When you experience something that affects and influences how you see yourself, or how you see other people, it can be easy to think that the response you have is the only one to have. For example, you may have a partner leave you, or get fired from work, or get diagnosed with a critical illness - all of these things make such a huge impact on your life, and change it so dramatically, that it can feel that there is only one way to see it - as a harmful, painful experience that is purely negative. Because of this, you can feel picked on, targeted for hurt or abandoned by your God or those around you.
When something that significant happens, you begin to grieve the life that you thought you had, and it is easy to think that this is a void that needs to be filled. Yet, in so many cases, on the other side of the pain and darkness, you hear people tell you of the profound lessons they learned by having that experience and how they learned to be grateful for what it taught them about themselves. This isn’t about wishing it happened to you, or wishing that it happened to others, but it is the recognition that by it happening to you, you have learned something about yourself that you didn’t before that has shown you an aspect to your character and personality that was hidden from view. When such things happen, you find a resilience and a capacity to carry on, even when you don’t feel it is possible, and you become aware of strength you never knew you had.
Or … you can get stuck in the pain and the hurt and take up residence there, staying there for way too long and therefore becoming even less sure that you have the strength to get out of it. This is because alongwith the pain we start getting energy from others in the form of sympathy. You will hear me talk about sympathy elsehwere and the type of energy it gives you but the short version is - it’s not good. While we think that feeling sorry for others is supportive, it actually works by telling them (or you) that you are weak and incapable of getting through something. But because it is easy to obtain it is tempting to just keep getting it - but the other side of this means that you also have to stay in the pain and hurt to receive it.
Take a child who falls over. They may cry straight away, but the cry may go up a notch if they see someone looking at them - and go back down if that person actually turns away and doesn’t offer sympathy. And that is what can happen to all of us - we feel the pain, but it is the response from others that may determine whether we pick ourselves up or we cry a bit louder or a bit longer. It is human nature to do this, but we won’t learn anything valuable from staying in that state for too long - and those around us who keep us there by continuing to offer sympathy are not really helping.
You need to feel the pain and hurt and absolutely need to cry and scream and shout and get angry at why these things have happened. But you also have to recognise the point where that energy has become destructive rather than the purge of emotions that it is meant to be. At that point, you start asking yourself what this moment is going to teach you, about the world and about yourself. Start to look for the clues hidden in the pain, of your strength and resilience. Look for the potential growth and evolution that comes from getting through something momentous. It is there, I promise.