As strange as it may sound, emotional pain is an experience that I have come to appreciate, deeply.
No, I’m not a masochist. When I feel bad, or hurt, or upset in any way I still want to be free of that painful experience.
But along the way, I have come to see my pain in a new light.
I don't avoid it anymore. Instead, I found a new way of appreciating pain. It has opened me to more joy, more peace with myself and with others.
In the past, my usual way of dealing with pain was to suppress or repress it. Faced with emotional suffering, I tried to push the uncomfortable feelings into the dark corners of my mind. From those corners, the pain would eventually find its way into the body, appearing as disease.
I know firsthand the heartache that comes with having a teenager who struggles with eating disorders and other self-harming behaviour. Helplessness combines with guilt and even shame. I was fortunate to discover how to be happy despite our circumstances, and learned that not only could I be happy, but by being happy I was helping my child. That’s why I must debunk the myth that we can only be as happy as our least happy child. This unfortunate concept condemns parents of unhappy children to life sentences of misery. It doesn’t have to be this way and what’s more, the unhappiness parents suffer contributes to the ongoing misery of their children...
Here are a few reasons why being a happy parent actually helps a child:
One of the key ideas we use here at Choose Again is that “nothing outside of me can bring me anything I want.”
Many of us are already familiar with this idea. We know that "happiness comes from within.” Or at least we have learned to accept this, intellectually. As familiar as this idea may have become by now, it is always worth taking a pause over.
There is a great treasure buried underneath the simplicity of this statement - “nothing outside of me can bring me anything I want.”
In this blog, I would I like to offer a way I have found to “dig deeper” into this treasure. If nothing else, it can offer you a fun and thought-provoking way to think and reflect on a statement that might have already become a dry cliché.
So, allow yourself a few minutes in which to reflect, and to enjoy. If you have a journal nearby bring it, or you can use anything to write down what you will discover.
I was looking through some quotes the other day and I ran across one that said something like:
Be good to yourself. Forgive yourself. When you treat yourself well life will treat you well.
I eyed it dubiously and then moved on to other sources. I was bothered by it, though so I went back to re-read it. It is an idea that I have heard many times over the last few years, expressed in a variety of ways.
I am uneasy around it because it sounds like something the small self would grab onto, in pursuit of building a better small self. I agree that it is important to love, forgive and be true to myself. But I cannot do or be any of these things as long as I am attempting, from the ego, or false identity, to be more forgiving, or loving or self-accepting.
“Resolving your own personal conflicts is the first step to ending global conflict.”
- Joseph Eliezer
I appreciate this thought, and would expand it to say that:
Healing the addiction to conflict that lives in my mind is the only thing that will heal the conflict, that seems to be going on, out in the world.
I’ve thought about this often in the last few years. Two things that have brought it into focus for me are recent school shootings and the rise of Donald Trump’s popularity as a political candidate in the United States.
When I first started hearing about school shootings, they were far from home. I recognized
"The willingness to trust and follow your heart - not the reactive ego that is often interpreted to be the heart, but the heart that longs to know God - this is a tell-tale sign of whether or not one is reaching maturity".
(from The Way of Mastery)
This quote reminds me of the importance of distinguishing between the guidance of the ego and the guidance of Inner Wisdom. A few years ago it became popular to speak of being "guided" to certain decisions or actions. As I listened to my own mind, and the minds of others, it began to seem as if there was often a hefty dose of self-delusion involved. I saw how easy it was to simply follow the dictates and compulsions of the ego, and to believe that I was following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is an aspect of the spiritualized ego.
Conversely, sometimes people have told me they asked for guidance and received it, but
“Wisdom begins when a man finds out that he does not know what he thinks he knows.” - Plato
The Six-Step Process is an extraordinarily effective way to remove barriers to love and to thereby increase happiness in those who choose to use it. There are, however, a few pitfalls to be aware of. The ego’s very survival is threatened by this process. It is sly and even vicious in its endeavor to reassert itself. Here are the most common challenges:
1) Step Two: Me. It’s about me.
Do not stray from Step two. I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not fall for the temptation to “justify” your feelings. It is so easy and tempting to admit or recognize that you are upset (Step one) and then immediately either tell yourself or others why you are upset. The
While I was working at El Cielo, our residential treatment center, I first heard the phrase “This is what Love looks like right now” used by Diederik, in response to what looked like an adverse situation. I didn’t really know what he meant, but as he said it, I felt a sense of relief, and an acceptance in myself that had not been present the moment before. Over the next few weeks, I saw he and other co-workers respond in the same way to apparent difficulties. This was not yet a tool I was using, but I became more curious each time I heard it, at the sense of relief I experienced.
I was talking to someone yesterday who said to me “I’m really in the trenches lately, and I was feeling so great. I can’t figure out what’s going on!” He said that after some time of feeling light and peaceful, he seemed to have lost the experience and life was feeling like a struggle again.. He said ”Where is the me that was so happy a few days ago?”
If you sometimes find yourself in a similar spot, here are 4 tools that I have found effective in helping to change direction:
1) When in a busy location (school, shopping centre, public transit) or even during a family dinner. Take a moment to look at the people around you. Focus your attention on one person and say to yourself. “What I see in you that I love about myself is my…” then go ahead and list what it is you see in the other person that reflects the innocence within you. Another form of this same strategy invites you to state “What I see in you that I struggle with in myself is my…” and list a trait you judge yourself for having. Once identified, ask
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