The Buddha said “Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional”. When we are going through the painful emotions of divorce and other midlife messes, it seems almost impossible to believe that this is true. It can feel like our only option is to suffer the fear, anger, guilt, depression, sadness, and even rage that come along with the loss of our old life.
Release the energy through movement. I’ve found that walking, running and even stomping are great ways to get out of feeling trapped in pain. Dancing, singing at the top of our lungs to loud music helps too. Painful emotions are indicators of energy that needs to move through us, so that we can get the message to move on. The first step is releasing the buildup of pain in the body. Sometimes I would, and still do, go to a Yoga class to breathe deeply and let the sensations move through my body in the postures. Crying at the end of a Yoga class, being solitary out in the woods, or even watching sad movies to get the tears flowing is a great way to release the pain.
Tell a new story. After a while, our story of what has happened to us gets a little old. Have you noticed friends and family politely, or maybe abruptly, beginning to check out of the listening process? It’s inevitable that over time, even we get a little sick and tired of our our negative take on things. This is when we know it’s time to rewrite the story.
The first commitment you might make is to getting through a morning without talking about your pain. That may turn into 8 hours, then a day at a time. Just like a muscle, we have to retrain the brain to focus on what we want rather than what we don’t want.
Taking deep, mindful breaths to become present throughout the day will also help break the pain and suffering and old story cycle. It’s impossible to breathe deeply and be in the stress/suffering response at the same time (download my free ebook “No Mud, No Lotus~Tools for Transitions” for more on this process at ebook.kathrynmitchem.com).
Once we stop the habit of suffering, we can begin to tell a new story. When people ask us how we are doing, we can say things like “It’s been tough, but I’m getting stronger every day” or “I am learning so much about myself these days” and “I’m good. I’m grateful for _____(fill in the blank with something that IS working in your life, something however small that brings you a sense of joy and fulfillment)”.
Use the pain to get creative. When released, anger and other forms of emotional pain can be a great source of creative energy. You may feel inspired to write or paint or create a new business from the energy that once caused you to suffer. This is a wonderful opportunity to envision a new beginning (new career, healthy body, a fulfilling career or relationship) then use that creative energy to follow through on taking the steps to move forward. If you are dwelling in the past, the painful emotions will continue. The more we put our focus on what we DO want, rather than what we DON’T want, the sooner the pain will subside. Let the pain motivate you to take steps forward, and into a richer, more fulfilling and love-filled future in all areas. Because you deserve it!
Have faith in the process that this experience IS making you stronger. You can choose to be a victim to circumstance and stay stuck in the suffering, or use this experience of pain to grow and to launch you into your new life. Kahlil Gibran, the author of a classic spiritual book called “The Prophet” wrote “The deeper the sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?” When we can accept that the deeper our pain, not only the capacity for our own future joy is greater, but our sense of compassion for the suffering of others is greater. Our children, our friends, our planet all become gifted by our own inner journey from suffering to freedom.
Over time, the pain from divorce and other midlife messes will, and does, lessen. Time does heal, and the sooner we commit to take steps to stop choosing to suffer, the faster it will happen. If we can use this time for growing into the next phase rather than staying stuck in the pain of the past, we become the superheroes of our own lives, launching at rocket speed into a brighter, new reality.