Life is difficult and painful by its nature, not because your are doing something wrong!

Life and painful experience go together like heads and tails go together

All of us have experienced painful feelings and all of us who continue to live will go on to experience more painful experiences.  That is just so – it is simply what goes with being an exquisite sensory organism participating in the drama called life.  If I use the analogy of a coin then life and painful experiences go together like the two sides of a coin; you can’t have a coin with only one side.

How do, you and I, in our ordinary way of living interpret and deal with our painful experiences?

How outraged would you be if you turned up at a disco and found loud music and flashing lights?  Not at all, right?  Why?  Because you have the correct view, the correct understanding, of a disco.  What happens when we painful experiences arise?  How do we interpret them?  How do we deal with them?

If you are like me then you want the pleasant (good)feelings and do your best to avoid the painful (bad) feelings.  When the good feelings show up I want to hold on to them and not let them go – I / you want to be happy forever!  Do we take the same attitude when painful experiences show up?  No, we react, we struggle, we complain, we resist – we do our best to fix things and fix ourselves so that we can get it right the next time.

Isn’t it true that you, I, we, believe that there is a magic formula to get it right, to live a life of bliss?   Don’t we secretly believe that if we can just act right, then will never encounter painful experiences only pleasant experiences?  I’d say that is why self-help books sell in the millions and self-help gurus are wealthy.

There is a magic formula and I share that with you for free

Do you want to give up all the struggle that goes with finding that magic formula and fixing yourself?  Would you rather have some ease, peace and grace in your living?  Then here is the formula:

  • Get that our painful experiences do not represent a flaw in us;
  • Get that life is painful and difficult by its nature, not because you are doing it wrong;
  • Accept, be with your painful experiences rather then resisting them – when you accept rather than resist you are present to the pain and let go of all the suffering you heap onto the pain and that is much lighter load to carry.

A personal experience

Conflict occurs as a painful experience for me – one of the most painful.  You’d understand that if you had the kind of growing up experience that I had.  So when conflict shows up I either dive into fixing the situation and/or flee so that I do not have to see it, hear it, experience it.  Guess what shows up when you are member of a family of five people. you have deliberately bought up your kids to think for themselves and stand up for themselves; and each of the members of the family have different interests / characters and temperaments?  Conflict.

What did I do about it?  I tried my best to fix it.  For example, the kids fought over the one home computer so I bought another one.  They fought over these two, so I bought another one – today each of us our own computer.  Did that stop the conflict?  No.  They started fighting about printers?  So I thought I am to blame because they have to share a printer. So now each of the kids has their own printer.  Did that stop the conflict?  No.

Then one day I got it:  conflict goes with family (and relationships) like loud music and flashing lights go with disco.  That allowed me to let go of the position “It is all down to me, I brought the kids up badly, I am a bad father!”  When I got that I stopped fixing things / people.  Two things happened:  the burden that I was carrying fell off and the kids got better at resolving their conflicts!

Question for you?

Are you willing to embrace life fully from the stand that painful experiences are just that painful experiences?  They do not in any way indicate that you are ‘bad’, that you are flawed or that you are doing the wrong things.  Are you wiling to accept that painful experiences are sign that you participating in the game called life.  Are you willing to extend the same to our fellow human beings?

Author: Maz Iqbal

Experienced management consultant working at the intersection of strategy, customer, and technology. Combine a tendency to think strategically with a penchant for getting my hands dirty at the coalface of implementation.

5 thoughts on “Life is difficult and painful by its nature, not because your are doing something wrong!”

  1. Maz,
    Sometimes I find it uncanny on how much I relate to your posts. I had lived a great part of my life avoiding conflict by being ‘patient’ and ‘tolerant’. My family and friends saw me as the most patient and tolerant person in the world.

    It took a major personal catastrophe to make me realize that what everyone and I had thought as being ‘patient’ and ‘tolerant’ was actually me wanting to avoid conflict. Avoiding conflicts, cost me my 14 year old marriage.

    A hard lesson to learn indeed, but yes I am better at accepting life as it is. To live life in the present, not in yesterday or tomorrow or what ifs.

    To appreciate and be brave to face the conflict, to do what I fear to do. Realizing now, that when I do face the conflict or do the things I fear, I usually find that it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had thought it to be.

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  2. Dearest Azilenna

    I acknowledge that it takes courage to share your life as you have shared here. And I thank you for your sharing and the opportunity it creates to enter into a conversation.

    Yes, it does seem that you and I are so alike, it occurs to me that you and I are fruits of the same tree. I suffered for over 10 years because I was not willing to be truthful to myself and then speak my truth with my wife and children. Like you I also encountered a hard lesson. My wife was telling me that I was depressed and I did not believe her. Then over Christmas 2011 I did what I used to do before I got married: I spent Christmas meditating, being present with ‘myself’. What occured? Tears just poured out of me. Why? I got that I had been ‘playing small’ and particularly, I got present to the impact tha had been having on me, my wife, my three children and our lives. Seems that you arrived at the same place.

    Now that you and I have both seen the light, we have the opportunity to create ourselves as the authors of our lives. And what goes with that is our relationships. We have the opportunity to recreate our relationships and in that process we will be faced with conflict. It occurs to me that you and I are, now, in a place where we have what we need to be with that conflict and do what needs to be done.

    I suspect this is an issue that will come up again and again. Just the other day I was talking with my wife and saying “I really struggle with finding a balance with letting people be, not interfering, not dominating, not controlling and at the same time getting what I need – setting boundaries. Any ideas?”

    I wish to finish how I started: I thank you for sharing and by doing so being vulnerable and entering into a conversation with me. I am grateful that you exist – your existence makes a contribution to my existence. Please reach out to me if I can be of service.

    With my love
    Maz

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  3. Maz,
    The most powerful change I learned, was the lesson that people need to want to be changed, to learn to let go of their past and to move on. Striking that balance, I believe, lies in free will.

    As much as we want to help others, they must first want to be helped. They must take the first step towards achieving, changing, learning – they must come to you.

    The greatest analogy in which I had shared with my father, when he was disappointed in my daughter, for choosing to live with her father instead of me is this.

    “When I was carrying her in my womb for 9 months, when she needed me to live, is one and an integral part of me, yet I could not control her thoughts, her movements, her feelings. If she so chose to be in a position that hurt me, till tears run from my eyes, I could only plead her and stroke her gently to move. She had her own free will even then and only move when she wanted to.

    How can I control her or tell her what to do, think or feel when she is an individual of her own now?

    As a parent, I can only guide her, love her unconditionally and be there for her when she needs me.

    I need to let her make her own mistakes for her to grow and be the unique person she is, through her own life experience and choices – not mine.”

    She was 12 at that time and after 2 years of living with her Dad and Step-Mom, has since a year ago, returned to live with me and we are closer than I could have ever imagined us to be. We are the best of friends and I am grateful.

    I struggle between telling (domineering, controlling) and eliciting (guiding, self-realization) and knowing when to use which.

    I believe that when the student is ready the teacher will appear – the student has to be ready AND take the first step – will then be when the right balance can be struck.

    Does that makes any sense?

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  4. Hello Azilenna

    Your speaking makes perfect sense and I thank you for allowing me into your life. Your speaking get me present to our addiction (part of our culture) to finding answers, recipes and solutions to take the messiness out of life and make it safe. That is fool’s errand. Why?

    Examine life and you will find that life is an arena that we are thrown in and which continues to spring one surprise after another. Our role in that arena is to play full out in embracing and living with the surprises that life throws up.

    Life is not a puzzle to be solved. It is not like you solve the puzzle, put your feet up and then everything works to your satisfaction and your are happy ever after. We are not built that way. When that kind of life shows up we end up feeling bored – the challenge, the surprise, has got out of life. Then we turn to drink, drugs, sex, food – whatever works, whatever takes the boredom away. No, life is not a puzzle to be solved, It is an ever changing game that keeps us on our toes, provides us with pleasure and pain, and provides us with continuous challenges that keep is enthralled until someone calls time out. How to be with that? Grateful!

    As for the student and the teacher, I totally get where you are coming from. I shared that moment for me in the following post:

    https://maziqbal.net/2011/12/23/the-real-poverty-in-life-is-playing-small-and-i-have-been-playing-small-for-quite-some-time-no-longer/

    With my love
    Maz

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