Today’s blog explores the spiritual practice of presence – specifically how the simple act of being present to our pain can bring profound healing, growth and transformation. In this case, “No pain, no gain” is a true statement.
Avoid the Pain
I recently had a really interesting experience where I found myself simply being observer to my journey, instead of my normal role of victim. It was a situation where something very innocent was said to me – something that in and of itself was harmless enough, but of course, my inner victim wanted to make it a threat, a source of danger, another incident where I got to be the victim and someone else the enemy. It was so strange to watch, like a slow motion replay, how my inner self responded to this “innocent something.” As the words left the other person’s lips, I clearly saw a daggar coming through the air and stabbing me in the heart. I felt my being recoil in pain and then sink into the pit of martyrdom and depression. I withdrew. I became silent. I shut down. This chosen response remained until later in that same day when I suddenly decided that the “other” had to be the enemy. I quickly made up in my mind all kinds of scenarios where I was convinced this person was bad, didn’t like me, was rejecting me and how I would decide to not like them in return. Then I went into fear. I went into that place in my mind where I make up stories about what my future needs to look like, might look like, is supposed to look like. And then again, depression, rejection, anger and pain. By the end of the day, I was exhausted from being battered about by my inner thought demons. My typical response to this kind of reaction is to push away the pain, the hurt, the perceived rejection and I usually do this by harboring resentment, anger, rage. I was surprised, however, to find that something else all together began to unfold.
Pull the Plank from your own eye…sister!
Instead of gathering around myself the cloak of protective anger and resentment, I found myself simply being present. I let myself feel the hurt of perceived rejection. I allowed myself to be present to the impatience and frustration of not having “my plans fulfilled.” Instead, I simply sat with the question – what does this mean? And when I allowed myself to be present to this question, several answers began to be revealed. First I saw the “innocent words” and had to admit that I had entertained these thoughts myself on some level and that all they were doing were reflecting my own fears around the particular subject. Then I saw the way that I cling to perceived surety, concrete plans, a “secure” and “predictable” future…..of my own making, of course. Following the clinging, I saw my intuitive knowledge around this subject and the sudden fear, “What if I was wrong?” Then I was acutely aware of two pretty big fears that I have struggled with for as long as I could remember: ok….actually it was three fears:
- The fear of rejection (of not being loved, accepted, understood, etc.)
- The fear of not being right
- The fear of not knowing my future (ie: the need for security, surety, concrete plans)
When I identified these three fears, something amazing began to happen. Instead of running from these fears, pushing them away, ignoring them or bargaining with them, I decided to sit with these fears and see what happened.
Making Friends with our Fears
After turning the finger of blame that I was waving toward the innocent “other” back toward myself, I was able to identify the fears that caused me to hear a simply innocent comment as something potentially hurtful. Instead of stomping away in anger or retreating into the dark coccoon of depression, I decided to sit with my fears. Instead of pushing them away, bargaining with them or denying them, I allowed myself to be present. I allowed myself to FEEL the fear of rejection. I allowed myself to EXPERIENCE the fear of being wrong. I sat with the little girl inside of me that wants everything to be safe, predictable, planned out and HER WAY. And then, I breathed! I breathed these fears into myself and allowed myself to be present to them. Then here was the miracle…….they all went away. I saw the fear of rejection evaporate into thin air. I heard the voice of my truth reminding me of what I know to be true for now. And the little girl stopped clinging to the illusion of perceived surety while she sank into the arms of God and let God carry her to where she needed to be….trusting that all would be well.
How might you become more aware of your own defensive reactions to perceived hurts, etc.?
How do you run from or avoid the pain of loss, disappointment, not being in control, etc?
How might you be present to the pain and allow the possibility of healing and transformation?
Authentic Freedom Ministries