When a person is in despair, few things are more alienating than being told that s/he is supposed to think positively. I cringe when I hear someone say, “Everything happens for a reason.” You know, maybe everything does happen for a reason, and maybe it’s all random, and maybe it’s some combination therein. That’s a question people have been grappling with from the beginning of time. The truth is, none of us will know for sure what happens after this until we exhale our last breath. No point arguing about it in my view.
Regardless, when a person is grieving, they do not want to hear that this knifing thing has happened for some reason they’ll understand someday. If you lose a child, for example, you’ll never understand that. That will never be OK. That will never go into the category of, “Thank you for this experience.”
If you’re physically or sexually abused (or any kind of abuse), that will never go into the “Thank you” category, either. And suggesting to people that they ought to be able to be positive and grateful in every moment lacks compassion and understanding. When you ask people to deny their experience, to push down their real, complicated, raw, and immediate feelings, you also ask them to cut themselves off from their own intuition. You’re plunging them into further darkness.
If you’re enraged, be enraged. Figure out why, of course, examine it, but allow yourself to feel your feelings. The same goes for grief, jealousy, fear, shame, guilt, doubt, and any other “shadow” emotion you’re likely to grapple with at some time or another. This is part of being human, this is how we learn and grow and open. Anything you repress, deny, or run from will own you. It will chase you down again and again and again.
Devastating heartbreak can close you or open you. When you allow it to open you, you become one of life’s more insightful people. You can be grateful for that. If you choose, you can use your experience to help other people going through the same kind of despair. You can be grateful for that. If you survive abuse, you can be thankful for your strength in choosing to unhook your journey from the violence that was perpetrated upon you.
If you’ve lost someone you’d give anything to hug, you can be grateful that you loved so deeply. Life is full of everything. Some of it will break your heart and bring you to your knees, and some of it will take your breath away with its beauty and fill your heart with yes, and thank you. In my view, being spiritual means you hold it all. You don’t deny your reality, you face it. And you work to keep your heart open. That’s a practice that’s available to everyone.
I wouldn’t try to chase happiness; I did that for years, it’s what we’re taught to do.
Be hungry for the truth of your own experience.
There’s a lot of peace and power in that.