A host of dynamics can drain energy from our lives. Demands added, seeing loved ones suffer, any form of loss or separation from what provides health and well being, and spiraling disappointments are just a few examples of the numerous hits we can take. Functioning in daily life can be diminished by increasing ‘life burdens.’ Translating the weight of life into depth of being is one skill for handling what can weigh on us. This topic was chosen as the first of the Those in Need topics because most all of us are burdened by situations or circumstances in our lives. Losses can mount up and be as debilitating as any serious disease.
Many wise people have written about the immense personal growth that can come out of immense personal suffering. They are not underestimating the suffering, or trying to give some upside to it. Many who have written about this, write from their own experiences, and try to share what helped them get through. If these suggestions could be synthesized, four steps would emerge: self awareness, acceptance, realization, and plan of action. Two scenarios will be used in explaining how these three can help translate weight into depth.
Devastation can change us a moment. It is like a TV channel or website changing in just a “click.” One interaction, one new information, or message, can stop us in our tracks, producing a feeling of shock. In the first scenario, you receive a phone call that someone you know well has just been diagnosed with a serious disease, and will need a lot of help to get through it. Your concern weighs on you; and, you fear your own existing demands leave you little energy. to cope or take on the situation. Feelings of guilt can especially weigh you down if the situation is with a loved one or family member/close friend because you do not feel you are able to give what they need.
In a second scenario, you experience such a continuity of losses that they finally build up into one huge impasse. You first lose a special item, and then you lose a friend or an opportunity. Then you are told you have added duties at work (that you really don’t like). It seems like your life is a constant stream of un-fulfillment, rejections, and disappointments.
In both this and the first example of someone close in your life all of the sudden needing more attention, what first helps in this translation of weight into depth of being is a full honest awareness of what is going on inside of you. Fear of what is unknown, realizing you do not feel like you have the energy for it, and even “why me?” are normal reactions, that need honoring rather than producing guilt. Hold the feelings with compassion, remembering that you can go beyond them.
Self awareness is, in part, the capacity to recognize how each moment is affecting you. Thinking “Why I am so sad all of the sudden?” may bring recognition of being in a place where there was once a loved one who is now gone. Coming out of an interaction and saying to yourself “That hurt,” is recognition that someone or something has inflicted pain. Self awareness would seem simple, but it is not. Have you ever found a cut or bruise and have no idea when and where it happened? Have you ever had someone close to you keep pointing out that you are “not yourself” until you finally recognize that they are right? Sometimes we must stop ourselves and say, “why am I so angry all the time?” Societies have yet to value and teach such self awareness as part of education. But, you can rather quickly learn this with becoming intentional about checking in with yourself. “Mindfulness” is now being taught, and can be helpful.
In our example of an interaction, information, or message, you can either stay very still and listen to all the reactions in you; or, if you are in the middle of an demand, you can put the information in the back of your mind and force yourself to continue what you were doing, and deal with it later. Either will work in self awareness if you know how you best need to process what is happening in you. What does not help is to try to play down the impact of what has happened; or to try to go on with “life as usual.” Nor is denying the amount of change you may be facing helpful. Instead, write out all your feelings, concerns, and fears, and place them where you can add to and respond to them. This is your own personal self-awareness process.
In the second example, self awareness lets you say to yourself, “This is the fourth major disappointment in two months.” Or, “this job (or living situation, or person) is getting more and more impossible.” If you lack such self awareness, situations can almost bury your life before you recognize it. You don’t want to be so incapacitated by situations that by the time you recognize them, you are seriously diminished by their weight bearing down on you. The quicker you can recognize that something or someone has just placed a weight on you by their change of situation, the quicker you can start translating that weight. Some people try to block recognition rather than acknowledge the pain or weight. This is very unhealthy, an example is finding yourself reaching for, or giving into, to unhealthy gratifications and/or compensations. Having a self confidence that you can do something with the weight can be a huge help in being open to self awareness. Again, keeping a journal of the “hits” you are taking, and going back to record how these may change or worsen develops your self awareness. Yes, be “mindful.”
Acceptance often is very misunderstood. Acceptance is very proactive, not at all “giving up.” You have to fully know what you are truly dealing with before you can successfully do something with it. For instance, in the first scenario, if you accept that someone needs a lot more help, but you cannot accept what your limitations are, you will be caught between doing way too much and suffering those consequences, such as spiraling down yourself or pulling away and suffering the guilt of not knowing why you have withdrawn. To hold the entirety of the situation gives you the most information; and from here you can take action that translates that weight. With self awareness of your own feelings and fears, comes acceptance of what you are facing and all your feelings regarding this. Acceptance involves taking your self-awareness, understanding all the situation entails, and having the self-confidence that you can healthily handle the situation.
Accept both what you can and cannot do. There are inner voices that will berate you, be selfish and cold, and those that warn that you will fall apart, telling you that you can’t handle this. But, these are not the voices to follow. These you respond to with: “Ah, but I can and will.” Acceptance is allowing yourself to be fully aware rather than denying, escaping, or unhealthily reacting. And critical to this is self-confidence.
Do not judge yourself, but accept exactly where you are with the situation. Again, strength comes in with, “so this is what I am facing, and I will find my way through it” With this, you are naturally led to the next step, realization.
Realization To realize is to learn something; to realize something you did not know before. With the first example, you may more fully realize how precious and fragile life is. You may realize that you have had a problem with guilt because of how you handled previous experiences. You may realize that you love deeply. These and other realizations give you a more, deeper understanding of yourself, the people in your life, and even life itself. You may realize how “fleeting” and superficial much of what you filled your life with, or the compensations and gratifications you have relied upon to get through. With self awareness that can lead to acceptance, that can lead to realization, comes the strength and foundation for a Plan of Action. If you realize that in the past you knew the right choices, and did not pursue them, search within you realize why, and change it. This will strengthen your next step.
Plan of Action
To choose to pull entirely away from the situation because you don’t want to deal with the tension of what you can and cannot do/give is deadening. To sort out when and what you can do/give, and be honest with all those involved gives life. You may be surprised at both the support you may find through this, or the withdrawal of another. But, within yourself is what you truly need and/or can do. Others’ negative or demeaning reactions (people often react immediately, but in time their capacity to respond emerges, and they may change their attitude). By choosing your plan of action to find your way forward, you are empowering yourself. You are transforming the burden and weight into a self-strengthening, discovering a deeper reality, and realizing your own capacity for resiliency, response, and determination.
Some Final Words for You
The weight of life is always present to some degree. And, becoming an expert in awareness, acceptance, realization, and creating plans of action, increases your self confidence to deal with whatever happens. And these four steps are reliable in translating such weight of life into depth of being.
All wisdom points out that Awareness is crucial. “Wake up” is an adage some wise masters use. Fully acknowledge life situations, people, and yourself to get to Acceptance. Sages teach of how we refuse to acknowledge what we don’t want (or are afraid of) to deal with, and in this is the source of our very defeat. “The truth will set you free” is the teaching to bolster acceptance. And finally, so many of life’s lessons only come from learning through experience. Realization of your present feelings/emotions, fears, etc. as well as from previous situations can provide a foundation to form a healthy plan of action. We ultimately can realize in any situation there can be a vast storehouse of knowledge to draw from and grow through — and in each situation we take on through these four steps the more confidence we have with each new situation. The most profound, and most often misunderstood or dismissed knowledge is that what we love we never, ever, lose. Beyond the our perception of life is only what we know and have, is an eternal reality that holds what we have loved — not what we desired for — but truly loved. And that what we love and have loved is never really gone. I have taught that grieving is the transformation of a loving relationship from the tangible to the intangible. That relationship has the “veil” that separates for sure. But, life is a journey, not an “this is all there is.” The Love that holds all existence holds our loving relationships. We must live our journey through. Intentional suicide to escape defeats our journey (however, suicide from mental health or an un-responded to despondency are met with compassion that Love is) At the end of the journey we return to Love and what and who we loved in truth and integrity.
Do not fear the weight of life, translate it into depth of being, and you will find a huge storehouse of “Life wealth” not gotten to any other way.
Losses, disappointments, personal devastations, physical conditions, and more can bring about a host of negative and negating inner voices: “Why ….?”, “It’s not fair….”, “How can I …?”, “I should have known …”, “What do I do now …?”. There can be inner voices tinged with cynicism and defeatism: “So what!” “Whatever, who cares?” “Screw it!” “Life sucks.” All of these voices left unattended grow louder and cause greater debilitation. Each added weight increases them to the point that they can dominate our consciousness. We can begin to think that what they keep hammering is all there is in life. Burying, masking, or even denying these inner voices doesn’t work. What does work is taking special time to listen and respond to these voices.
It is not much different than seeking out special time with someone who you think can really hear and respond to you. And, if there is someone like that, seek them out also. Often though, we are left alone in what is weighing us down. Finding the wise and compassionate voices within truly helps.
On the Music for You page, you can find music cds that have musical pieces to honor those going through times of need. “Compassions Caress”, “Soft Light,” and “Emerging through the Suffering” are excellent. “Giving Life” helps to give vibrancy and energy at all times, but especially during difficult times.