In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had so many in-depth conversations with people: old friends, new friends and clients.
These conversations were so meaningful that I found myself reflecting on why. Each of us, although different, had one commonality that allowed the conversation to run so deep: we have all endured deep emotional pain.
It’s very easy to let such pain trap you in the clutches of victimhood, but each of us has risen above that in our own unique way. Lessons have been learned that has expanded our compassion to the world around us.
On one hand it makes me sad to think of how many people in this world are suffering immeasurable emotional pain, but on the other hand, I can’t help but feel we are better, more compassionate people because of it.
That doesn’t mean that the pain hasn’t scarred us deeply – it has, oh, it definitely has. But without the pain, would we be as understanding and compassionate towards others? I don’t think so. Would we ever grow and evolve within ourselves? No, I don’t think so. And without the pain, would we ever strive to help others? Would we be able to relate to someone else’s hardships, and use that as a driving force to create positive change? No, I really don’t think so!
You would think having deep conversations with people about their pain would make me feel depressed, but I believe the opposite to be true. Small talk and light conversation has its place in society, but quite frankly it bores me rather quickly.
Getting deep makes me feel alive and energised. The beauty of such vulnerability warms the cockles of my heart, and deeply nourishes my soul. Maybe it’s because these interactions remind me that I am not alone – we are not alone, or maybe, it’s because these deep and meaningful conversations bring out the purity of love and kindness.
I’m not quite sure, but whatever it is, I’m deeply thankful for it! Thankful that these people feel safe enough to share their pain with me, thankful that my pain may make them feel comforted in some small way, just as their pain makes me feel comforted.
You see, bad things happen to people everyday, a sad but factual reality of human existence; however, where great pain lies, great beauty resides. When we are able to open our hearts to another, that love, I believe, is what ultimately sets our pain free!
Thanks for reading
I saw a quote on Instagram this morning that reminded me of the importance of setting personal boundaries. The quote said “When you put a boundary down, be prepared to repeat it”.
The truth of this statement is far greater than most of us realise. I would even go so far as to say, that lacking boundaries has been the number one contributing factor in all of the misery and heartache I have suffered in my life.
I’ve lacked boundaries in all of my relationships at one point or another: in friendships, romantic relationships, with family, and most detrimentally, in the relationship I had with myself. I guess you could say I lacked self-worth.
It took me a long time to figure out why the same pattern kept repeating itself, over and over. I’d go out of my way for someone, give them my all, and then they would use and abuse me. I believed that if I gave them my all, they would in turn feel compelled to value me and give the same.
For years I felt like the victim who was repeatedly wronged. It never occurred to me until a few years ago: it was me who was the common denominator, and my lack of self-worth was the cause of me not implementing personal boundaries, for myself and others, to adhere to.
I was raised to always put others first and myself last, and when I started trying to put myself first, I felt a tremendous guilt. In fact, at times I do still feel this guilt, but I’m getting better at forcing myself to rise above it and put myself first regardless.
By putting myself first I don’t mean that I’ve become a selfish arsehole, but rather, I’ve made a promise to choose my personal boundaries over self-destructive behaviours.
I’ve been learning to speak my mind in an assertive way; in the past I’ve struggled with this a great deal. I was either really aggressive or completely silent (which turned into passive aggression), and neither way was a healthy approach to the situation.
I’ve now learnt to calmly and assertively say no, or, I don’t agree with you, or, stop, I’m not accepting this behaviour. I’ve also learnt that it’s perfectly okay to cut people from my life that are not having a positive influence on me emotionally.
This is an area I’ve found particularly challenging, but also the most rewarding. People come in to our lives for a reason, and sometimes they need to leave for an even better reason.
I’ve worked on cutting unhealthy ties a lot this year, and I’ve done so unapologetically. Some have been a depressive and emotionally draining influence, some have taken advantage of my (emotionally) giving nature, or didn’t respect my personal boundaries. Others just haven’t been on my wave length, which in turn, has made me fixate on the annoyance of polarity in differences.
In the past I would have agonisingly endured these unhealthy relationships – put myself last, because the guilt from upsetting them overpowered my self-respect.
I’m sure that some of these people are upset and don’t understand why they’ve been dismissed from my life, but their upset is not for me to concern myself with – not when it would be at the expense of my personal boundaries and self-respect.
At the end of the day, it’s ourselves that we have to live with. So, why wouldn’t we or shouldn’t we put number one first? If we don’t, who else is going to?
Sometimes there is power in silence – a lesson that has taken me a long time to realise…
The need to be right is nothing more than self-righteousness – the ego bathing in all of its ugly glory.
When we feel under attack or wronged by another, the egoic mind perceives this as a threat that is a matter of life or death. Perhaps this is why we often feel the need to fight until the last word, for it is only as the last man standing that the ego can feel a sense of safety in being the victor.
I cannot say that at times this green eyed monster doesn’t rear its ugly head, after all, I haven’t quite reached the heights in evolution as say the Dalai Lama for example. But, what I have learned is when my righteousness was at its worst, I was at my worst. I was incredibly unhappy, insecure and self-loathing in the miserable life I had unconsciously created for myself.
I constantly felt attacked, and that made me behave in a defensive manner, which was really due to the deep hatred I was subconsciously inflicting on myself. When we feel a deep sense of security within ourselves, there is nothing another can say that will hurt us, or should I say make our egos feel threatened.
It is in this place of ‘being’ that we become our most powerful-selves. It is here that we realise the power resides in what we choose not to say.
It is very easy to succumb to the egoic need to wound another, but hurting another to make our own wounded-self feel better must not be confused with real personal power. Real personal power means that we can recognise our own personal pain in the mirror image of our rivals. When we see this, it allows us to have the strength and compassion to give our rivals one of the most important things you can ever give to someone – mercy.
In giving our opponent mercy we also allow this mercy to shine through as a healing light to our own wounds. After all everybody has a story, we all suffer whether it’s unconsciously or in silence.
We need to remember when we feel our egos rising, that being righteous does not make you right, and above all else, we must remember the power lies in the silence of your mercy!
What’s a self-righteous moment that you have learned from? When we can openly and honestly recognise these moments, our personal power comes alive!
I recently saw a post on LinkedIn that reminded me of how ignorant people can be when it comes to drug addiction (or any addiction for that matter).
This chap’s post said: “Don’t resort to taking harmful drugs in a bid to cure wounds of the past. Your errors don’t define you, your reaction does. The past is long gone. Just focus on your present, hope and work towards a better future.”
I thought to myself “if only it were that simple!” It was very clear to me that this guy has absolutely no personal experience with drug addiction. It’s always the ones who don’t, that make such simplistic statements about problems that are actually very complex.
Firstly, you don’t consciously take drugs in the hope it will ‘cure’ past wounds. In fact, everything about becoming an addict is completely unconscious. Yes, it’s true, we all hear from our parents, teachers, media, etc., that drugs are bad; but when all of your fellow peers are doing it as ‘just a bit of fun’ at a club or a party, you start to think that perhaps it’s not that bad after all.
These days you are hard pressed to find anyone under the age of forty that hasn’t tried some form of elicit drugs, whether people like to acknowledge it or not, it is widely spread throughout today’s youth. It is also very true that many who take drugs in a party setting do not become addicts. I for one, truly believed when I first started out that I would never become an addict.
So what is it that takes a hold of some, but not others? For one it’s certainly NOT due to dwelling on ‘past errors’ as the LinkedIn chap suggested. In both my personal experience and close observations of fellow addicts, it is due to trauma that amounts to severe unprocessed emotional pain, and you are completely unconscious of the fact that this emotional pain even exists.
This occurs when we (unconsciously) supress deeply traumatic and painful emotions and confuse that with having worked through and let go of these painful emotions. When we supress such pain, it festers and bubbles inside of you – the past is NOT gone at all as the LinkedIn man so easily expresses.
When you first take drugs they are a bit of fun, euphoric fun to be exact and this is where the addiction creeps in: feeling so euphoric is a wonderful ESCAPE from the burden of carrying this unprocessed pain. You start to crave this wonderful escapism and gradually your drug intake becomes more and more, all the while you’re telling yourself “I’ve got a hold of this, I can go out and not take drugs” until, WHAM, it hit’s you. You are not in control anymore – the drugs are, and you absolutely cannot say no to taking them. The addiction has your soul in its deep, dark clutches.
The problem at this point is that the drugs have brought all of your supressed pain to the surface and you honestly don’t know what to do with it. So, now you find yourself taking more drugs, hoping for and chasing the escapism that once, but no longer provides that sweet reverie. There is nothing left but the rawness of your deep and dark pain – the drugs are now exacerbating these painful emotions.
The only way out of this is to do the opposite of what the LinkedIn man advises: you must go back to your past and discover where the root of the pain stems from. It is only here that we can face our demons and look them right in the eye. Confronting them is the only way you can move forward towards a better future, after all, supressing it, pretending the pain doesn’t exist is what brings you to addiction in the first place.
So I’m sorry Mr LinkedIn man, I know you were trying to be helpful, but your hollow words and lack of understanding are counter productive to your intent. Humans are not simple, life is not simple, emotional pain is not simple – if it were as simplistic as you seem to think it is, no one would ever become an addict in the first place!
Thanks for reading.
Have you ever wanted something so badly that it was all you could eat, breathe and sleep? It’s that very thing you desire more than anything else in this world.
For some it’s the desire for money and success, for others it’s the desire to find that special someone or to have their own children. It could even be to win a sporting competition or achieve a particular career, and yet, no matter how hard you try the desired outcome always seems to evade you.
You watch as someone else obtains that promotion at work, wins the trophy, or steals someone’s heart away from you. You’re left feeling rejected, defeated and a deep sense of hopelessness. Once you feel this on a deep level, you start to find your belief system comes to expect this sense of failure: before you know it, your dreams seem further out of reach than ever before. After experiencing this in many different ways, I’ve come to one very important realisation…
ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS SHOW UP AND THE UNIVERSE WILL TAKE CARE OF THE REST!
When we believe we are not worthy of something our fear brings out the compulsion to try and control the situation, and the desired outcome. When we do this we become out of alignment with our hearts truest desires. Energetically our desperation (fear) creates a vibrational discord that pushes our desires away from, instead of towards us. We cannot obtain that which our subconscious mind feels we are not worthy of.
In order to come back into alignment, we must remember that we cannot control our desired outcome, nor should we try to! All we need to do is SHOW UP, and by that I mean participate.
If you want to win the trophy, then participate in the training necessary, and of course the competition itself. If you want that promotion at work, then participate in every work activity or training that can take you there. If you want that special person to share your life with, then participate in everything you are invited to.
Achievement of any kind is a two-way effort: your part is to simply SHOW UP, participate, and let go of the desired outcome. The second part is up to the Universe; who’s role is to provide the desired outcome. More often than not this comes in unexpected ways that always turn out better than we ever could have imagined for ourselves.
Our little minds cannot possibly fathom all of the variables that the Universe takes into consideration when granting our desires, and only problems (resistance) occur when we try to understand that which is far greater than our minds can possibly conceive.
So the next time you find yourself clinging – trying to control a desired outcome, just remember: ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS SHOW UP AND THE UNIVERSE WILL TAKE CARE OF THE REST!
Thanks for taking the time to read. Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments section!
The ‘C’ word… CANCER – it’s a word that shakes people to their very core.
Being faced with your own mortality or that of a loved one, is one of the most emotionally challenging experiences you will ever encounter.
Six years ago I experienced it on a personal level, being diagnosed with Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans: a rare type of skin cancer that only one in a million people get (lucky me). Thankfully after two operations and a large chunk of my back being cut out, the surgeon was able to remove the cancer with a clear margin.
This affected me on a very deep level, but strangely what emerged was years of bottled up emotions from my Father’s cancer battle that started when I was twelve years old. He was diagnosed with an aggressive type of throat cancer in 1997 (my first year of high school).
When I heard the ‘C’ bomb, it completely turned my little world upside down. I shut down – emotionally detached. I refused to talk about it with anyone; in my innocent little mind I believed that if I pretended it wasn’t real, it would simply go away.
It of course did not, and my unprocessed pain started to emerge in self-destructive ways. I rebelled at school, breaking just about every rule I could – and that’s only when I bothered to attend at all. I skipped more days than I attended that’s for sure! I lost close to ten kilos just from sheer stress.
By the age of fifteen I had dropped out of school, moved out of home and started my deep decline into the world of drugs. Going to nightclubs, partying and numbing my pain through drugs quickly became my favourite pastime. It was the only way (at the time) that I could escape this overwhelming emotional pain.
There was, of course, many other contributing factors in this downward spiral, but Dad’s cancer diagnosis hit me hard at what I believe is already a very fragile age. His cancer was an ongoing battle, in fact, it was fifteen years before Dad’s poor little body finally lost the fight.
I’m not going to lie it was fifteen years of what I can only describe as an emotional rollercoaster ride. There were many hard and unbearable moments, but on the flipside, a lot of beauty came from Dad’s cancer as well.
His fighting spirit was nothing short of inspirational, and that example of ‘never give up fighting’, was probably my saving grace in overcoming my own battle with drug addiction.
We laughed a lot as well, especially in the last couple of weeks before his passing. We had so many deep and meaningful conversations, that perhaps may never have happened without cancer entering our lives. Dad became quite philosophical, and imparted his wisdom as a leaving legacy. My bond with my Mum (although already strong) became stronger.
I’ve also learnt about what’s really important: when someone comes to the end of their life they’re not thinking about how flash their house is or what kind of car they drive. They’re focusing on their loved ones, their precious memories and the wonderful life lessons they’ve embodied.
It is from these moments of great hardship that our greatest personal growth will emerge. I believe without these hardship’s, we would never become better people. It is only through deep pain, that deep beauty can arise, and in turn, be fully appreciated.
Yes, I’d love my Dad to still be here, but I don’t think our lives would be as enriched if it wasn’t for the many blessings that Dad’s cancer brought to us. I’m even grateful for the destruction my addiction brought – without it I would not be the strong, loving and compassionate person that I’ve proudly become today.
It’s very easy to focus on the negatives of any challenging situation, there is safety in that ‘victim’ mentality, but being safe has never taken anyone to great heights, for it is nothing more than a smokescreen for fear and avoidance of personal accountability.
That’s not to say that focusing on the positives will devoid you of feeling the fear, it just means that the fear doesn’t conquer you. We will always take hits, stumble and fall, but we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off – and try, try again.
In every hard lesson there is a blessing, we just need to be open enough and brave enough to see it.
Spirituality can mean a variety of things to different people. Ultimately it’s a deeply personal belief – there is no right or wrong, it’s what is right for the individual. For me, it’s about honouring my personal truth by stepping outside of my ego; this helps to keep me grounded and allows me to focus on where my life needs to go next.
Throughout my drug addiction, my spirituality was the only thing that helped my soul find redemption – it’s what drove me back to the essence of my true-self. I’ve strayed off path many times in various different ways, and each time it’s that spiritual foundation that helps guide me back home – to me.
Over the last few months through yoga and deep meditation my third eye has activated, I’ve had a deep awakening and my personal truth has come to the surface once again.
I now clearly see that in the last couple of years I have unknowingly pulled my focus away from my spirituality by focusing too much on my mind. I became so obsessed with changing my thoughts and mindset, so obsessed with thinking that I needed to ‘better’ myself, that I hadn’t realised I was actually losing myself in the process, and pushing away what I truly desire.
Don’t get me wrong, having a good mindset certainly plays its part in creating a great life for yourself, but there is a deeper underlying energetic component that lurks behind the shadows. And in ‘remembering’ this, I’ve realised that my mind has never been where I get my greatest growth from.
It’s beyond my mind to my inner knowing, my soul, my very being that guides me to exactly where I’m meant to be.
As a spirit who is having a human experience, this blissful spiritual state is hard to maintain on a permanent basis, that physicality of our mind – that unconscious ego is strong and does all it can to dominate.
In knowing this, I’m sure I will be taken off path many more times, but, for now, I will relish in this connected knowingness that I have once again come home.
It is in this place, the stillness of my being that I am so very grateful. It is the only place I can recognise how much I have learnt and how much I have grown – it is the place where all new destinations begin from…
Get ready, get set, it’s time for a new – Go!
I’d love to hear in the comments section: what helps you stay grounded (it is different for everyone)?
As always thanks for reading.
Life is very complex, especially when it comes to human behaviour and emotions. It’s very easy to sit on the sidelines, to watch someone from the outside in. From this position one makes a judgement rather quickly – effortlessly preaching all of the ‘right’ solutions to the other person’s problems.
But, as we all know, when you’re the person on the inside, when you’re the one who is stuck in the mud, it really isn’t as simple as the outside person would like to think.
This week I’ve had a very good reminder to not be the arrogant bystander, who let’s face it, really is an example of our egos at their very worst. Someone very close to me, has in her words “fucked up big time”.
She was caught drink driving, with an alcohol reading of five times the legal limit. “What an idiot”, I can hear you all say, and yes, it wasn’t the smartest thing to do – she, herself, knows that better than anyone. But, there is a lot more to this story than just a ‘reckless idiot’, who has decided to drink and drive.
To give you some background: she has been with her partner for over thirty-five years. He has been emotionally abusing her in subtle ways for most of that time. In recent years, he has become an ice addict, and the emotional abuse has now turned into physical abuse.
“Just leave him” the bystanders scream. Yes, that thought crosses her mind all of the time, but, financially she feels trapped. Due to a serious and permanent hand injury she has lost her job, and is now very limited in what she can do for work. She also lacks the confidence and emotional strength to ‘just leave him’, after thirty-five years of being told you’re a worthless idiot, I’m not surprised she feels this way.
On the day in question, her partner was on another ice bender, which sends him into a a drug induced rage – he literally yells and screams at her for hours. She hid in her bedroom for most of the day, drinking alcohol to escape and numb her pain.
The neighbours called the police due to the scale of his rage. He, of course, put on his best behaviour whilst the police were there, only to resume his volatility as soon as they left.
After a full day of this abuse she decided it was time to seek refuge at a friend’s house – she needed to escape this nightmare. She called a cab, as she always does (she never drinks and drives). As she went to leave her partner questioned her as to where she was going. He began to abuse her again and kept screaming at her to take the car, and in that moment of fear and a desperate need to escape, she took the car – only to be pulled over halfway down her street. In her panic, she had forgotten to put her lights on.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not saying that it’s ok to drink and drive, she or an innocent person could have been seriously injured, or worse… What I am saying though, is that life is not as simple as it seems from the sidelines, and those simplistic and often dogmatic solutions aren’t realistically or easily achieved in such complex situations.
Yes, she needs to leave him, but there are a lot of steps for her to take before she’s anywhere near ready to do that. She needs to work on her confidence, she needs to find a job, she needs to have enough money to set up a new life for herself, and most importantly she needs to feel supported by those closest to her in order to do all of that.
Judging her, coming down hard on her, or telling her what to do, may seem like the logical thing to do, but it’s important to remember: everyone is on their own journey. People will learn, grow, and change in their own time – if and when they are ready, and their readiness is the crucial component in any challenging situation. If a person isn’t ready, they cannot learn the lesson.
We cannot force another to take action; to think that we can, or have the right to, is more about our own imperfections than it is about theirs. All we can do in these situations is show our love and support. We must trust that our loved ones will learn, grow and evolve when the time is right for them.
“You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.”
Once trapped in the shadows,
It’s a dark, dark place.
It’s cold, you’re all alone,
You can’t find your way home.
You call out, but no one hears.
Now consumed by all your fears.
Dark shadows hover around,
Their screeches, a deafening sound.
You try your hardest to find the light,
But the darkness blocks your sight.
You feel weak, like you are dying –
You pray to God, and hope he hears.
Will he send a saviour here?
Years of fighting for your way,
Lot’s of set backs everyday.
You look within, and start to cling,
To what is left of who you are.
It’s time to rise,
Out of the darkness of your life.
You hear a voice, an angel calling.
Run towards it, without falling.
Quick, it’s over there.
Can you see it, oh yes you can.
It’s a light and it’s bright,
Like a candle in the night.
You are here, you are free,
God did send for thee.
Trapped in the shadows no more,
Now home, where you’ve always belonged.
I wrote this poem in 2009 about the
challenges of working through
my drug addiction.
It's one of the hardest challenges of my
life, but one I'm proud to say I've fought
hard to overcome.
Emerging through any type of darkness
is an arduous task,
but one we must never
stop striving for.
Thanks for reading.
It’s a common reaction to assume someone is a ‘drop kick’ if they are behaving badly or behaving in a self destructive manner. It’s the surface appearance, what the eye can easily see.
Many stop at the surface, the ‘drop kick’ is assessed, judged, condemned and then written off, based purely on the action. But, in every circumstance lies the reason behind the behaviour – there is always the depth of the unseen events that amount to the catalyst for bad/self destructive behaviour.
People often confuse ‘understanding’ with making ‘excuses’ for the behaviour: the two are entirely different.
It is always important to understand the reason behind someone’s behaviour because it helps us to make an informed judgement – it allows us to decipher whether that person needs a helping hand, some compassion or perhaps a swift kick up the backside…
More often than not a person behaving badly is in a lot of unprocessed emotional pain. They are usually completely unaware of these deep seated issues, or have no idea how to overcome them.
Writing such people off at a surface level, prevents an opportunity to perhaps help or guide them to the appropriate help. A person in that much pain is crying out for help (whether consciously or subconsciously).
Sometimes all it takes for someone to turn their life around, is knowing that someone cares enough to believe in them as a worthy human being. This level of understanding may just save someone from taking their own life.
Emotional pain and the behavioural after effects is more frequent than most of us realise. Please remember to make a conscious effort to understand the ‘reason’ before making a conclusive judgment. A bit of kindness really can go a long way in helping someone else to have a brighter day.
Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter?
P.s Don’t forget to hit the follow button before you leave.