By Evette Gardner
There are moments in our lives when we've all asked it of ourselves, why does this keep happening to me? I know I've had my fair share of breaking point moments. And it took a good while, along with a string of difficult and painful experiences, for me to realize that a better question to ask myself in the midst of those instances when I feel like I'm at the end of my rope is, okay, so what am I supposed to be learning here that I just haven't been getting? Because as unconvincing as it may initially seem, pain is never a punishment. We don't experience trials in life because we're bad people. Nor do we suffer hardships because life is unfair. I'm going to let you in on something which will probably electrify the skeptic in many of you. Life (actually) is always fair - ALWAYS. Your experiences in life are meant to educate you. And this education can sometimes feel extremely demanding. You have never and will never be guaranteed that your experience in life will be easy, but you may rest assured that it will always be in the best interest of your greatest good.
Pain has a useful purpose. Stress has a constructive function. It is a universal truism that you can never really know what you're made of until you finally resign to face those things which scare you most. If you truly knew the extent of the difficult situations life could throw at you, and that you could not only handle but actually excel well beyond, you would be amazed at your own brilliance. Too often however, we elect to avoid what seems too difficult. We allow our fears to govern our choices and our doubts to determine our actions. These are the blocks we encounter over and over again in life. Every now and then, as we're trucking along, we collide into these obstructions to our spiritual growth (sometimes not even realizing what has hit us). Other times we simply allow ourselves to be turned around when confronted by whatever ominous thing lies before us. We, too regularly, opt to go in circles rather than deal with life's uncertainties. But life's lessons cannot be dodged. One way or another you are going to learn the inexhaustible scope of your strength and power. You will face whatever insights life is trying to show you or you will find yourself stalled on the same redundant track of recurring experiences until you do. Everything moves in cycles. However you have a choice as to whether you go around on a flat plane or whether you rise through the ascent of spirals into the reality of your fullest potential. When you elect to do the former you confine yourself to a two dimensional playing field where you will discover (oftentimes to your great horror) that all that comes up in your life experience is everything you have been trying to avoid.
Stop trying to run from pain. Stop trying to maneuver your way out of taking what appears to be the more forbidding paths in life, those paths where you can just sense that a whole host of your inner bogeymen are waiting to jump out at you. Truthfully you
would be better off if you simply adopted a life philosophy of immediately tackling any and everything which makes you doubt yourself and the awesome wonders you are capable of because the fact of the matter is, is that it is impossible to get around confronting these misgivings anyway. So you might as well just go ahead and face them up front because the situations you encounter which reflect your insecurities are only going to re-present themselves in more dramatic and more intimidating forms the longer you put off challenging them.
Being an in recovery procrastinator myself I can completely understand the appeal of kicking those little pebbles of fear down the road to be dealt with another day. The problem with this however is, is that those little pebbles are like debts, they're constantly accruing interest. So the next time you come across that pebble, it won't just be a pebble, it will appear in the form of a rock which you may very well choose to throw down the road once more only to happen upon it later as a boulder. You can go ahead and simply go around this stumbling block in its new form but know that the next time you see your once little pebble, it will then be a little wall. And on and on until you decide to suck it up and own your trepidation.
One of life's many truths is that any erroneous belief you have about yourself or the world around you will eventually take form and "grow legs." It is nothing more than the wrong ideas that you cling to that come to pass as your life's painful experiences. This pain is intended to wake you up from whatever delusion has you rapt. Don't try to walk away from what scares you, don't try to avoid it because it will only end up haunting you. Instead make the conscious decision to consistently do the most courageous thing even in the face of crippling anxiety and self doubt. There is no other way to reach your greatest promise. You have to walk through the fire, so to speak, in order to realize the truth of your inherent power. But if you cop out, if you yield to the panic of uncertainty you will only invite escalating degrees of suffering into your experience. The only way to recognize the absurdity of your fears is to delve in and explore them. You have to be willing to be present with them if you ever want to expose your fears to be the senseless things that they truly are. And until you do, you will remain confined by the very phobias which you have been trying to escape from.
It's an expression I first heard while watching a Wayne Dyer PBS special (whether or not Dr. Dyer is the original author of this expression, I'm not certain, but it really is a good line). He says, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." Fear is the source of all of life's pains and trials. Yet fear is nothing more than a false perception. The only way to move beyond life's difficulties is to move through your fears. So the million dollar question then becomes, well how do you do this? The answer is so simple it might actually seem too easy to be legitimate. But Wayne Dyer is absolutely right. You have the power to change the way you're looking at whatever may have you afraid. You have the power to imagine something different as your reality and in so doing reveal the true nature of your fears to be a complete farce. Because once you truly realize that you are the author of your life's script, what is there really to be afraid of? You and only you have the power to determine your life's experience. You are the one who brought your fear to life, and you are the only one who has the power to take it out.
One of the biggest mistakes people often make however is to try to reason their fears away. This is always a losing battle because you cannot use logic to affect something which is itself illogical. In other words, you cannot reason with fear because you cannot apply reason to an emotion based on a false perception which is, at its core, founded on irrationality. Using this strategy, fear always has the upper hand. Why? Because you can know, logically, what's right and truthful and still not be accepting of the truth. And acceptance is what ultimately shapes your experience. You have to know in your gut what the truth is in order to truly recognize the lie of a false perception. Fear, being an emotion, doesn't turn on reason, it turns on emotions which conflict with it. And the way you excite these conflicting emotions is to stay present with the experience of your fears until you can feel that something is wrong with the perceptions that fuel them. It is this feeling (that something isn't quite right here) that will turn you off to the lies you've been telling yourself. It is this feeling (that something isn't quite right here) that will spur you to reject the delusions which have enthralled you.
So how do you get passed life's painful and difficult experiences? The answer is by facing the fearful perceptions which prompt them. By being present with the experience of a fearful perception you will eventually begin to sense its inherent absurdity. And it is this sense which works to shake your faith in your fearful beliefs. Once this faith is shaken, the fear it pertains to will quickly vanish along with all the painful and trying symptomatic incidents in your life which its viral presence was causing.
So let's break this down point by point.
Both pain and difficulty are products of fear.
The only way to move passed life's painful and difficult experiences is to move through your fears.
You move through your fears by facing them. And you face your fears, not by trying to deny them or distract yourself from them, but by being present with them
When you stay present in the mindset of any negative perception which spurs a fear sooner or later the feeling will arise that something about the thoughts you are engaging, is "off." Reason won't be able to adequately explain what exactly is "off," yet the feeling will grow more pronounced the longer you stay present with these thoughts.
In your being present with your fearful thoughts you will eventually come to a place where you will find it impossible to take these thoughts (and the overall perception built from them) seriously.
Once you have lost confidence in the reality you imagine it can no longer be your reality because your life experience will adapt to reflect your new beliefs. Therefore the fear you once felt and believed in, along with all of the other side effects that that fear created, will disappear. Thus pain is overcome and difficulties are surmounted.