Go Towards Your Pain to Relieve It

A family mourns during a funeral at the Lion's...

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Self-Care #197 – Go where your pain is to prepare for what happens badly in life.

Yesterday we talked about the power of loss, grief and pain not being one that can take away the potential of life.

Carl appreciated the idea that “scripted cue cards” with platitudes on them to read off for ourselves or for others when something bad happens – “Good comes out of bad,” “I know what you feel like,” and so on – is nothing anyone wants.  His comment included, in true Carl-style, a great question:

But what else can we say to show respectful empathy?

Goodness.  For crying out loud, we aren’t a bunch of calloused puff heads who don’t care or who don’t have a clue when someone is suffering!  We’ve all asked this question and wanted to help.  We’ve wanted to connect, to serve, to answer Carl’s question when we are in or come into the presence of pain.

In self-care, we can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves first.  We can’t give what we don’t have.  Airplane crashing, put your oxygen on before your babies.  Can’t withdraw if the bank account is empty….  We take care of ourselves and find that we can serve others more as a result.  It’s the same way in grief.  If we don’t go where our own pain is in life, if we aren’t present with our life journey, if we don’t fight hard for who we are, it is very hard to know how to answer this question.

There’s something to say about doing the work before the trouble comes and then when it comes, use it to prepare for more.  I love Ecclesiastes 12 which tells us in Solomon’s depressed and yet feisty words,

Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—

Solomon was talking about self-care here.  Holding us responsible at the elemental level to use the time we have before trouble comes, so that when it comes, we have a way of answering.

Carl gave his own answer,

…live life on life’s terms like it or not.  If we allow Jesus to embrace us and comfort us it will fortify us through life’s unfortunate tragedies.

Question:  What is your answer to Carl’s question?  Please tell me your story.

Pebbles to Diamonds

 

yourloosediamonds.com

Self-Care Tip #117 – Notice, you got diamonds out of stones!  Be a friend to yourself.

Cindy replied to yesterday’s post (that had some discussion on functional mental illness,) “I understand Miranda’s feelings completely.  Some days it’s all I can do not to down tools and scream ‘What about ME?’”

That is one of the lovelies that these illnesses bring to us.  In our honest moments, we can, like Cindy did, perceive our own traits that resemble them.  Perhaps, if we are lucky, that will lead to empathy, one of the great human experiences.  To be able to put yourself in the hypothetical place of someone else.  To imagine what they think and feel.  “If I were in your shoes…” and so forth.  If you’d like, read more on this at this post.

Illness is often considered a step in the dyeing process.  Others see it as part of the living process.  Of course, it is both.  We are all on level ground when it comes to having been born, coming into life, and knowing we will equally die.  Illness reminds us of our like-natured frailty and of course the opposite – resilience.  Whether seeing our own illness or someone else’s, we have this privilege of being blessed this way.

My Dad used to tell me a story (author unknown) when I was little.  It’s been a long time but I remember it this way.

Three travelers were walking when they heard a voice telling them to bend down, pick up pebbles and put them in their pockets.  The voice told them further that in the morning they would be both happy and sad.  The travelers did but not equally.  Some pockets were more full than others.  In the morning when they awoke, their stones had turned to diamonds.  Whoever gathered many stones were happy even though all of them wished they picked up more stones.  But whoever gathered few, well, they were not happy.  They still had diamonds but the comparison soured them and they finished their journey full of “what if” thoughts and not thoughts about the obvious.  They got diamonds out of stones!

We are all similar, with the opportunity to say thanks in seemingly off times, such as mental illness.

Question:  What have your “stones” turned into?  Please tell me your story.