No one likes going through the hard times in life. I have been fortunate to have periods of time when things just plodded along, I was not in discomfort because everything around me was relatively comfortable, functioning and safe. Work, relationships, friends, everything just turned like well-oiled gears. As easy as those times are, they are not our teachers.
It’s the times of struggle, pain and sorrow, those when we lose someone, when we have to navigate our way through the end of a long relationship, where we’re left feeling like a failure. These times can make you bitter, angry, regretful. Sorrow can become consuming and it can feel like life isn’t worth the hassle. Is this it? A life of painful events every few years? An easier option would be to tap out, but again, it’s not the learning option.
I’ve been talking to myself a lot about this, a kind of self counsel to work through better ways to understand, accept and deal with some difficult life challenges of the last year or so. I keep telling myself to be the sponge, to soak up the reality of my life situation. All the pain, and the sadness, just soak it up, learn from it and move on because there isn’t such a thing as clawing oneself back to a better place, there is just moving on and coping with life as it presents itself everyday.
I am in no way a perfect person, I’m not a high achiever, I don’t have career goals or ambitions of wealth, none of that interests me. I do however want to keep learning, I want to observe and interpret the world around me, and to share. I want to be a better version of myself, and to do that I’ve learned to be open minded and accepting of my own flaws, to embrace them, to learn from them, and to try alter them.
Admittedly, at times I have had a lot of anger in my heart. It’s an easy place to go when dealing with pain, it takes the focus off yourself, but serves no purpose. Anger just attracts more anger, it encourages bitterness and hate. It doesn’t make anyone feel any better about any situation. Wars and battles don’t end because people got more angry at each other, they end because one side always gets destroyed in some capacity. But there is no true winner, just more pain for everyone that’s left standing.
I don’t even think forgiveness is a thing for me. I’m more focussed on just accepting, just looking at the good things that have passed, accepting the darker things, accepting that it’s all part of life.
This process of acceptance helps me with my feelings of regret about making bad life decisions, because really, they aren’t bad life decisions, they’re just decisions. We all make them, everyday. Some work out, some do not.
I wonder if this ability to accept is what is lacking in our culture. We seem to be coming less tolerant, more ready to pounce in anger when things don’t turn out the way we expect them too. I noticed this in Japan, where push bikes and walkers share footpaths. It’s busy in Tokyo and Kyoto, but not once in the two weeks I visited did I see an argument or ‘footpath rage’ because someone bumped into someone else, if anything I saw people apologise to each other. Yes, that’s Japanese culture, and I reckon it’s a good thing for us to learn from.
So I’m moving to another phase of a healing process. Acceptance with less adverse negative feelings. Sure the pain is still there, but processing it with an accepting heart is more fruitful than with a hateful heart.