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EmbraceYour Life’s Pain
Written By: Mark Smith


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The therapist is in therapy himself. (This is an aside, but don’t ever see a therapist who hasn’t spent a great deal of time in therapyland himself or herself. Great therapists are made on the therapy couch.) During the long trek to the beach with my kids plugged into their Ipods, books and text messages I had opportunity to check in with my therapy group via telephone. The discussion centered on embracing life’s painful challenges opportunities to positively heal and grow. One of the therapists said that she had a friend who said that he and his soon to be ex-wife had committed to framing their divorce and all that goes with that as magical healing grounds. I found that so refreshing.

In our culture it seems that divorce is almost always seen as a failure and a disaster that produces nothing good. Actually a divorce is fertile ground for tremendous insights, healing and growth. What learning can you squeeze from whatever seemingly tragic and difficult circumstances in your life? I recently experienced the loss of my sister to an automobile accident. While it was truly tragic and sad it did afford me an opportunity to shift my role in my extended family, to connect with family members that I wasn’t previously close to and to grieve the loss of my ancient family of origin bond. And now it seems that in one of life’s surprises I will get to take over my sister in raising her son his last year before he goes to college. I didn’t see that coming but I am excited about what life has set before me.

Another metaphor that was shared in the group session was seeing life’s struggles as an opportunity to play in the sandbox of life. I loved that too. I think that most of us tend to take life way too seriously. Can a distant, loveless marriage be a sandbox? It can be a space to learn, to think deeply, to pray, to examine one’s blind spots, to forgive, to love, to let go and yes, even a space to play with humor, with metaphors and with creativity. Instead of asking what your situation is unfairly doing to you, ask how and why YOU created your situation. On the grounds by my Broadripple writing office there is a very large and a very cool sandbox. There is always a little kid playing in that sandbox. There is a very similar little kid in all of us. Truth be told the little kids in us have a lot to do with creating the difficult issues we find ourselves in our adult lives. Jesus said that you must become like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven. A child looks at life freshly with faith, possibilities, curiosity and playfulness. A child is full of ‘why nots’.

I have a client that I have to continually remind that life is an adventure. She occasionally sends me a snide e-mail complaining that ‘adventure’ is a much too romantic and positive word for what she is experiencing in real life. I then remind her that life is a wondrous adventure for all who embrace the journey. So, what can your bout with cancer teach you? What is the universe prodding you with in the sandbox of the unemployment? What priceless pearls of wisdom can be gleaned in the magical healing grounds of your divorce? Milk these difficult experiences for all that they are worth. You are not a victim. Life is fair. What kind of tasty, sweet, exotic lemonade are you going to concoct when life gives you nothing but lemons? Taking a victim’s mentality is just an excuse to quit fighting. To be successful in life you have got to be tough at times while retaining the ability to also be deep, tender and open when life calls for those abilities.

The scripture also tells us that there is a time to weep and a time to dance. If you have the courage to face your difficulties and your grief directly with the faith and spunk of a child you will ultimately find your time to dance sooner then later.

To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. ~Agnes De Mille

Dancing is like dreaming with your feet! ~Constanze

See you next week.





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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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