We all have felt pain; life makes that inevitable. We mostly deal with the pain by repressing it, distracting from it, or less frequently healing it by allowing it, feeling it, and releasing it. Most are hazily aware of their unreleased inner pain. Pain is a catalyst for growth, one of the biggest, like it or not. But most run from this pain. I have too. But pain is not necessarily the enemy. Pain makes us take action by making choices. These choices are often habitual and defensive. For example: pulling your hand away from the proverbial hot iron, in this case not necessarily wrong. Defenses can be useful, unless they no longer serve us. Sometimes they prevent our healing, we then become stuck. The pain becomes familiar, almost comfortable.
If we find ourselves being “burned,” in the same manner repeatedly, then this is a sign that we are stuck: we need to be aware of this, so we can change. The pain becomes a messenger, a teacher. Everyone can change, but they must be willing. We are but a choice away from change. Some believe that people don’t really ever change, they just modify their behaviors. Not true, unless you choose it by not being willing to look into the depths where the roots of the issues lie. So, sometimes we need to be burned again to make us aware that we are putting ourselves in the same place, doing the same thing again, it just looks different. We’ve placed our hand on another form of the iron, and yes it still burns. OK, so maybe we should look at why we are doing this, maybe make new choices. But often we just find another iron, a new and different one, and we wonder why we are burned again. Like moths to a flame, we are drawn to it and we get burned. Then we blame the flame. So we lick our wounds and find another flame. Sound familiar? I know that scenario from personal experience.
Naturally, this is not in our best interest; yet it may be what we need. Yes, I meant that. Let me explain. We get stuck, we don’t see other options, or we are just plain lazy, complacent. After all, growth is work. There are no magic pills, or quick fixes; in fact it is like exercise. You just get to keep on doing it. “But I don’t want to, or it is too much work, or I can’t, or (fill in the blank with whatever excuse you can come up with).” We all have excuses, me too. I don’t want to write this article, because I will have to deal with myself in doing so. I will even have to admit my failings, failures, and worse, my own culpability in hurting myself, and maybe others. That’s not pretty. The late Dr. Carl Jung called looking at this part of ourselves the “disagreeable part.” He meant that in a big way. But there is something else, and I see this in me, and I don’t like it. What is it?
What we don’t (choose to) see is the pain we cause others. That’s because our pain blinds us to the consequences of our own actions or reactions. We hurt the ones we love, and think (fool ourselves) that we are doing it out of love. Then, to make it worse, we know all this on a deep level; we know we’ve created pain in those we love. I see I have done this, and still am, and I feel deep sorrow for this, and this causes me pain. Then, this awareness creates self-questioning, shame, and more pain. It’s a vicious cycle that if I/we don’t change this all will just continue and add to a world already burden with pain.
This last one is the most damaging because it is running rampant in this crazy, pain-filled world. And we are creating it. For evidence of this, instead of just being ourselves, look at the diversity of distractions and addictions we all have at our disposal. These are used to divert our attention from being, which includes looking within. This harming of others and self comes from our “shadow,” commonly called our dark-side. We don’t see it consciously, so therefore it must not exist we tell ourselves. But inside, deep inside, we know it does. This awareness is somewhere in the background of our being, following us like a shadow we just don’t see. Unfortunately, we see evidence that it raised its ugly head, but only from the damage done. Often, we can excuse it away. We may say we are doing something out of love, but it is really self-serving. “It is their issue anyway,” we may think, or “I don’t know how that happened.” And the shadow has struck again.
Now, the trick to changing all this is allowing awareness to steep, like a tea bag. Summoning up the courage to allow the knowledge to seep in, without, let me reiterate, without making us wrong, without shaming ourselves, preventing the infliction of more pain to others and self. I am not saying that somehow magically we will feel no pain or discomfort looking at our actions. However, beyond a shadow of a doubt we know inside everything we do. It stews inside us, like it or not. I am saying that we don’t need to add fuel to the fire, more pain, the shaming of self, to the pot. But we still must have the courage to look within and be willing to heal what we find. How do we accomplish this?
Forgiveness is the answer. Forgiveness of “them,” the government, the world, God, and anything else we blame, but most importantly, of self. We participated in the harming of others and ourselves unconsciously. Sorry, but we all have. There is no escaping this. This is the present human condition. This includes passively sitting by in one’s own rose-colored world, and pretending that pain doesn’t exist, or is not our problem, nothing we can do about it, “I didn’t cause it.” Deaf, dumb, and blind will not excuse it. It is victim consciousness, “it was done to me.” If, for whatever reason, you did not end the situation, then you participated in it.
The evolved human condition may not need all this and will have learned to release by awareness and forgiving. We’re not there yet. Forgiveness is a process and perhaps an unending one. It is not making wrongs OK. It is releasing our energy that is for-giving-up, it must be given up, our lives depend on it. Otherwise, this repressed energy will eat us alive. Sometimes we must redouble our efforts at forgiving, take it to a new level. Life will tell you when this is necessary. It is necessary in today’s world without question and all of us participated. I clearly include myself. I can’t say I like this. But I must acknowledge this, forgive, grow and evolve.
— And the truth shall set you free.