Clients come into my psychotherapy practice having experienced significant loss in one form or another.
Some have lost a job, some have lost a loved one and some have lost a dream.
Loss on this scale often results in a breakdown because something has failed to work in the way it was intended. It is a shift from what was known into the unknown, and typically we do not deal with the unknown or change particularly well.
It brings up fear, it brings up doubt and it challenges our relative safety in the world.
As people begin the work of healing, they are looking for relief from the struggle. However, they may not know that the struggle holds the possibility for a transformative experience.
Here’s the deal: Not everyone gets their transformative moment.
In my personal and professional work, I have found that there are three reasons why people aren’t able to mine the gold and get the message:
The first reason people miss their transformative moment is that they don’t have the emotional or spiritual intelligence to understand that life’s struggles are a series of opportunities for growth and change.
For these folks, life is black and white; we have ups, we have downs and that’s kind of how life goes. They simply don’t feel the need to understand themselves or their experiences beyond the surface level, and they tend to be resigned to their lot in life. These people will experience the karma of lessons unlearned—repeating the same mistakes and entering into the same often dysfunctional relationships.
The second reason people don’t find their transformative moment is that they are so mired in anger, frustration and pain that they fail to see the lesson woven into their conflict.
This can be a delicate subject because when “big T” trauma strikes, anger, frustration and pain are perfectly normal and natural responses. It is incumbent upon us to not only process our feelings, but then to hunt for the message we are being sent. If we stagnate in our pain, we miss the opportunity, sentencing ourselves to languish in our suffering—forever the victim of our experiences.
The third reason people fail to find their transformative moment is that they don’t like the message.
The lesson in any particular struggle might tell us something we don’t want to hear. It might say you have to get out of a relationship, or you have to go back to graduate school. It might tell you to quit your job at a very inopportune moment. If we choose to ignore the message, we risk getting caught in the cycle of lessons unlearned.
Here, the gold doesn’t always look like gold, but looks like a big, difficult decision that we don’t want to make. Just because we don’t like the message, doesn’t mean we aren’t being offered our transformative moment. Life, God, the universe or whatever your belief system calls it is asking you to dig down deep and find the intestinal fortitude to choose love of self over fear.
Clients ask me, “why am I still dealing with this issue?”
The answer is simple: We will struggle with a difficulty until we find the lesson. When we find it, we can open the door to transformation. The alchemy of healing includes breakdown, breakthrough and change.
The bad news is, if we don’t wake up to the moment, we will get stuck in the breakdown.
The good news? There is a veritable treasure trove of transformation and healing waiting for us in every difficult moment of our lives. We need only train our eyes and ears to recognize it.
As we learn to unearth our message and put it into practice, we find the courage and the wisdom to transcend our struggles and walk the path of our lives with grace.