Sometimes life feels very bleak. A blog reader contacted me yesterday and asked me to point her to something I’ve written, something from someone else, anything…to help her deal with the crushing life circumstances she’s facing right now.
I don’t know what I’ve written in the past that will be helpful. I don’t know if what I write now will be helpful. But I’ll share some of my own process with you in the hope it will help someone else.
Everyone goes through hard times and most people are struggling to some degree on a regular basis. We don’t see what others are experiencing and they may have a sunny exterior that fools us. We’re all living through difficulties and sometimes the unfairness of what we’re experiencing can be overwhelming. We may think it’s easier for others to deal with things because they’re blessed with gifts that we don’t have in our lives. But it’s a lie.
I’ve always thought I was an honest person. But I’ve come to realize that I tell myself a lot of lies. If your mind is filled with negativity about yourself, others or the world in general, then you’re lying to yourself, too.
Here’s some of the lies we tell ourselves: “I’m not enough. I can’t. It’s too much for me. Others are luckier than me. It’s not fair. If only I had a loving husband, well-behaved kids, a higher income, been raised by emotionally healthy parents ….then my life would be fine.”
Maybe you’ll say, “Avivah, it IS true. That’s what my reality is. Don’t tell me I’m lying to myself and don’t expect me to deny my feelings.”
I can’t tell anyone else what the lies they tell themselves are. For me, my thoughts of fear and scarcity kept me safe – safe from having to be more or do more. That felt safe. It was like Dr. Laura says about a toddler with a dirty diaper who doesn’t want to be changed – it stinks but it’s warm and it’s mine.
We move into adulthood and we’re like big toddlers – we hold onto our pain and stinking thinking because it’s familiar and it scares us to death to think of moving away from that.
I’ve had a challenging month and last week was an especially intense and emotionally challenging time for me. As someone said, it was like “the gates of poop opened up” on me. That was a nice way to put it – it felt much worse than that.
But you know what ? It’s okay. It really is. It’s more than okay. There’s no question that G-d is orchestrating something powerful in my life by sending me so much challenge from so many angles all at once. The question is about what each of us chooses to do when faced with a potential opportunity like this.
Last week I heard a speaker say, “Where you stumble (struggle) is where you find gold.” I’m coming to deeply believe that.
But what do you do with the pain? With the agony? With feelings of rejection or unworthiness or being unloved or persecuted or whatever else you’re feeling?
This isn’t something I can speak to from a place of having resolved this once and for all. It’s something I come back to daily.
It’s a balance – to honor your own feelings and feel the pain – but not get lost in the pain. To be honest about what your needs are, and then make taking care of your needs a priority – without wallowing in self-pity. And to continually turn to a loving G-d to reconnect to your true value, and trust that this is all being done for your ultimate good.
Here’s a beautiful and inspiring talk that I found so powerful and so true, by someone born with no limbs.
If you’re going through a hard time, be kind to yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard. Recognize that invisible challenges take up a huge amount of emotional space and give yourself as much space and compassion as you can to get through.
Focus on love – starting with loving yourself as you are right this minute. Yes, loving your hurting, messy, imperfect self – and know that there’s no such thing as you being inadequate. When you hear the voices that tell you lies about who you are and what you can do, remind yourself: “I am enough right now, as I am. I am enough.”
You really are. And that’s the truth.