truly want will.
Ruth is the author of Walking the Soul Path: An Energetic Guide to Being Human.
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