Posted by Lissa Carter, LPCA
The moments in our lives that require the most power, clarity, and energy tend to strike when we are at a physical, mental, and emotional low point. This feels utterly unfair. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard my clients say
“I am just too tired to put the work in to make things better.”
Does this sound familiar? If life has been difficult lately, then right now you probably feel you cannot put one more responsibility on the table. You may be asking yourself: how can things get better if I have no energy left to make them better? And how can I muster up the energy to change if the circumstances of my life drain every ounce of energy I have?
This is a rough spot to be in. I’ve been there. And I believe you 100% that it feels true that you have no energy to put into turning things around.
And yet, if you can show up to your life with the skills I am about to describe, you will discover a whole new well of energy to draw from.
Every beautiful heroine’s journey begins with the moment a woman says “enough.” And that one word releases enough energy to take the next step, and the next step generates enough energy to make the next decision. You only have to do what’s in front of you, but the end of your journey is a world away from the reality you inhabit now.
In the years I’ve spent working with women, I have had the honor of meeting people whose life stories would break your heart. These women have been abused, disrespected, traumatized, shattered, and abandoned. And yet each of these brave, powerful beings found the power within herself to heal.
Why is it that some women never recover from suffering, and others have the ability to rebound from trauma to create a meaningful, joyful life? In the years that I have studied this, I have learned that women who navigate the journey out of suffering with grace and wisdom have certain key practices in common.
These key practices help women step from circumstances of misery into lives that reflect their inherent value. For the next several weeks, I am going to devote one blog post per week to each of these 6 key practices.
We have very little control over the amount of suffering that is going to exist in our lives. The only control we have is in how we decide to respond to it. We can decide that the time we’ve spent suffering has not been wasted; we can decide to extract every ounce of meaning from our journey and emerge wiser, stronger, and more resilient on the other side.
(And if the very idea of learning another skill exhausts you, remember this: the practice I am about to describe takes less energy than it does to wash a load of laundry. But that laundry is just going to get dirty again, and the progress you make on your spiritual journey is irrevocable!)
THE 6 KEY PRACTICES FOR TRANSFORMING SUFFERING INTO SWEET RELIEF
Practice #1: CREATING PORTALS TO THE SACRED
What is sacred to you?
Take a moment and really consider that. What does your heart beat for? What would you never forsake? What never fails to move you? What lifts your spirits, keeps you awake, gets you out of bed in the morning?
Take a moment and write down as many answers as come to you. For some of us it is art, or movement, or music, or our relationship to the divine. For some it is surfing, or meditation, or poetry, or the wilderness. There is no right or wrong answer. Take a moment and write down as many answers as come to you.
Look at your list. What if every day, for just five minutes, you devoted yourself to connecting to your sense of the sacred?
If art is sacred to you, this could mean five minutes of art making in the morning. If surfing is sacred to you, and you live far from the sea, this could mean listening to a recording of the ocean for five minutes, or standing on a paddleboard, or watching videos of your surfing idols on Youtube. If the wilderness is sacred to you, this could mean holding a pinecone for five minutes, or sitting with your back against a tree, listening to birdsong.
What if you didn’t take no for an answer, and simply threw yourself wholeheartedly into 5 minutes just for yourself, every single day?
There is a magic that arises out of consistency. The whole becomes more than just a sum of its parts. Over time, your five minutes is not just a connection to your personal sacred, but also a portal to every other morning in which you have done this practice. Windows open on windows and create a depth of trust, a depth of experience that infuses your entire day with meaning. This door you open daily expands the possibilities in your life by allowing a wisdom greater than yourself to percolate into your consciousness. It allows the breeze of change to blow across your life, a breeze that contains possibilities your rational mind may never have allowed for.
5 minutes, every day, no exceptions. Are you in?
How can such a simple practice make a difference?
When our needs are met and we are feeling fulfilled, we naturally connect with the people, places, and things that are sacred to us. However, when overwhelm sets in, this practice often goes by the wayside. Perhaps you meant to read that poem after breakfast, but then your daughter lost her backpack and needed you to help find it. Or you want to do yoga every morning but in order to get to work on time it would have to be at 5 am, and you fear you'll wake your family or your housemates, so you go without. Or if you find 5 spare minutes it's a freaking miracle and you definitely would rather use them for sleep!
It can start to feel extravagant and unimportant to take this time to connect to the things that have meaning for you when life is really tough. It can seem as though every moment of your time needs to be devoted to making ends meet, or planning your way out of the mess you are in.
But the women that I have seen recover beautifully from trauma never falter in their daily practice. They never forget what they are fighting FOR, and that makes all the difference.
I challenge you to try this for one week, and let me know how it goes! I’m always interested in your feedback.
If you are struggling in your life right now and don’t know if you can make these changes alone, the Sweet Relief series might be for you. Read more about it here and let me know if you want to join--space is limited and it starts in May.
Next week we’ll explore Practice #2: UPSOURCING.
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