Spiritual ALCHEMY: Turn Suffering into Gold
"From the mud of adversity grows the Lotus of joy." ~Carolyn Marsden
Have you ever wondered "why me?"
Don't worry, we all have. Even the most spiritually insightful people have at one time or another found themselves in the dreaded victim mode that we all know and hate! That's because adversity, or life's challenges and misfortunes impact us all. Nobody is immune to it, it's an unfortunate reality in many lives...or IS it really so unfortunate?
We have all heard the phrase What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and as cliche as it sounds, there is actually very much truth in it. The most excruciating times are the ones that carry the most monumental life lessons, and shape us into a different person than we were before. We usually don't see this at the time we are experiencing it, and it is after the fact that we can (and should) look back and realize exactly what the experience taught us.
So the million dollar question is, how do we turn suffering into something beneficial? For some of you this concept could seem totally foreign, or even offensive ( I hope not the latter, out of respect for your suffering). I know this firsthand because like everyone else I have had my own share of adversity. And I also know that during my darkest times I sure hated to hear that "everything happens for a reason." Yuck! But again, it has been after the fact that I have chosen to learn great life lessons from my suffering. The key word here is: chosen!
Though we cannot always control certain life situations, such as death, illness, trauma etc., we can most definitely choose how we react and respond.
I personally was in a very unhealthy and emotionally abusive relationship for eight years. At the time I did not feel I had any other choice but to continue with the situation, mostly because of financial reasons. It was a very difficult and dark time for me that made me feel helpless and destroyed my self esteem. During this time I also lost both my parents ( I was extremely close to my mother), my dog, who was my joy in life, and was recovering from a 17 year opioid addiction and an undiagnosed mental illness! This all left me asking.... you guessed it, why me! I have always been an ambitious, headstrong, independent person. Unfortunately however, I made some bad decisions that in turn, led to bad situations! I certainly never dreamed my life would end up a trainwreck and of course I beat myself up over the majority of it. However, when I did finally find the strength (that was always there, hiding within my self sabotaging behavior) to leave the relationship, get sober, and seek grief and mental health counseling, I began to see the suffering for what it was, a LESSON. And it changed me.
But here again is the word choice..I made the conscious choice to change, AND I made the conscious choice to LEARN from these painful experiences. Instead of falling further into the self loathing victim mentally and becoming jaded and resentful, I choose to look at this horrible period in my life as a tremendous lesson. This choice led to my personal spiritual awakening and at 49 years of age, a new life path. One that was in the making ALL of my life, but had just gotten sidetracked along the way.
So, back to the question of How do I turn excruciating times into a golden opportunity for self growth, enlightenment and personal success?
First and foremost it is imperative that you CHOOSE to recognize the lesson in the experience. You must use your intuition here, because it's really hard to think objectively about our own painful experiences. But as I always say, our spiritual self KNOWS ! It knows everything. All the answers to our personal life problems and obstacles lie within us. We don't need to learn anything, except how to access these answers. This can be achieved by inner or shadow work, practicing mindfulness or seeking spiritual counseling. Then, once you see the lesson, embrace it, and be grateful for it. Again, it may sound very hard to do but it is the KEY to learning.
So the second step is, as stated above to embrace the experience for what it is. This does not mean by any means that you must excuse or forgive bad behavior of an abuser, or forget about your loved one who passed away. It simply means putting the ego aside long enough to realize that YOU have grown, YOU are stronger and YOU can survive!
Embracing it also goes hand in hand with gratitude! Be grateful for the chance to learn and become stronger. "The school of hard knocks" (another cliche!) is the best teacher! It's just a fact that life is tough! Nobody, besides a fairytale Princess EVER said it was fair, or that we as physical beings were promised anything! But what is promised is that YOU will be surprised at how resilient YOU are. You may even find that you surprise yourself at what you are actually made of. I know I was surprised at the discovery of my own personal inner strength!
Next, own YOUR part in your suffering. Please note, this is a touchy subject, because I know that in certain cases we are victims of trauma or death or illness that we certainly did not choose or play a part in. But on the rare occasions that we did play a part ( I did, by making irresponsible life choices!) We must own it and NOT play the blame game. This takes an incredible amount of humbling and soul searching to realize, but again is a very important step in healing and growing spiritually. Living in victim mode by blaming the partner, spouse, sibling, parent or whoever will lead you to even more heartache. Even if you have to say to yourself, "I was a victim of CIRCUMSTANCE ONLY, but I will survive and I will move on"...you must do it! You must do it for the sake of your own PEACE. Because living in the past, which is what victim mode ultimately leads to, will destroy that peace, and keep you chained there, in the past. And that my friends, is a bad place to reside.
Another thing I would love to add, which is very crucial: NEVER, EVER be ashamed of your past! Being at a place in your spiritual development to understand this and live it may take time. But for me personally it has been a tremendous game changer and huge step in moving forward. We are all human, and we either make mistakes or we become victims of other people's mistakes, or both. Either way, this is part of what shapes us into who we are! It is part of our story, AND our journey. Sometimes sharing your experiences is a vital part of getting to that place of not being ashamed or embarrassed, because it helps others. Or, if you are not ready yet for that step, just reprogramming our own self loathing thoughts and behaviors will help. I highly recommend facing your demons head on! Don't use escapism, denial or any other form of avoidance. Not coming to terms with your suffering only leads to more suffering, it's a viscous cycle.
If you need professional help in dealing with your past, please don't be hesitant to seek it. Most of all don't give up! Don't think that your life has to be constant pain, regret or suffering because I'm here to tell you, from experience that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Yes, more cliches, but I give you my word... this time it's NOT a fairytale!
Be blessed, stay strong and persevere!~ Sandra-Elizabeth Hood Owner Indigo Dove Metaphysical Shop llc, Certified Crystal Medicine Therapist and Certified Reiki Practitioner
Please consider sharing your own personal experience to help others or yourself! Thank you for your interest!