Suffering doesn’t make us grow –
but what we do with our feelings could make us grow. ⚡️💡
It’s an interesting saying though. Where did it come from? Perhaps it’s because anguish and acute awareness sometimes occur near one another, in time and space.
For me, however, what makes us grow is understanding our feelings, questioning the thoughts behind them, seeing the cause-and-effect of it all, and mindfully letting go.
If we utilize this information the next time these feelings arise (anger, sadness, depression, confusion, fear), we can remember the awareness, the ‘aha’ moment, or insight we discovered before. We can notice that what we are experiencing in the here and now is separate from the past, and know that our reactions don’t really apply in the current situation. Awareness sets us free to respond differently.
Uncomfortable feelings are nearly always preceded by a stressful thought, and when the feelings come, we can isolate the stressful thought, idea, or assumption and question it thoroughly.
I find journaling a powerful aid here. Just write your rambling thoughts about a situation that made you uncomfortable (in your mind or in reality – doesn’t matter). Then let it set. You probably will already feel better because the act of writing is cathartic. But for true growth to occur, go back later and read what you wrote. Pretend you are a scientist! Your job is to (compassionately) dissect your writing to find the threads of connection…
Try asking these questions:
1. Have I ever felt this way before? Are there any other similarities?
Personal example: I had to go to my son’s junior high school to deliver his medicine. I noticed I had a racing heart, a sense of urgency to complete the task, and an overall sense of shame and dread.
It made no sense in my logical mind.
Have I ever felt this way before? Are there any other similarities?
Junior high was very scary for me. I was picked on by other girls and I was even beaten up a number of times. The threats often occurred when students were moving from one class to their next, so I was especially scared when that bell rang!
2. What were the beliefs / thoughts around the event?
Awareness: my heart is racing; I have a sense of urgency and intense fear.
THOUGHTS: I Visualize being attacked. “If I can become unnoticeable, I might make it… Hopefully the bell won’t ring!”
Once we gently meet our past with understanding, we can separate those experiences and respond to the present authentically.