Everyone experiences struggle in life.
It’s a fact. In small and big ways, life isn’t all roses. Tough circumstances happen to us, we let ourselves down, and even God created us with a wide range of emotions some of which are really hard but all equally meant to be felt. Hard is as valid as easy. Sadness as valid as happiness. Fear as much as confidence. Struggle as much as ease. They are all a part of being human.
I’ve heard the definition of suffering as “a pain + our resistance to it”. Think on that. There is a lot of truth to the idea that resisting our lives in anyway creates a more painful feeling. Struggle will happen, if we didn’t resist it, couldn’t it simply be an aspect of life that we could persevere with a sense of grace?
Hard feelings, sickness, challenging circumstances, heart break, fear, shame… they all do or will happen in life. This life is a mix of up and down. Life and death.
So if pain is a reality…then it must be OK. It’s normal. It’s being human.
Your fear, your shame, your hardship, your anxiety….all of it is ok. Not that you want to stay here, but your feeling the way you feel and experiencing the less than ideal is simply a healthy sign you’re human.
Yet this common resistance to much of the humanness of our lives creeps up all too commonly. Our minds run wild with stories like: “This shouldn’t be happening.” “This isn’t right” “Other people aren’t struggling like this/feeling like this/getting emotional like I do.” If that easily described you, don’t beat yourself up – social media and the culture’s set intention to “pursue happiness” is great at making us forget life isn’t meant to be hard.
You are not alone. Being human is ok.
Maybe it’s time remember this truth of life. And not just remember life isn’t all happiness, but expect it not to be. If we expect it… the compounding emotion of “this isn’t right” “I am not right” would ease our experience of it. If it happens to us all, we aren’t isolated, we aren’t alone, we are capable of living fully with all that is hard.
When you look at Jesus, he’s never shocked by everyone’s humanity including his own. It didn’t surprise him when he was poorly treated of when he experienced sadness, anger, and fear. It’s as if he expected it. He knew this life would be flawed and that made his heart full of tenderness and compassion.
It’s a very hard thing to be human.
Lately I’ve been intentionally practicing something called Self-Compassion. It’s a research proven practice of relating internally that acknowledges our shared humanity which “means you realize suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience…you honor and accept your humanness…after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?” Love that.
From the way it’s changing me and the reasearch I’ve read, I think this is a key to healing our tendency to resist parts of our life. And in my mind, self-compassion is the same principle Christ first taught us when he said the greatest commandments included loving your neighbor as yourself.
Signing up for self-compassion will not be a quick fix though. It will be a process. A process of changing long ingrained ways on operating internally. But I’ve chosen in this season to not be ashamed of the humanity in which I’m made. To love this live from inside out so I can live more alive, brave, less afraid and more lovingly toward others.
If you want to live in a way that allows you to be all of yourself, including the parts you previously or currently resisted, it will take work.
So, what is it in this season you realize you need permission to be, look like, experience or feel? What are you resisting? A circumstance? An emotion? A physical feature? A memory? What if you softened your resistance a bit? Would that free you to live more fully? Less ashamed? Freer to be fully known, loved, cared for, not alone anymore?
It may not be quick, but this choice to live in a way that compassionately allows all of your humanness will be worth every struggle of a moment it takes to get there.
So as someone on “my team” responded to me when I shared I was in tough emotions, may we all
“Just plan on life being a little hard no matter what your situation.“
Extra Musings and Random Thoughts
Kristin Neff’s work on Self-Compassion is life-changing if you truly think you struggle with things like anxiety, perfectionism, stress, or self-criticism. It’s a healing book and research I found through reading Brene Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection first.
You can even take a course in Self-Compassion on Brene Brown’s CourageWorks.
I love this picture of beautiful perfectly imperfect carrots I saw while strolling a local farm market after a morning of yoga on a farm – Lancaster, PA is the best when it comes to fun creative things to do!
Author Debra Fileta was so great to let me in on the book redesign for True Love Dates and my cover ideas were pitched to the whole True Love Dates community this past week! Have fun voting for your favorite: Here