Crisis – An Excerpt from Debra’s Book “The Missing Element”
In this excerpt from her book, THE MISSING ELEMENT: Inspiring Compassion For The Human Condition, author Debra Silverman explains why crisis are the gateway to growth, understanding and reason to search for our missing element…
Sad but true, we all grow out of the soil of pain…The crises that arise in our lives are here to serve us, not to hurt us. As counterintuitive as it sounds, crisis is nothing more than your own soul trying to get your attention, to show you your path.
The soul uses pain, crisis, and trauma to wake us up. Who made that up?
Water is wet, fire is hot, the mango pit is too big, and your childhood was designed to introduce you to pain, death, abandonment, abuse, and heartbreak right at the start. Life doesn’t care how hard your lessons are, or if you can handle them. Life just wants you to learn and to grow, and to keep your heart wide open. You are being stalked through this life to learn lessons and to pay attention to life’s teachings whether you know it or not, whether you like it or not, whether you get it or not. What kind of karma are you carrying? Good karma, bad karma – too bad no one knows what that means.
Hard Truth: from birth onward you carry an invisible suitcase filled with story lines and dramas packed without your conscious remembrance. You take your first breath, then you’re slapped on the bottom, and you are front stage center – a member of the human race. Rushing toward awakening or snoring right through it – it’s a choice. This is life. A breath, some karma, a body, and a big juicy story. Period. Full stop. You arrive and then here comes the wound.
Therapists make millions of dollars delving into your story’s details. They help you to discover why you’re suffering, and they listen attentively, looking for whom to blame, and how you came to believe your version of the tale. They help you to find solutions to make you feel better, then they happily suggest that you come back next week to deal with the next round.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to tell our stories and describe the wound – but with what intention?
The centerpiece of my psychological practice, and of other therapists who are worth their weight is: How can I help you to turn your well-worn stories into a gift and a lesson?
“The cure to pain is in the pain.”
Your story’s power
I’ve looked at the younger generation – I feel for them, this particular generation is suffering. College graduates are expected to go out into the world and be successful, loyal, reliable, kind, knowledgeable, respectful, on time, fit, beautiful, and rich. We expect you to get married, pay taxes, buy a house, go to church, never have a sexual thought about anyone but your partner, and raise perfect children. Good luck with that.
What they ought to say to us is: Be prepared. You will fail, you will break down at some point and become overweight, addicted, and aged. Your children are going to do drugs and hurt you; some tragedy might befall them. Your parents may never understand you or even want to understand you, and you will doubt yourself every step of the way.
These are the insights I have gathered from watching human nature right up close and personal for more than three decades. I have studied you, and I am going to speak to the obvious.
We all started off determined to love our mother, father, and siblings. We accepted our childhood upbringing as “normal.” It didn’t matter what the story line was – how crazy or straight it was – we all had to eat, sleep, go to school, look for love, and hope that someone cared. We were forced, by circumstance, to accept our parents’ reality – until we were able to leave their homes and begin our journeys as individuals. No matter where we went, we carried the imprint of our childhood.
One of the purposes of my work is to help you understand those early stories, and to ask yourself, “What is the nature of my unique personality? What am I supposed to be learning as a result of my life story? Do I have patterns that repeat themselves over and over? Do I tend to be broken-hearted? Am I always short on cash? Do I often feel unappreciated?” No matter how many spiritual books you read, crystals you hold, or green protein powder you drink, you cannot be freed of your story without identifying your broken record and becoming conscious of how it limits or supports you. You are who you are – it’s not about changing your own nature, it is about rewriting the story, embracing your shadow with compassion, so that you can bless this life and live in gratitude, as a kind, loving being.
I can confidently tell you this: wherever your greatest pain lives – whatever story that follows you around like a boring friend that you just can’t get rid of – therein lies the rocket fuel to get you to your purpose and wisdom. Your pain and your purpose are one and the same.
Personally, I consider that thinking of pain as the doorway to wisdom is a horrible idea because we’re all going to resist it. No one willingly walks into hard lessons. Most of us deny, avoid, and drive as far away from pain as we can. But it doesn’t matter. Pain is our primary access point for learning the important lessons. Period.
Take a moment to reflect and it’s not hard to see. Every time you’ve experienced real pain you have entered a phase of growth. Did you learn the lesson and change your ways, or are you repeating your story over and over again?
Don’t fear – your repetitive story has been perfectly designed just for you. Consider the example of the Dalai Lama. If you look at his life you will see how he was set up to learn (and then to teach us) about letting go.
He was recognized as the Dalai Lama at the age of three, and had to leave his parents’ home. This is what happens with Rinpoches – they are taken away from their families and trained as leaders. The Royal Highness began his lifelong practice of “letting go” as a toddler.
As an adult, he had to let go once more when the Chinese mandated that he and his monks were no longer welcome in Tibet. They were forced to leave their temple, never to return again.
“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things….” – THE DALAI LAMA