Here’s to a New Year and a New PEACEFUL You!!!!
I don’t know about you, but I am still sitting with that feeling of shock whenever I write out the date and the last little bit is 20….20!!!! I love the new year as it always feels like a new challenge. A clean slate where I can refocus and set some goals. It is important to reflect at this time on what is important to us and what we feel we might need to change or incorporate into our lives in order to achieve a greater level of peace. I say peace and not happiness as I think this is where a lot of confusion comes in. I often ask clients what it is they would like to achieve out of therapy, and they reply with ‘I just want to be happy’. This is so important, of course, but the scary thing is happiness will never be a constant state. We cannot be happy when we are in pain and pain is an inevitable part of life. The challenge I believe is to find inner peace. With inner peace I am settled in both my joy and my pain. Peace allows me to take a step back in both these circumstances and feel a sense of gratitude.
I’ve recently come across some articles related to the concept of welcoming pain. This seems like such an unhuman thing to do. We are taught to avoid pain at all costs and in many ways, this makes sense but as I mentioned previously pain is a part of our lives. What becomes dangerous are the tools we utilize as a means of avoiding that pain.
If someone has had a traumatic childhood where they’ve witnessed constant abuse in the home with no sense of safety, in turn they learn that you can never know when danger may strike. They may begin to avoid this ‘pain’ by becoming very studious and find solace in their books – it becomes a much-needed distraction and their only coping mechanism. As children we don’t choose this method of coping. It just happens and it feels good. It feels safe. We then learn that this becomes a method of soothing when we feel hurt, scared or lonely. As adults we tend do the same with our jobs and become workaholics. Anytime a situation or emotion that we are unable to deal with surfaces we bury ourselves in work. We think we are fine. Everyone else thinks we are fine. Until one day BOOM it hits like a ton of bricks, we realize “I’m not okay” – “I have no idea why” – “I’m confused and scared”- “I have not learned to deal with my pain”. These tools do not yet exist in the toolbox for tackling life. But what is great is that it’s never too late.
This might be the time people choose to enter therapy, although therapy is not the only means of learning. Sometimes it can happen just by having some honest open conversations with a partner or friend, or even reading a new book. The key here is honesty. If you are honest with yourself, you will have the potential to look at yourself with a more compassionate heart. With compassion, you can have empathy, forgiveness and then peace. So often we compare our suffering to those around us. We might rationalize that although we grew up in an unsafe environment, at least we had two parents. Or even though we were verbally abused, we were not sexually abused. With this we completely disqualify our pain, our struggle, our story. All of our stories have had hardships. We do not need to compare. Mine was enough for me, yours is enough for you and that is what matters.
The peace allows us to look back at our stories with gratitude. “It made me who I am”. It also allows us to know that pain is inevitable and that when we are in the midst of it we should pause, allow it to engulf us, process it and when we are ready, be it weeks or months later, we can move on.
One of the quotes that I rely on in many situations is that nothing in life is permanent. This is true for both the good and the bad. This allows me to immerse myself in the good fully as I know it may pass soon but it also helps me through the tough times too as I know nothing sticks around forever. The only permanent in life is change.
2020 can be a great year. It is up to us. I hope for you all you find compassion for yourself and your situation and ultimately you have a peaceful 2020.