IMG_3486How to SEE Your Hidden Self: Part 3 of 6

 

Part 3 of learning to SEE yourself will allow you to explore ways to question your beliefs while looking at the topic of SUFFERING.

Let’s dive straight in and examine the concepts of Pain, Fear and Suffering.

  1. Pain – physical discomfort caused by external events, internal thoughts & beliefs.
  2. Fear – unpleasant emotional feelings or thoughts caused by external or internal events and/or beliefs. Fear is often a felt experience in the body once the thought is embraced, for example a racing heart, shaking, chest pain etc.
  3. Suffering – a state of mental and / or physical discomfort, based on a negative perception or interpretation of an experience in the present, usually combined with an unhealthy emotional attachment to a past pain or future fear.

Of these 3 concepts, suffering is the only human condition where we always have a choice. I refer to the work of Viktor E. Frankl who saw 3 possible sources for meaning in life; in work, in love and in courage in difficult times. “Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.”

Let me give you a quick example for understanding:

Watch a wildlife show and see how an animal in the wild shows fear when there’s a possibility her young ones are threatened. Once the threat has gone, she immediately releases the fear and carries on in the present moment. Without the attachment of human emotions to a past fear, this mother does not suffer in the present or fear the future.

Only human beings hold emotional attachments to our past pain stories or future fear stories, and it is this which causes us suffering.

So while pain and fear are natural, letting your pain or your fears stop you moving towards your intended CHANGE, is a CHOICE that can cause you to suffer.

Knowing now that as humans we suffer our stories of pain or fear, be it past, present or future, the question is then:

How do you respond to your stories of pain and fear in the present moment in a healthy way, so as to not suffer in the moment?

Let me share a brief story of how I avoided suffering by having a heathy relationship with my emotions.

I recently committed to a relationship with man who comes from a wonderful big family. Often, family gatherings are fueled with the lively sharing of childhood stories, be they happy or sad. What I love most about these gatherings is that all family members appear to feel free to comfortably and openly share their individual point of view.

004jpgNurtured in a space of unconditional love and laughter, the conversation usually goes like this:

While one person is in the middle of sharing their point of view on a specific story, another family member will usually say, “That’s not how it happened, you need to hear my version of the story.” Once the first person has finished sharing, the next person will tell their point of view on the same story. This usually leads to bellowing laughter, with the rest climbing in and adding their tit-bits on the same story. One of my most endearing moments was at Christmas lunch when their mother, now 85, mumbled with a naughty giggle and a twinkle in her eye, “Best I not share my version on that story.” Their capacity to own their individual point of view on the same story does not cause any suffering, as they a hold a courageous space of unconditional love and acceptance for each other.

In contrast, it is my experience that I come from a rather hostile and mean-spirited family narrative where love, forgiveness, acceptance and presence are conditional, and most often withheld if you hold a different belief or point of view on a story. This used to cause me immense suffering.

Recently I invited my mother, father, one of my brothers and his new girlfriend to a family lunch so that they could meet my new partner. Unknown to me this brother and my father had recently had a falling out.

My mother chose to communicate this falling out to me. While this behavior is still common in my family, I confess I was once again saddened when my mother expressed to me that the mood at lunch might be uncomfortable due to my father’s tightly held expectation of an apology from my brother.

I was excited to see all of them and so I conveyed a simple message to my mother, saying that I love my father and brother both the same, no matter my human likes or dislikes and wished them both love and peace for their individual choices in this matter. I expressed that tension might be their mood of choice, but would not be mine.

A while later I got a message from my mother saying, “I have just told Dad that your brother is also going to be at the Sunday lunch and he says that he is then not going to be there and it is now too late for him to apologize.”

I was then asked to un-invite my brother as my dad said he did not want to embarrass us all if he gets up and walks out if he sees my brother, followed by “Dad says he needs to know before we leave tomorrow morning which is about 7:00am.”

While the dialogue between us went on a bit, in short I conveyed to my mother that the invitation was to all four of them, from my partner and I, and that it was their choice to attend or not. I also conveyed a personal wish that we detach from judgment from past painful experiences and all pitch up in space of love.

This then lead to a barrage of texts from my father to me, which saw me cry openly at a dinner with friends, as I reacted in the moment and owned my feelings without shame. I excused myself from the table, sent a message back to my father and reminded him that he should honor his own choices, but that our open invitation stood from a space of love and that I hoped to see him at the lunch.

The next morning, I received a text from my mother, “Apologies for all Dad’s nonsense last night. Thanks for the invite, I am accepting, maybe he will have a change of heart between now and then. Let me know where to meet you.”

I expressed my excitement at her coming and told her it was not her responsibility to apologize and that I loved them both and hoped to see them both at the lunch.

The five of us met for lunch and had a wonderful time. My mother had to leave early and after she left my brother asked why our dad had not attended lunch. I read him the content that had been conveyed to me. He too was saddened by the fact that our father openly rejects the unconditional love and acceptance we both offer him. My brother shared his version of the same story, which as expected, was different from the one I had heard from my mother. We smiled, let go and high fived each other at our delight that our mother had pitched up for the lunch through her own choice, with unconditional love for herself and for both of us. This somehow felt like a first for us, hence our excitement. We put the story aside and spent a few more hours sharing a wonderful time together.

005In short, I chose to not suffer in the present moment due to:

  • a past pain story (my childhood narrative),
  • a present pain story (sadness that my father didn’t pitch up) or
  • a future fear story (that my father would arrive at lunch and then walk out on all of us).

I share a powerful quote, Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Suffering aside, I could hold my individual sadness in a healthy way for not having a gathering with my father present in the presence of unconditional love and acceptance, as we each honored our individual truth.

But it took me a long time to change my way of being and be open to a less hostile narrative. While I remain in the process of learning with this new way of being, I know only that by identifying the emotions that come up for me when I am faced with a pain or fear story, it allows me to honor and own the emotions attached to the pain or fear in a healthy way. I can then choose to not hide my feelings or act out unkindly or give the suffering meaning, according to the great teachings of Frankl and other brilliant spiritual teachers from Buddha to Jesus to mention a few.

When we allow our pain or fears to keep us locked from believing we have another choice, we act out in ways that don’t open us to love.

This FEAR causes us to feel emotions unrelated to the current moment, and this is what leads us to justifying unloving or unkind behavior, complaining or blaming others. All you can do is CHOOSE your attitude to your individual truth and be open to the truth that the choice of love and acceptance always exists.

For those of you who have completed exercise 1 and 2 of the Dare to Ask Journey by now you will have identified the CHANGE that you are wanting in your life. In this process you have brought some awareness to your ways of being when faced with change. In this journey of seeing yourself, you will be noticing discomforts, resistances, self-judgments or justifications that support a possible lack of momentum towards the CHANGE.

As with any change in life, to free yourself from SUFFERING, you first need to identify your way of being with suffering and then create practices to change your individual way of being in order to live with joy.

But before you undertake your next exercise, a quick reminder of where you are in the Dare to Ask journey.

Step Outcome Process Topics Exercises
 

One

 

How to SEE your hidden Self

 

Questioning and understanding your BELIEFS

Change

Suffering

Forgiveness

1 and 2

3 and 4

5 and 6

For a detailed map of the entire Dare to Ask journey you can download this free PDF.

Exercise 3 will deal with conscious suffering, while exercise 4 will deal with unconscious suffering.

Both of these exercises are intended to open your awareness to your emotions attached to your stories of suffering. During exercises 5 to 8 you will start to explore ways of how to change your way of being when these emotions arise in your day-to day-living, so that you canchoose to not suppress them or give them meaning that stops you from bringing about the intended change that you have set your heart on in exercises 1 and 2.

Exercise 3 – Facing Conscious Stories of Suffering

Intended outcome of this exercise:

  1. To cultivate an awareness about your stories of suffering.
  2. To identify the emotions that come up for you, or to notice if you suppress or hide your emotions when bringing your stories of suffering to the surface.
  3. To identify how these emotions or the suppression of them possibly get in your way.

Over the next 2 weeks undertake the exercise below.

Download your free journal pages for Exercise 3 here.

Once again, when journaling, let the thoughts flow onto the paper as fast as they come out of you, with no attention to spelling or grammar. Remember there are no right or wrong answers, only a process of self-discovery and understanding.

Conscious suffering with pain experiences:

  • Write in your journal about 2 or 3 past or present events in your life that still cause you to suffer.
    • Sum up each event in one or two short sentences, for example:
      • My husband is emotionally abusive.
      • My boyfriend broke up with me. I don’t really know why.
  • Take time to reflect on these stories and then journal about your emotions or the suppression of your emotions with these stories of suffering.
    • Acknowledge and own any and all emotions / feelings that present when you remind yourself of this story, for example:
      • I feel sad and angry that I believe I have to hide my emotions.
      • I feel unloved and rejected as I want him back in my life.
  • Journal about the thoughts and behaviors that are most common when you experience these emotions. For example, do you get angry or upset and then act out by either withdrawing, overeating or loosing your temper in the traffic etc.
    • What thoughts and behaviors arise in the current moment of suffering that might distract you from moving towards a change in your attitude, for example:
      • I want to shout at him, but I always just withdraw into myself. I tend towards denial or I take my frustration out on my children.
      • I want to contact him and beg him to come back. I then get mad at myself for being so vulnerable and tend to mooch on the couch and eat enough candy to gain another pound.

Conscious suffering with fear experiences:

  • Next, write in your journal about 2 or 3 future events in your life that cause you to suffer in the moment as you acknowledge future fear in facing them.
    • Sum up each event in one or two short sentences, for example:
      • My mother is getting older and I know I don’t have much time with her. I am scared as I don’t know how my life will be without her.
      • I lost my job and I am filled with fear as I don’t know how I am going to meet my financial commitments 3 months from now.
  • Take time to reflect on these stories and then journal about your emotions or the suppression of your emotions with these stories of suffering.
    • Acknowledge and own any and all emotions / feelings that present when you remind yourself of this story, for example.
      • I feel despair when I think of what my life will be like without my mother.
      • I feel embarrassed and angry that I didn’t save more to protect myself and my family in the event of my being laid off during a downturn in the economy. I feel helpless when I think of not getting another job.
  • Journal about the thoughts and behaviors that are most common when you experience these emotions. For example, do you get angry or upset and then act out by either withdrawing, overeating or loosing your temper in the traffic etc.
    • What thoughts and behaviors arise in the current moment of suffering that might distract you from moving towards a change in your attitude, for example:
      • I get angry for not spending more time with my mother as my life is so busy with work and raising my kids. I suppress my anger, until I snap at one of my kids for no significant cause.
      • I am angry at the company and want them to change their mind. I tend to worry if they don’t want me who else will hire me in an economic downturn. I get so consumed with the misery of the loss of my job, that I watch TV at home and make no real effort to look for a new job.

Reflection:

  • Take 7 days after journaling about these conscious stories of suffering and meditate in silence for 10 minutes on each of these 7 days. Connect with your soul in the silence so that you can hear what it wants to say, separate from what the mind has recorded above.
    • Notice any thoughts that might come up about what you have recorded in your journal above.
    • Do you see any shifts happening?
    • Are new thoughts or stories presenting?
    • Do you notice if you are possibly stuck in the suffering as opposed to taking action and moving forward?
    • If so journal about them after each meditation session.
  • After this 7-day refection period, journal about how you can possibly see that your emotions are handled in an unhealthy way, or how in your suppression of your emotions you are avoiding the uncomfortable situation at hand.
    • For example:
      • I get sad in the present moment as opposed to enjoying every moment I have left with with my mother.
      • I get depressed and do nothing constructive in the present moment, when I can be taking action and making a determined effort to look for a new job by doing one small thing everyday.

And yes, once again, when you have finished this last exercise sing, dance, have a glass of wine, but undertake a ritual that you enjoy, alone or with your group, to celebrate and honor the courage it takes not to deny any part of your life and your way of being, as you learn to SEE yourself.

Then rest and don’t take yourself too seriously until we meet again in two weeks for your next exercise.

IMG_0017In the interim if you have questions on this topic, either submit your question here (link) or in the comments section below or on FB (link). Likewise, if you have a story you would like to share about your conscious suffering, then please do so on the same links above.

I love you all for your courage.

As always, warm love and regards
Jacqui

Click here to read How to SEE Your Hidden Self: Part 1 of 6

Download your FREE journal pages for Exercise 3

 

Note: I choose to share stories from my point of view on my personal life, both happy and sad, as an educational tool for readers also wanting to live a life of joy, free from the suffering of shame, guilt and blame of their life stories. I ask that no judgments be placed upon my father. As a soul figuring his way in the world he is no different from me or any of us. His choices are his own to make. By opening to this truth I have found ease to love and accept him unconditionally, in full presence of myself, without having to suppress or deny any part of my truth.

As a Spiritual Revolutionary, Jacqui Burnett Dares you to reboot your Spirit, to awaken your body, mind and soul, to Be Love in all that you Believe, Think, Say and Do.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Todd
    Reply

    I truly enjoyed this story. Honesty can be difficult, but necessary for growth. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jacqui Burnett
      Reply

      Thank you Todd.
      The “difficult” makes sense when we remain student, as we share to connect and teach from a common space of “difficult”.
      Warm love and regards, always
      Jacqui

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