The Union Path Podcast - A practical spiritual podcast about truth, awareness, and walking the path of unity.
The Union Path Podcast
"Grief for a Life Denied"
We're all walking around with pain in life, in human life in our lives. Pain is inescapable. Pain is unavoidable. Pain comes along with it. Pain comes along for the ride. Pain comes with the territory. It's just part of living. It's just part of being that at some point we will experience pain. And we all choose how we deal with this pain.
We all choose what we do with this information, what we do with this awareness. We all choose how much we strive to avoid pain. How much we choose to ignore pain. How much we steer away from pain at every possible opportunity. We choose our own comfort level with pain. We choose our own relationship with pain.
And that's the way pain plays out for any one of us is unique because all of us choose how we deal with it. All of us choose what we deal with it. All of us choose our experience with pain. And it's this thing again, that is so universal, yet in a lot of ways, it's kind of difficult to talk about. It's kind of difficult to know, kind of difficult to acknowledge, not only among people, but with ourselves.
And so many of us have this. Kind of trap door reflex that whenever anything painful happens to try to shut it behind a door, to try to erect some sort of firewall, to try to build some sort of barrier, not only feeling and fully experiencing this pain, but more importantly for avoiding and never feeling this kind of pain ever, ever again.
For so many of us, when pain happens, We push it down, way down, as far as we can, not only out of sight, but if we can, out of awareness. We pretend it doesn't exist. We pretend it doesn't affect us. Or at the very least, we just refuse to look at it, we refuse to acknowledge it. And through our ignoring, if persisted for long enough, it really does seem to fade away.
That's kind of one of those things that... We've all experienced that when we become aware of something, we seem to see it everywhere. Kind of that expression of, once you see something, you can't unsee it. Whether it's something we realize ourselves or something someone has pointed out to us, we realize something and then it just seems to be all around us.
When a few minutes before wasn't something either we ever noticed or definitely didn't think was as common as it was. Well, the opposite is also true. That when we intentionally try to unnotice, not notice something, it can kind of fade away. Moves way into the background. To the point where it isn't really seen anymore, it isn't really felt anymore.
It isn't really experienced anymore. But the thing about pain, at least in my experience, Is that as long as it's there, as long as it dwells within us, it is having an effect. In fact, I think that's one of the things that comes along with building up our own self awareness. It's almost automatically, it seems, we start to develop a greater awareness of other people.
That's one of the funny side effects of it that, you know, this self awareness can seem like really individual, even to the point of being really self centered. But the truth is, the more we learn about ourselves, the deeper we go within ourselves. The more we start to notice and know more about others, the more we start to understand others, that self knowledge can be transferable, can be applicable to people other than ourselves.
And that's just something that kind of automatically happens. The more self aware we are, the more aware we are. And that awareness, that general awareness, includes everything in our world. And that a lot of times this doorway The greater general awareness does start with greater self awareness. And thank goodness because that's the thing that's most accessible to all of us.
We can always become more self aware no matter how aware we are. There's always something we're missing. There's always something about ourselves that we either haven't noticed or choose not to notice. Something we've never really thought about, or some sort of oakscreen that we've created in order to obfuscate how we really are, what we really are, how we really feel, and with this self awareness, with this deepening self awareness, and thus deepening awareness of others, I think one of the things we can pretty clearly notice, or at least seems to be true, seems to at least be plausible, if not likely, Is that not only are there a lot of people walking around with a lot of pain, but pain dictates a lot of what people do.
We can see it in their responses. We can see it in their reactions. We can see it in their overreactions. We can see it in their criticisms. We can see it in their negativity, we can see it in their pessimism, we can see it in the biting comments they make, we can see it in their anger, we can see it in their fear, we can see it in their reluctance, we can see it in their reticence.
And again, we never know for sure what is going on within someone else. But if we at least understand what's going on within ourselves to the best of our ability, we can at least make an educated guess. We can at least start to notice that when other people behave a certain way, and we've caught ourselves behaving the same way, and we've gotten underneath that behavior and we've kind of isolated a set of reasons, we've found a bit of a why.
To the what that we've been doing. Then we can look at other people and start to apply possible wise to them as well. And of course, this isn't to be able to tell other people what they're doing and why this isn't the purpose of knowing more than other people. It's really more about understanding. It's really more about compassion.
It's really more about grace, but understanding that hard things are hard and no matter how easy someone else's life seems to us, there are aspects of it that are hard. There's pain in there somewhere. Everybody has it and everybody experiences it differently. And part of this realization, part of this knowledge that everyone carries around and experiences their own pain does naturally build a bit of compassion, a bit of understanding that it, Doesn't really make us feel better if...
Somebody was mean to us in some way, but at least if we can understand how that might have been triggered by their pain, at least softens the blow a little bit. It at least allows us to see them outside of, and in a greater context than just the behavior, just the incident, just what happened. Like we can see them more as a full person.
We can see them more as... Not just what they do, but really more in the light of who they are. And I believe one of the most profound ways that we all carry around pain is in the form of grief. No matter how good our lives have been, we've always experienced loss. Things, at some point, haven't gone the way we wanted.
We've all experienced disappointment. We've all experienced rejection. We've all experienced in some way, life not working out the way we wanted, the way we hoped. We've all gone for things and been told no. And again, everyone deals with this differently, and for some people it does seem to roll off more easily than others.
But part of being alive is part of having these sorts of experiences. It's having this sort of pain, in some way, in some measure, because of this pain, carrying around some amount of grief. And it's really difficult when that grief has been for a life denied for something that we wanted or something that we wanted to be, something that we wanted to do, a life we had envisioned for ourselves.
And for whatever reason, life seemed to just tell us no, seemed to reject us, seemed to reject that whole premise and said that, no, you can't do this. You can't be that. So you better be happy with this other thing instead. That rejection, that rejection of aspiration, that rejection of dream, that rejection of vision, that rejection, especially when we've really put our heart into something, when we've really put our soul into something, when we've really put all of ourselves into something and have been rejected for it, those are the pains that really get in there, that really hurt.
that really penetrate and wound us. And if we've experienced a lot of this sort of pain, it's no wonder that we would adopt a coping strategy of avoidance because this hurts so bad because this isn't only the rejection of what we're doing. On some level, this feels like a rejection of who we are. This feels like an original rejection.
Like there's some sort of flaw in our being, like the way we're composed, that what we're made out of, that what we're made of is somehow wrong, that we've created the original sin of existing. And that hurts. That really hurts. And so for a lot of us, when we're hurt that way, when we're wounded in that way, We can adopt a strategy of pain avoidance.
We can center a lot of our decisions, if not all of our decisions, around just avoiding that sort of pain ever again. We can play it safe. We can sort of hide in the shadows of life. We never really stick out. We never really shine. We never really express ourselves. We never really dare to be our full selves.
Because for whatever reason, when we've done that in the past, it just hurt too much. So we've dimmed our own light. We've turned away. We've averted our gaze from who and what we really are. And instead of adopted an existence and experience, an expression more centered around safety. Conformity. Not being judged.
Not being different. Not standing out. Not being open to criticism. Not being open to rejection. But living in this way. Living differently than who we are. Putting away what we actually want. Bearing our dreams. Bearing our desires. Bearing the full expression of our full selves comes at a cost. And we can feel it.
We can feel that loss. We can feel that Opportunity loss. And in my opinion, the way that I've experienced that, the best word that I have for that is grief. Grief at the loss. Grief at the loss of someone. With that someone being ourselves. That it feels like a part of us has died. And then we're subject to just live in mourning from then on.
We adopt a life of less, we adopt a life of smallness, we adopt a life of avoidance, and thus walk around on some level, and it may be slight, for some of us it's not, of pain, of sadness, of grief, it's just kind of unshakable. This grief for an unlived life, this grief for a denied life has a profound effect.
And so when we're on this journey of self awareness, when we really start to become aware of ourselves, these are some of the things we run into that aren't so pleasant to experience. We run into our own pain when we run into the things we do to avoid pain. And if we've experienced a lot of pain, it can be overwhelming.
We can kind of tap that Vein of pain within us. I think it can be overwhelming. It can take our breath away. It can feel like just too much. It can feel like we're scared to start crying because we don't feel like we'd ever be able to stop. Or if the way our pain manifests itself is through rage and anger, and we feel like if we ever really accessed that volcano within us, we'd never stop erupting that it would be infinite.
And when we have these sorts of experiences, when we have these sorts of encounters, that's really, really difficult to deal with because even though pain is a feeling, even though we know no matter how strong a feeling is, it can't actually hurt us. We all have thresholds. We all have things we can deal with.
We all have things we can tolerate. And for some of us, if we experience a lot of pain, it can feel like that's just too much. But I think if we encounter pain, if it makes itself known to us, that on some level, it's my belief anyway, then that's evidence that we are equipped to deal with it. That doesn't mean we have to deal with it on our own.
That doesn't mean we have to knuckle down and cold turkey our way through digging up all of our pain all at once. Each of us has an individual process and we need to trust ourselves with what that process is. For some of us it's an individual path, and for some of us it's a path with help, with lots of help.
But whatever it is, when we encounter stored pain, I think it's important to do something about it. I think it's important, especially when we notice that pain is having an effect on our life, to know it doesn't have to be that way. We don't have to drag these corpses of past loss around with us to constantly be affecting not only our present but our future.
We can actually find a way through it. We can actually find a way to let go. We can actually find a way to set down our pain. Pain isn't meant to be manifest and resident in our lives forever. Pain is honestly meant to be transitory. It's meant to be temporary. But we can hold on to it. And that's part of the disservice we do to ourselves by locking our pain behind a vault door is that it never allows it to move, it never allows it to leave, but it's just too much to feel it.
So we never allow ourselves to feel it. And as long as we're avoiding feeling it, it's never able to really move. And so it just gets stuck. and stagnant. And if we've stacked pain on top of pain, on top of pain, on top of pain, on top of pain, that exists at a foundational level of our being that can't help, but be influencing our life experience.
That if we have a lot of pain, I don't think we have to look very hard at our life. If we're really aware and we're really honest to see the myriad effects that pain has been having, just like experiencing pain in life is inescapable. I also believe that it's inescapable, that internal pain will be reflected, will make itself known, will make itself be shown in our lives.
Because I also think there might be an idea, there might be a sensation that we can work with pain, that we can somehow manifest it and channel it. We can use it. For me anyway, it's my opinion. That's never been successful because oftentimes, at least for me anyway, The way that energy gets translated is either into anger or depression, either rage or despair, either fury or hopelessness.
And neither one of these are what I want. Either one of these are how I want to live. And so it's been my experience anyway, that pain is a very dirty fuel. And again, I think we can see this when we observe others, when we observe others with empathy and compassion and awareness that when we can see, Pain being expressed by others, especially in an unconscious way, it can be very damaging.
It can cause all sorts of ill effects. It can cause a lot of damage. And so in my opinion, anyway, the best thing to do with pain is to get to a point where we can release it. That over the longer term, there's no good, there's no value in holding onto it. That the help that pain can give us, that the growth that pain can provide, can only be given and provided after it's been worked through.
After it's been released, after it's been set down. And so we do ourselves a favor by getting to this point. However we can, whatever that means for us. Whether there's much grace and gentleness and understanding. But also with as much resilience and determination as we can muster. Because it's worth it.
Getting through pain is worth it. Whatever that means for us. However we do it. Whether it just involves something we do or that we need help to do this. It's worth it. Because in a lot of ways, At the very least, pain is a lot of dead weight, it's a lot of cruft, it's a lot of blockage, and it's also an anchor to the past.
And until pain has been fully released, fully let go, in some way we can't fully move forward. We can't really begin anew, because in some way, however we begin, whatever we do, We'll be informed and influenced by that pain. So if we're trying to create change in our life, if we're trying to be or do something different, sometimes that pain can be what's standing in the way.
That pain can be what's rooting us to what has been. It's keeping us locked into patterns that's keeping us just following the same ruts over and over and over and over and over again. In order to change, in order to do something different, in order to be different, that pain has to be encountered, has to be dealt with, has to be handled.
Which usually involves being felt, being experienced, and getting to a point where we can let it go. We can let it move. We can free it. We can liberate ourselves by liberating our pain. That it's remained resident inside of us because it's been held captive. And we're the captors. And by us holding our pain and captivity within ourselves, we're also holding our life in captivity as well.
Keeping and maintaining very stark and strong boundaries on what our lives can be because we're holding on to our pain. And again, this isn't something trivial. This isn't something easy. This isn't something where, oh, your problems are just pain, so just Stop feeling pain. We avoid it for a reason. We suppress it for a reason.
Pain is extremely hard to deal with, but it's not impossible, but even though it is possible, each one of us has our own way of doing it. Each one of us has our own right way of dealing with it and our own right time. That even if we've sensed this gigantic cache of pain within us, It may not actually be the right time to deal with it right then.
The awareness right then might be enough, right, be enough to deal with it eventually. And we can trust ourselves, we can trust ourselves that we'll know when the right time to deal with our pain is. And when that right time comes, we can know that we'll have the courage to do it, we'll have the wherewithal to do it, we'll have the resilience to do it.
But in the meantime, we can know that the awareness is enough. We can be gentle with ourselves, we can be kind with ourselves, we can be understanding with ourselves, of understanding that hard things are hard, and a lot of times hard things take time. A lot of times hard things take timing, and that we don't have to force, we don't have to cajole and...
Berate ourselves into doing anything before we're ready. But at the same time, if we are ready, we don't have to stop ourselves either. We can process this grief of a life denied and let it go release the past so that we can actually move forward, so that we can actually move forward and step into the life that we actually want so we can actually move forward being the person we actually are, so we can actually find our way to wholeness and full expression.
Because we don't have so much space, we don't have so much energy within us being occupied by our own pain. Because it seems to me, if our hearts are full of pain, then that's space that love can't occupy. That's space that the things that we want can't occupy. So to live a full life with a full open heart, we have to work through our pain first.
We have to work our pain out of us. We have to let our pain leave us so that we have room for what we want. So we have opportunity to feel what we want. So we have the ability to experience what we want. And it's not that pain doesn't have value. It's not that pain can't be helpful. Pain does change us, but we're the ones who ultimately get to choose what form that change takes.
We're the ones who ultimately get to choose. How long that change takes because we've all seen it. We've all seen people experience great pain and be completely diminished by it. We've also seen people, we've also witnessed people who've experienced great pain and that experience has actually made them more, has made them greater than in our thinking about how full of our hearts are of pain.
There does seem to be something to the idea that if we've experienced a lot of pain, that once we clear that pain out, we'll have a lot of space for love, a lot of space for kindness, a lot of our space for compassion, a lot of that space for caring, that by going through all of that pain, we've kind of experienced a bit of an enlarged heart, so to speak.
But again, in order to use that space. We have to clear that pain out first. We have to transcend and traverse through that pain in order to be able to experience something different, in order to experience something greater, in order to experience something more. But all of those benefits come after, and those benefits are worth it.
I'd make the argument that those benefits, in a lot of ways, are the point of the pain in the first place. It's not just something that happens to us. To hurt us, to harm us, to wound us. That part of our growth, part of our evolution, of becoming more, a more ideal version of who and what we really are.
Becoming more of an expression and manifestation of the golden liquid light that we all have on our inside. That experiencing this pain was a requirement in order to be able to access. and experience and express more of that light. That we had to be expanded by the darkness before we can experience an expansion of the light.
Because in our experience of life, in the way we experience things, it's natural to chop things up into bits. to say this part is good and this part is bad. But really, a life is a life. Even though we may chop it up all sorts of different ways, in its whole, it's a single line. It's one thing. And so we may say these things that are painful or bad and should be avoided, and these things are enjoyable or good and should be increased.
Those are all points on the same line, and thus they're all part of the same process. Life is a process that's being worked out, and worked through, and worked with, for all of us. And each part of the process Informs every other part of the process. Everything is connected. So it may seem like a paradox at the very least.
It may seem like kind of an unfortunate irony that in order to experience the greatest joy, sometimes we have to experience incredible pain first may seem like a terrible bargain may seem like a horrible deal. But that's only if we focus in on only the pain, on only the negative and we don't pay attention to, we don't honor, we don't acknowledge what the going through, what the full experience of that pain has allowed us to experience in the form of love and joy.
And in the line of our life, for every up there's a down, for every Right. There's a left. It's all part of the same line. It's all part of the same overall experience. And we do ourselves a favor. We make that overall experience better by finding a way to experience all of it, finding a way to experience life, pain, and all by finding a way to let go of our pain.
So we can clear that space to experience something new, something better. So we can fill our heart with something other than just pain and just loss and just grief. We live a full life. By living with a full and open heart, we live life with a full and open heart when we clear out the pain that gets in the way.