by Gwen Randall-Young
Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom. – Rumi
Most people experience grief and pain at some time in their lives. And some have lives that are filled with grief and pain. Today, I want to talk about the pain we feel when we think we have been wronged by another.
In my practice, I often see individuals who are deeply distressed by an incident that leaves them feeling rejected or not valued. Often, they just cannot let it go. A client’s son was getting married and her sister was deeply offended that she hadn’t been invited. She was upset with my client. The fact was that the couple were paying for the wedding themselves and the parents were not given any say as to who was invited. It was not a personal rejection. It had to do with budget and the young couple wanted to include as many of their friends as possible.
I had another client who had not spoken to her son in months because he waited until early afternoon to call with Mother’s Day wishes instead of first thing in the morning. The fact that the year before her son and girlfriend had taken her along on their trip to Europe was not enough for her to see that she was important to them.
This kind of pain is self-inflicted and is likely triggering the individual’s own undervaluing of themselves. If we do not value ourselves, we will continually need confirmation from others that we are important.
Sometimes the rejection is real: a partner ends a relationship or marriage or a friend is no longer interested in keeping the friendship going. It is easy to begin tearing down the other and blaming them for our pain. Some people hold on to this perspective for years and it comes to define them.
There is an alternative. We can choose to be loving and compassionate to ourselves as we look deeply into our pain and perhaps see it may be triggering other pain we have had in our lives. Maybe, we even see a pattern. We can focus on what we can do or say to ourselves to begin the process of healing. The ‘danger’ we feel when there is a loss can lead to a recognition that we need to build our inner strength. We do have to forge a new path for ourselves and in the beginning, we may feel we do not know how to move on. We need a period of ‘incubation’ where we feel the depth of the hurt or loss. If we do not do the work to heal the pain, we will continue to be vulnerable.
Pain and grief can serve to break us open. Our compassion for others who suffer will be greater because we know what they are living through. If we transcend the bitterness and unfairness of it all, we gain a depth and wisdom we did not have before.
It may seem counterintuitive to go right into the pain, rather than trying to avoid it or numb it. Giving birth to a baby can be a struggle and it can be painful. For most, it is hard work! Giving birth to a new level of awareness can also be a struggle, but the catalyst for that struggle is often the pain. The new growth would not have occurred without it.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, “Deep Powerful Change” hypnosis CDs and “Creating Effective Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca ‘Like’ Gwen on Facebook for daily inspiration.