The Search for Meaning
I was recently talking to a mom who miscarried at about five weeks along in her pregnancy. She was sad and hurting, and my heart hurt with her. As we were discussing her feelings, she looked down at the ground and said, "I just keep asking 'Why?'"
This question is probably familiar to you. We all hurt and we all feel deep disappointment. It's part of being alive, and none of us escapes it. No matter what the circumstances are that bring about these feelings, we tend to have some similarities in our reactions to them. When we hurt, we all look for a way to feel better, and we all search for the meaning.
I describe this process in my classes and with my clients in the following way:
As you move through your life, you continually figure out who and how you are, how the world is, and what you can reasonably expect as you live in your particular set of circumstances. It's like all of your puzzle pieces are in place when you understand, generally, how things go in your world. Your mind really likes to understand these things.
When something traumatic happens, it's like your puzzle pieces get thrown in the air. As you put them back in place, an interesting thing happens. You have to decide what this event means about you, and what it means about the world. And sometimes, you make new rules to navigate this new information.
It's an interesting process to observe, if you can get the distance from it to become an observer. Your mind shifts through different scenarios about you and the world around you, the people in your life, your rules for navigating everything. You might feel embarrassed, and then angry at someone else, and then in the dark of the night cry because you're worried that this is truly proof that you're worthless. You may find God or give up on the universe as a benevolent place. You may decide to leave your job, or to give up on that dream or that person. What does the event mean about you? What does it mean about the world?
What we decide -- our perception -- is our reality.
The nice thing about understanding this system is that you can, with a little distance, kindly and purposefully guide this process. You can decide things that are in line with who you truly are, and how you want the world to be. When that part of you is casting around for meaning, do you want to make decisions out of fear? Or do you want to make decisions from a place of love? Do you want to beat yourself up more, or offer up kindness and understanding to that scared little person inside of you? What would you tell a child, a loved and cherished friend in the same situation? Give that to yourself. Think about your priorities, and find your way using them as your guide.
It's almost like being a great parent to yourself. You really can give yourself exactly what you need.
I hope as this mom searches for her meaning, she can find her strength and self-love renewed. It doesn't have to mean the scary thing. It doesn't have to have a reason that makes it hurt more. I hope she can remember that she is a good person who deserves to be happy, and that she feels loved and held by a vast, kind universe. I hope she remembers that she is still the same amazing person she was before the hard thing happened, and that she always finds her way. There is growth and beauty in hardship, alongside the pain, tangled up in it. It can have a meaning that enriches her life, and she can guide that process.
You might also find that it's important to have witnesses for your story, who listen well and don't try to fix it for you or tell you how to feel. Remember, too that when the time is right, after you listen and acknowledge, you can help others who are hurting to see more clearly as well... your loved ones and (this is huge!) your children. What an empowering way to guide children -- so that they can decide more kind and loving ways to view the world and themselves. They might decide something that they carry forever... and that can be a very good thing.
To your empowered and wise perceptions,
Keep it going.
For some great tips on your journey to do good things for yourself, check out Deepak Chopra's website for daily inspiration here.
Laura and Shelley
Co-founders of Blissborn Natural Birth Programs