Linda: People fear having crises befall them and they go to extraordinary lengths to keep them form ever occurring. But no matter how hard we try, not matter how carefully we plan, no matter how much money we have saved in the bank, and no matter how hard we try to be good and follow the rules, if we just live long enough some crisis will be fall us. It could take the form of a health crisis such as an accident, illness, a loss such as a death, divorce or loss of an important friendship. It could be a financial loss on a bad investment, or a professional crisis like losing our job or finding that we don’t even like our work any longer. Perhaps one of our children is going through a dark time in their life, and by virtue of loving and caring for them, we are dragged into their crisis. Or it may be a relationship crisis, where our differing needs, styles, areas of sensitivity, or values come into conflict, creating a severe struggle and rob of us our well-being.
There will be plenty of unpleasant, unwanted feelings no matter what type of crisis it is. These challenging times arrive uninvited and we want to be rid of them as soon as possible because the feelings are so raw and intense. But if we rush through the crisis, we have lost a most extraordinary opportunity for growth and learning. For it is only when our life is shattered, and all the pieces lying around in disarray that we have such an extraordinary opportunity to rearrange them in a way that may better suit us.
We would never voluntarily give up the comfort and security of our well-organized life. But when a catastrophe this hits us like a death, divorce, life-threatening illness, being downsized out of our job, we have no choice. Life deals its blow and we are brought to our knees temporarily rendered helpless. Humbled by the enormity of the crisis and opened up in a way that our normal way of being does not allow, we are available for are assessing our life from a very different vantage point. The opportunity is present for a rapid and steep learning curve.
It is the pain of the trauma that is the motivation for learning. There is no stronger motivation to do things differently than suffering. In our distress, we find some of us will to look at our life differently and to reassess what is really important to us. Often when people experience crises, they are permanently changed for the better. A long as we have to endure these assaults from life periodically, we might as well learn to make some meaning from the suffering.
Asking the right questions is a key component to utilizing the extraordinary opportunity embedded in the crisis. Questions such as, “What am I to be learning here? Did I contribute in any way to this crisis occurring? Who will support me during my time of need? What is really important to me? Living in these questions as much as possible in the midst of the transition gives us clues and indicators of what can come alive in the next section of our life journey. Rather than being ground down by the trauma, the potential is there to come through wiser than before. Rather than disillusioned, we can become more resilient, more courageous, more humble, aware of our vulnerability and need of others support, clearer about what is really important to us, and more compassionate regarding the suffering of others.
Of course, the joyful moments shape us too. The love we receive from others, the play, ecstatic experiences, the gentleness and peace that we so enjoy are all part of who we are. But so are the traumas. We can’t avoid them, no matter how hard we may try, so our only recourse is to attempt to open to them as much as possible, and instead of dread and hatred, to bring our attitude of childlike wonder and curiosity to see “What is her for me to learn?” We can come through a much bigger person more whole, less fearful and more open to whatever life has in store for us next.