No one likes to feel upset, get hurt or go through challenging times, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.”
Like most of us, I’ve attended the school of hard knocks and experienced my share of struggle. Raised by a single mom, I put myself through college, worked around the clock building a career while juggling motherhood, was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, and went through a divorce three years later after 18 years of marriage. If someone asked me to design my ideal life scene, none of those experiences would make the cut. It’s wildly unpleasant and uncomfortable to go through the hard stuff, but the upside is learning how to accept others as they are and yourself as you are… to let go, forgive, take care of yourself, dance, play, and begin anew.
Here are five spiritual lessons I learned from pain.
1. Feelings come and go—behaviors are what matter. Emotional adulthood is reflected in your choices and how you behave, especially when you’re hurt or upset. Set an intention for how you want to show up in the situation no matter how tough things get. Let that be your guide and solace as you navigate through any challenge. In the end, what matters is your behavior—the choices you made and the actions you took—not the feelings you had.
2. Pain runs lockstep with judgment. When you’re upset, it’s because you’re judging something (or someone) as not being the way you think it (or they) should be. In essence, you are resisting reality. When you let go of being against the way things are, you stop suffering. Instead, be willing to accept the “is-ness” of the situation, even if you don’t like it. Notice how you immediately relax just a bit when you make this choice. If you can accept what is, there is no conflict in life. There are no problems. There is no story. From that place, you can figure out the next step or positive action you can take with more clarity.
3. It is possible to care too much. Showing concern for others is good, but even that can go too far. When you become so other-focused that you are at the whim of the moods and behaviors of your boss, family members or partner, you are out of balance. Worrying too much about someone else’s reactions, thoughts or needs puts you out of touch with your own. Ask yourself, how am I spending my energy? Is it a wise investment? Is my day being consumed by thoughts and stress about this situation or person? If so, it’s time to take action. Your job is to take responsibility for your part in things and allow other adults to do the same. Stop draining your precious energy on things outside of your control and make sure your mental and emotional wellbeing is a priority.
4. Don’t fast-track discomfort. Lessons repeat if you don’t learn them. When you move too fast out of difficult or uncomfortable situations without learning from them, they are guaranteed to repeat themselves. Notice if there are situations in your work, life and relationships that have a common thread or tend to reoccur. If so, it’s time to look deeper at what’s going on. If you don’t want to live your life repeating the same lessons over and over again, you must SLOW DOWN so you can observe the patterns that are presenting themselves in your life. Once you can see them, you can learn and grow from them.
5. Trust deeper in a larger plan. One of the huge challenges of being human is that we want to control. But the truth is, our brains can’t even begin to comprehend the vast and detailed inner workings of our lives. When challenged, do your part, do the very best that you can, and then trust what is happening is somehow for the highest good. Remain curious about the why’s and how’s as you continue to put one foot in front of the other. Life is a miracle. Be open to letting it guide you, teach you, support you, and reveal its awe-inspiring plan to you every step of the way.
Tags: Coaching, Pain, Spiritual Lessons