The image of kintsugi is often applied to life as a symbol of hope that good can come out of our pain. When used in that way, the metaphor is full of hope and comfort for many.
But it has the potential to be more than that.
Choosing to live a kintsugi life is an act of fierce courage that transforms not just the pain of the moment, but also transforms the whole life of the one making such a choice from the inside out.
So what does it mean to live a kintsugi life? How does adopting this as a deeply embedded frame of reference transform one's life?
Oddly enough, one sign of living a kintsugi life is the ability to face and embrace the brokenness that exists in it. Because I know that all brokenness is a temporary circumstance that does not define who I am as a person, I no longer have to fear acknowledging it and dealing with it.
Knowing that I am inherently whole allows me to face my wounds with compassion and gentleness without flinching so that I can get about the work of healing them.
This is a critical step in the process—until I can acknowledge that there is something that needs healing, I can't do the work of healing it.
This means that I can't keep trying to stuff that pain down or pretend like nothing's wrong or keep a stiff upper lip. Instead, I walk right up to the jagged edges and get to know every one of them carefully and intimately so I can start the work of putting them back together.
This lack of fear in facing those broken, wounded places in me is an important part of living a kintsugi life.
Focus on healing
Another sign of living a kintsugi life is an absolute focus on healing. It is not enough to get to know the jagged edges if I am not also working to put the pieces back together again.
While healing does come in its own time and can't be forced, I can be committed to creating conditions in my life that are conducive to that healing—changing my thought patterns, attending to my emotional and spiritual needs, choosing healthier relationships, or getting the help I need.
Because I know without a shadow of a doubt that inner healing is possible, I am not tempted to give up and wallow in my pain or allow myself to become a victim. Every painful encounter with a broken edge is a reminder to do the work I need to do toward healing the break.
Fierce insistence on growth
In the midst of that focus on healing, kintsugi also tells me that there is gold to be found in that healing. So living a kintsugi life includes a fierce insistence on finding that gold along the way.
I am utterly determined to wring every bit of growth, learning, and wisdom from the situation along the way. I may not have had a choice about encountering the pain of brokenness, but I can choose to make the best use of the experience by using that pain as fuel for my personal growth.
This is an active, driven quest to alchemize the pain to gold, not a hopeful waiting for something outside me to fix things.
This absolute commitment to deriving every possible bit of gold out of life's hard times may be the most radical sign of living a kintsugi life.
Treasuring the gold
The commitment to finding the gold in the healing that is happening (and has happened) in my life means that I have learned to treasure that gold.
My focus on identifying that gold clearly so that I can name it and articulate it brings my focus continually back to cultivating and supporting those places where I've grown and expanded through the hard times.
It does not make me rejoice the pain or for the hard times themselves, but it does mean that I can't think of those painful times without my attention automatically being drawn to the good that I was determined to derive from the healing.
I can be grateful for the gold without ever being grateful for the brokenness that led to it.
This movement from thinking of myself as a victim to a focus on the gold that resulted is another sign of living a kintsugi life.
Unafraid of my scars
As I treasure the gold that I've won along my healing journey, I lose my fear of my scars. I no longer have any need to pretend that they are not there because I am too busy treasuring the gold that is in them.
I am able to admit to the times of brokenness in my past without flinching in embarrassment or reliving the intensity of old pain because I am more drawn to what I've gained from the experiences.
My weaknesses have become my strengths, and I am no longer ashamed of them.
When I put all of these together, the result is a much greater resilience toward future brokenness.
Not only have a learned more about myself, developed new inner skills, and nurtured healthier patterns, I've also learned that I can survive life's brokenness in ways that make me a better person. I don't have to let painful times destroy me.
This has been an eye-opener for me and has given me the ability to face new times of brokenness with greater courage and resilience than I would have imagined possible.
My kintsugi life
Choosing to live a kintsugi life has not always been an easy choice—and there are still moments when I find myself falling back into old victim thinking or other unhelpful habits—but living into this way of being has transformed my life immensely positive ways that I never would have expected.
Kintsugi is indeed a beautiful sign of hope, but choosing to live it out as a kintsugi life offers so much more power to transform life from the inside out.
Are you living a kintsugi life?
In what ways are you living a kintsugi life? Which of the signs mentioned above do you recognize in your life?
What other signs of living a kintsugi life have you noticed in your life that I did not mention?
How has living a kintsugi life transformed you as you've faced painful times?
What changes might you make in your life to live even more fully into a kintsugi life?
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