I’ve heard that human beings must hear a new concept seven different ways, from seven different people, before they can adopt it. I’d say that’s a pretty good average. Sometimes I’ll take on a new one at first brush. Other times, it takes far more than seven for me to understand.
I hired my first counselor twenty years ago. One concept she introduced me to is that nothing, and therefore no one, is all good or bad. I argued this with her. I was certain that I knew people who were pure evil! By the same token, I was certain some people in my life were incapable of doing any wrong. Of course, it’s harder to stand on a pedestal than in a pit, so as soon as one of those “perfect” ones would prove they weren’t, I would take away their pedestal and disown them.
I was hardheaded and judgmental, and completely oblivious to that fact. I wasn’t trying to be mean. I honestly thought I was being realistic. In a very painful way, I was quite fair about it; I used that same judgment on myself. Since I knew my flaws, I knew I belonged in the pit. You can imagine how I treated myself, and allowed others to treat me.
It’s been nearly ten years since a client said, “There are twenty ways to do anything; five of them are right. Pick one of the five and do it.” More than one way could be right? I had a headache for two weeks until I could wrap my brain and heart around the idea.
Several years ago, I told a favorite college prof that I understand pain is a part of life, but I needed the pain to have a purpose; if it could help one other person, then it would all be worth it.
A few years ago, a dear soul spent over a year telling me that I can’t possibly do it wrong, and then drifted out of my life when I finally understood.
The past few weeks, I have been inundated with messages that what we call failure is part of the process of learning, and is meant to be embraced.
Last night, I was perusing The Art of Happiness. In the book, the Dalai Lama shares his belief that suffering is a part of life, and acceptance of suffering is a key to happiness. That particular belief was not sitting well with me. Experience has taught me that when I am particularly resistant to something, there is value in exploring the topic.
I had not even gotten out of bed this morning when it fell into place.
Without all the awful things that happened during my childhood, I wouldn’t have had a reason to develop the sensitivities that I use to help others and ease my navigation through life. Without the myriad distressing and dangerous life experiences, I wouldn’t be able to relate to so much of what others are going through. Without the failures in relationships, business, and other areas of life, I would not have such clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Nothing happened “wrong;” it simply happened.
It’s a basic shift in perspective. In releasing the need to “make wrong,” the resentment, frustration, and anger, I find myself able to clearly see the purpose in everything that has happened in my life.
When I release the thought that something is “wrong,” I also release the need to change it. I can simply observe it, learn what I need from it, and move on. I find beauty in knowing that I now use new tools to deal with those old patterns.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” ~ Rumi