Working with our pain and fear

Posted by Kenetha Stanton on

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

There's a particular part of my life that has broken over the last few months. It's a rather important part of my life and one that had been working quite well until recently, but it has slowly stopped working well at all.

This whole situation has created quite a bit of frustration, anxiety, and stress for me.

The little fear monsters that live my mind have been going with nuts with their stories of doom that they whisper in my ear day in and day out.

The sense of rejection wrapped up in the situation makes my heart ache, and I'm angry—oh, so angry—that this area of my life that I thought I had so well sorted out has broken down and stopped working as I need it to.

Despite my commitment to kintsugi living, my primary way of dealing with this has been to attempt to stuff my emotions down as much as I can to focus on fighting against what's happening.

I've been busily trying to fix the situation by making adjustments everywhere I can imagine. When that doesn't work, I resort to burying my head in the sand in the hopes that it will just fix itself.

Neither approach is working to repair what's broken, and my lack of progress tends to result in me focusing on all my weaknesses and faults and spending an inordinate amount of time in self-criticism and struggle against my own issues.

I came across a quote from Pema Chödrön's book Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living yesterday that has given me a glimpse of a new, more compassionate approach.

"The basic ground of compassionate action is the importance of working with rather than struggling against, and what I mean by that is working with your own unwanted, unacceptable stuff, so that when the unacceptable and unwanted appears out there, you relate to it based on having worked with loving-kindness for yourself. Then there is no condescension." ~Pema Chödrön

Ever since I read that, I can't get the thought out of my mind. What would compassionate action look like here?

What would it mean to work with this situation instead of struggling against it?

What would it look like to work with my fear and frustration and other difficult emotions rather than struggling against them?

How could I work with my weaknesses and faults that are potentially contributing to the situation rather than fighting them?

What if I were able to approach the entire situation (including myself in the midst of the situation) with compassion as I would a friend rather than as the enemy?

It's only been a day since I've been focused on this new possibility, so I don't have any answers yet. There's been no real change in the situation itself, but what has been shifting is my reaction to it.

The fear, frustration, heart ache, and stress are still there, but they are softening as I have begun to approach them with compassion.

I may not have a solution yet, but I'm seeing new possibilities to experiment with as I drop my struggle against the situation and approach it instead with a desire to work with the reality I'm facing.

Don't get me wrong! I'm not talking about accepting the situation as it is or about giving up or giving into what's happening.

Compassionate action is still action, and working with something is still working to create change, but it's already a less stressful way of being in this situation because I've moved from struggle into compassion.

There's already a glimmer of hope and peace flaring to life deep within as I move into this compassionate space of working with the situation, my difficult emotions, and my unwanted baggage around it that all the fighting in the world never produced.

What would working with whatever challenges you are currently facing look like?

What would it mean to drop the struggle against those challenges?

How would it feel to work compassionately with the difficult emotions you have surrounding this challenge?

What's one step of compassionate action you could take today to shift things?


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