BREAK THE HABIT OF SUFFERING
Photographer: Hanne Paludan Kristensen
This blog post was originally written on November 8th 2015
To experience feelings of agony, abandonment, pain and sadness can become so habitual that they can, in fact make you feel more secure than feelings of joy, love and happiness...
Although a somewhat absurd headline, I will attempt to explain what this statement covers below.
First of all, I need to confess something; I still haven´t succeeded in implementing the meditational sessions into my daily routine and this in spite of me just having attended a class today.
As you may well remember from my last entry I was planning on shopping for an alarm clock – for more information on this please read: Tiny moments of pure bliss.
However, I wasn´t able to go shop immediately after having written the entry on account of the shops being closed then so that seemed out of the question.
I made a promise to myself that I would go the next day for sure but something else came up then so I didn’t get around to it that day either.
In fact several days past before I managed to go buy that bloody alarm clock but it has finally been brought into my house. And it has even been put into service.
So has the phone been kicked out of the bedroom yet then?
Which was kind of the entire idea by getting the alarm clock in the first place you know.
The very first night the phone was actually removed from my bedroom but it sort of managed to wiggle its way back in the following days in spite of the fact that I was now unable to use the alarm clock excuse.
Then what seems to be my problem?
Why on earth don’t I merely remove that phone from my bedroom altogether and get started on implementing the morning meditations into my daily routine? (If I keep my phone in the bedroom I tend to feel the need to constantly check it which is why it must go).
I do not know...
I simply do not know...
Or rather….I do kind of know….sort of…...
If I have to be completely honest...
And I do have to don’t I?
You see I believe it might be the same insane mechanism as when I had to do these mirror exercises in the past where I had to tell myself nice things about myself and my body. (To read more on this please see: Tiny moments of pure bliss) If you have already read this you might remember how I convinced myself that I didn´t have time for this exercise “just” today and kept telling myself that I would do it tomorrow…Or on Monday….Or next weekend….
This same mechanism seems to prevent me from working on changing a lousy day into a better one simply because I, subconsciously, of course, convince myself that I am unable to.
Let me give you an example:
One of the things in life most capable of afflicting our moods a great deal is music.
With certainty, you too have experienced how music can expand a feeling in you.
This is in no way odd at all because much music has been created while the artist was, in fact, experiencing a certain feeling in the first place.
Much music and lyrics have been produced at times when the artist was in an unhappy state of mind as is also the case with this blog, countless books and loads of movies.
Therefore most lyrics, novels, blogs and movies revolve around themes of love, lack thereof, losing the one you love the highest, relentless betrayal and suffering and every one of us understand this pain and thus lets us relate to the artist, writer or actor in the movie.
I am certain you have tried listening to sad and gloomy music when feeling down. Maybe this especially applies to women.
Am I right in this assumption?
So instead of putting on some up-beat, ”happy” music you sit around listening to songs about terrible, heart-breaking love stories while you dwell in your own misery and wrap yourself into the endless role of being a victim.
I think that Adele – yes the famous pop singer – hardly does anything else. At least she says so herself, more or less in all her songs.
I do not doubt for a second that much of her pain is real and I suspect her to be a rather unhappy person deep down and that this might be the reason why people are so moved by her music.
Oh well, I am not trying to provide a full psychoanalysis of Adele.
Back on track we go.
I was attempting to provide you with an example of a mechanism and my point was simply this: When you “refuse” to do things which may be good for you such as putting on music that may lift your mood and you claim that you are ”not in the mood” to put on some ”happy” music it is basically on account of your own resistance.
When I used to postpone my mirror exercises it was due to my own resistance as it is now my own resistance keeping me from implementing merely 15 minutes of meditation every morning. 15 minutes that is supposed to help me feel better about myself and find inner peace and balance in my life.
So when it is supposed to do me a world of good why do I resist it so?
I will tell you: Because it is something unfamiliar...
The unknown will leave you with an unpleasant feeling in your entire body.
It isn´t the kind of ”directly pain” such as a headache or abdominal pains. No, it is more like one of those I-think-I-will-do-this-another-day feeling.
It is called resistance.
Your body is trying to tell you that it doesn´t enjoy this. It doesn´t feel nice, safe or familiar. Or it may seem just a tad too weird. Or awkward. Or demanding.
As a species, we thrive in doing what we always do. Everything new is “terrifying” and “dangerous” which is the reason your body and your emotions seem to work against you.
The feelings your body provides you with are attempting to convince you to think:
"I’ll do it another day".
"I’m not in the mood to listen to ”happy” music.
"I simply do not have the energy or the time to work-out on a regular basis. "
"Keeping up a healthy diet is difficult when you are as busy as me".
"It is hopeless to find a boyfriend when you are past age 25".
.... Feel free to add to this list.
But let me let you in on a little secret: What you resist persists…..
What that means is this: If you are miserable and resist becoming content your misery will persist. This even applies although you do actually wish to become happy.
So if I really wish to learn how to meditate but keep resist getting started, well then I will never succeed in learning. This means you need to quit making silly excuses not to get something done.
For now, I use the excuse that I am unable to reach the floor with my feet when sitting on my bed and since this won´t do I need a stool for my feet or to sit in a chair instead...
So how do you learn how to recognize this resistance?
Well, it does show itself in many ways such as the short list above containing “acceptable excuses”. You know the kind you tell yourself in order to get out of something and thereby limiting yourself refusing to do something beneficial for yourself by constantly focusing on the downsides of something.
If you constantly tell yourself: "I´ll never be able to complete a 5 km run on these bad knees", well then you will never be able to complete a 5 km run on those bad knees.
Your knees will most likely remain in a poor state because you resist noticing – and uttering out loud – all the things you are actually capable of doing by habitually referring to the knees as “bad”.
Perhaps a somewhat provocative statement and for some so far out there, but please trust me on this: If you do work actively on not resisting so much, miracles will happen.
I have experienced this in my own life a couple of times, some very recently. I will tell you more on this in my next entry.
Muahahahahhaaaaaaaaa, cliff hanger!
Photographer: Cliffhanger The Movie
But please believe me when I say that I know this kind of resistance all too well since it has been a “faithful” companion of mine my entire life. How absurdly it may seem it has been easier for me to suffer than to be content...
Earlier on I have pushed away people who loved me all the way to the moon and back again. One boyfriend, I had when I was in my early twenties still stands out. Handsome as a dream and the sweetest boy that ever was. A good man through and through and what was even more amazing was the fact that he loved me unconditionally.
I began to push him away from me by focusing on his shortcomings but since it was nearly impossible to find any I ended up focusing on obscure things such as the way he ate his yoghurt.
...The way he ate his yoghurt….
Of course, I didn´t share my concerns with him or even uttered them out loud. It was merely in my own mind but I spent much energy on this. How twisted that was…
As time went by the level of my insane ideas of what “was wrong with him” increased to the extent that I was barely able to even look at him and just the thought of us having sex disgusted me.
Horrible. For him yes, but also for myself....
I am convinced that his friends and family didn´t find me deserving of him. I probably didn´t deserve him and did in fact also succeed in pushing him out of my life, against his will. After this, I spent several years regretting it all and being sad. Twisted really. Utterly twisted...
It was as if I wanted to feel lousy... I wanted to be abandoned....I sought out the pain, the suffering and being sad because it was the feelings I knew best...
Same story repeated with the boyfriend I was with from age 27 to 30. Sweet, sweet guy, hot like a dream and completely smitten with me. He would have gone to fetch a star for me had I asked him...
....But history repeated itself again.
I just couldn´t...
I pushed him away by focusing on his ”many flaws and shortcomings” to the extent that I couldn´t stand being around him any longer...
Once again I longed for – unconsciously of course – feelings of betrayal, sorrow and sadness all because I wasn´t able to cope with all the love I received.
I didn´t know how to be content...
It was unfamiliar to me.
If he wouldn´t let me down and leave me as a result of the poor way I treated him I would find a way to leave him instead it seemed.
I left him...
I betrayed him...
After having broken it off I spent no less than 10 years being sad that this break-up had happened even though it was me who initiated the break-up in the first place...
10 years being single. A single woman who constantly focused on all the negative aspects such as how all the good men were taken, that there was nowhere to meet someone and how ”wrong” everyone I met was etc.
All the while I spent my time dwelling in bitterness because my relationship had recently ended. No matter the fact that I had been the one to ”pull the plug” or even that I was the one overwhelmed by all his ”flaws”.
Huge dilemma. I wanted him and yet I didn´t want him anyway...
No wonder 10 years past….
But then I changed the focus to myself, to feeling good. I began traveling on my own, go to summer camps at Oure (Danish sports camp), doing Crossfit, wakeboarding, making new friends and this is when things really started to happen. All of a sudden it wasn´t that difficult to meet eligible men anymore.
But obviously, I haven´t been ”completely ready” after all because, as you know, it has gone wrong once again.
The story, this time, is not exactly alike, however, but parts of it do resemble the other two relationships. This time, I was not the one to end it although I certainly contributed.
Today I was chatting about this resistance phenomenon with a friend and we talked about the way resistance basically limits us from accepting love or feeling content.
She told me how she had once begun writing a gratitude journal in an attempt to improve her own perception of herself. It had escalated and she had improved significantly in finding all sorts of minor areas for which she was thankful and happy. Although she initially only had to write down three things a day all of a sudden she was able to find up to 12-15 things for which she was thankful.
It did wonders for her.
Something changed in her, she said.
Strangers – men – started to greet her in the street and she received extraordinarily amounts of positive attention. She wasn´t prepared for this and didn´t know how to deal with this change.
So she stopped doing the journal!
How crazy is that!?
What a shame right..???!
Can you believe that it is possible to resist happiness so much?
Well, it is!
If the ”programming” you received as a child includes high levels of suffering, pain, sadness, betrayal, bullying, feelings of abandonment etc. those feelings will remain secure feelings for you as an adult.
Rather absurd right?
If you have always been told that you were unattractive, unintelligent, didn´t matter, rude, unwanted, unloved, unworthy etc. this is your reality and you may find it difficult to accept other realities or compliments.
Let me provide you with another example: Do you recognize this reaction to the following statement: "Oh how I adore the dress you are wearing" and she replies: "Ooooh but this is merely from H & M". Or if you tell someone: "Wow you really look amazing today" and she replies: "Nooo I look so tired. Take a look at these huge bags under my eyes"??
I certainly recognise this kind of person.
I used to be her.
The girl who tends to talk herself down.
The one who won´t find herself worthy of love.
The one who doesn't believe that she deserves to be complimented.
Parts of me might still be her but I am working hard to make her a thing of the past...
You can choose your own thoughts so choose them wisely especially the ones concerning yourself.
And now; Get your ass in front of that mirror!
When I can do it, you certainly can as well.
To love is a choice as well so please try to see the good qualities in your partner instead of focusing on his/her flaws.