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Suffering, Pain and Crisis


Everyone experiences some difficulty, pain and grief in life. A certain amount of unhappiness is a natural part of the process and learning entailed in living. Pain triggers natural defense processes that are meant to protect us. This can easily be seen in the case of the physical pain we experience if we touch something hot. The body instinctively pulls back because it is not good for it. With psychological pain it is often not as easy to see the cause, although the psyche has its own instinctive way of defending itself here, too. Often, however, the defense structures established in childhood (primarily by withdrawal, aggression or submission) become restricting when, in adults, they contribute to a rigid personality based on fear and negative assumptions that limits our ability to grow. It can lead to a crisis if we either do not listen to the message in the pain, or our beliefs do not allow us to change. Although we may dislike this, pain is actually is an opportunity for expansion and renewed life. Nature is forcing us to change--for our own benefit.

If we can think about suffering in this way -- as showing us ways we need to change to claim ourselves, our capacities and intents -- we can be more open to seeing what message it contains for us. One's inner self is invulnerable and not threatened by anything we might experience. The places where we experience pain in our lives are therefore showing us where we are out of alignment with our inner self or have not fully realized some particular awareness or capacity we have. We need to change and grow in this area to realize our innate potential.

As adults, we create our life as a result of our beliefs about who we are and what is real and right. Dysfunc tional assumptions which were acquired when we were children may be changed as we become aware that they do not reflect what we truly are. To summarize:

As adults, we create our own suffering as a result of wrong assumptions about ourselves and life which are usually established in childhood--often as a result of normal reactions and defense processes.

Pain and suffering, in adults, are lessons which show us where we are out of accord with our inner self.

We need to take responsibility for ourselves and our experience and realize that we can change by releasing old ideas and patterns which are dysfunctional.

We have the innate ability to understand the lessons our experiences hold for us, and to change so that we live a harmonious and fulfilling life regardless of what difficult experiences we have had. We have the potential of living a harmonious and fulfilling life.

Most erroneous ideas of who we are assume that we have to life in fear and cannot trust ourselves or life. These assume that reality is a threat and that life is a struggle for survival where we have to use our power to get the things in the world we need and lack. The ideas which are in accord with our inner self are those related to love and trust where we understand that the universe is actually working for us and our benefit. We can learn to live in harmony with it and our spirit. When we learn to listen to our inner knowing, life will flow more smoothly and the inevitable problems which arise will be resolved more easily, without so much trauma or crisis.