May/June 2012, Pg 30
TRANSFORM PAIN INTO POWER
Turn painful emotions & experiences into peace & personal power
by Doris Helge, Ph.D.
Most of what you were taught about life is upside down and backward. You were told your personality is formed by age five. You've heard that you have a genetic set point for happiness and an I.Q. set in stone. Not true!
You are a powerful alchemist. Your personality is as malleable as a ball of soft clay. There is no limit to the degree you can increase your intelligence and there is absolutely no cap on how much happiness you can experience. You have the power to rapidly create a rich, rewarding life by discarding false beliefs that cause you discomfort. Let's begin now.
WHAT'S THE REAL ISSUE . . . AND WHO DOES IT BELONG TO?
You've already done a lot of work on your inner self and you love yourself more than ever. Why do you still sometimes judge your appearance, your ability to have loving relationships or the quality of your work? These core issues sometimes rear their heads when you think you've already dealt with them. When they catch you by surprise, it's easy to wonder if someone else's discordant energy is trying to invade the spaces in your psyche that you've washed squeaky clean.
Here's a quick, easy way to know if an issue is yours. If an event produces an unpleasant emotional reaction like fear, anger or sadness, you still resonate with whatever issue permeates the situation. You can take advantage of a valuable opportunity to learn something, even if only a tiny percentage of your anger, fear or sadness about a particular challenge remains. If the issue is no longer yours, you may feel tremendous compassion for the other person, but you'll know the challenge is no longer yours. However, when an uncomfortable situation continues to present itself, it's offering you a splendid opportunity to gain even more self-respect, joy and confidence.
Maybe you already love yourself 99 percent of the time but the other person is acting like a human mirror. They're providing you an opportunity to acknowledge and honor an uncomfortable aspect of yourself -- like feeling afraid, unworthy or unlovable. Is it worth it to dip back into the sewer of self-loathing when you already love yourself most of the time? You betcha!
The following simple test helps me when my ego gets in the way of admitting my flaws. First, I ask myself, "Is the person who's irritating me a human mirror? Are they showing me something about myself that I either don't want to see or cannot see unless I'm in their presence?"
Sometimes the other person recaps our most recent learning experience. They help us synthesize what we've learned. Sometimes they show us how we cause ourselves headaches by expecting life to match a certain picture instead of accepting and learning from what exists.
DO YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT WHAT HURTS OR IRRITATES YOU?
Many times, I've heard my ego grumbling, "Wait a minute! You don't need to deal with that old stuff again." Of course, it's possible to temporarily suppress unpleasant feelings like "I'm not good enough" or "I'm not lovable." Unfortunately, this approach backfires. It guarantees that I'll re-create additional opportunities to deal with those issues. The uncomfortable situation and my negative feelings magnify until I finally allow myself to learn a valuable lesson and gain even higher levels of confidence and inner peace.
If you don't want to delay or magnify your pain, fully USE the opportunity of discomfort the first time around. Remember that pain and pleasure are side by side in your brain. Anger is holding hands with love, peace and happiness. Fear is nestled with confidence. Sadness is snuggling with joy. From a physiological point of view, we cannot choose to only experience the feelings we like. If we're not willing to acknowledge our anger or fear, we cheat ourselves out of fully exploring their opposites -- peace, love and confidence.
This doesn't mean we have to wallow in negative emotions. We just have to say "Hello" to them so they can spontaneously transform. Since all feelings occupy the same area of your brain, when you have the courage to accept what doesn't feel good, such as, "I feel unlovable," the opposite feeling, "I'm awesome!" is rapidly available to you!
There's no reason to feel ashamed when you discover an area in which you don't love yourself as much as you though you did. It's a gift in disguise. When you progress to the other side of the challenge, you'll be so thankful you didn't cheat yourself out of the incredible benefits of yet one more level of the most magnificent self-love.
All of us sometimes tire of the endless journey of personal growth. We wonder if it's really all that great to be more conscious and aware. If we didn't understand the bigger picture of life -- that we're on the planet to learn and grow -- we might not perceive our unresolved issues. We might be able to go back to sleep, but the price would be outrageous.
When we refuse to accept what doesn't feel good, we self-sabotage. We cheat ourselves out of the highest highs available because we're unwilling to embrace the low points presented by life.
Here's an important secret. The more we try to "be done with" an issue, the more we tighten its noose around our necks. We miss the diamonds hidden in our darkest nights. When we're willing to just feel what we feel in each moment, we zip right through our greatest challenges.
DO SPIRITUAL PEOPLE HAVE NEGATIVE EMOTIONS?
Spiritual development is not about wearing white robes and halos. It's not about separating ourselves from other people by attempting to feel superior because we feel insecure.
True enlightenment occurs when we connect so deeply with ourselves that we experience wholeness of body, mind and spirit. Spiritual development is an endless process. With each new step, we unite more with our authentic selves. Because this connects us with our Divinity, we spontaneously develop healthy relationships with other people. These human mirrors are other parts of ourselves.
Eventually, we are willing to be totally who we are without regard to the social context or the specific individuals present. This includes being honest about our feelings.
If you're not afraid,
PLEASE DON'T GRAB A JAR OF HAPPY-FACE PAINT
Instead of trying to drown tears, fears or anger with denial or fake optimism, use a much more productive approach. Below is the formula I help my clients use so negative feelings become stepping stones to higher levels of positive feelings.
NOTHING ABOUT YOU OR YOUR LIFE NEEDS TO BE FIXED
The road to pain is paved with our judgments and expectations. We're always where we're supposed to be, doing what we're supposed to be doing. Everything that occurs is designed to assist with our self-actualization. When we judge our circumstances or struggle to change them, we hurt. On the other hand, when we use every painful situation to grow, we gain joy, clarity and confidence. We also help other people by serving as an example of a contented, self-responsible individual.
In truth, there are no "negative emotions." All emotions are neutral until we label them. We can experience every single emotion in a positive way. Fear alerts me to take steps to ensure my well-being. Fear of failure nudges me to guard against an unwanted outcome by gaining resources or education that will help me boost my skills or confidence. Acknowledging that I'm afraid also encourages me to have a conversation that clarifies a relationship or performance issue.
If I don't deny or judge my anger, I can easily turn it into focused, productive passion to gain a better life. Sadness encourages me to take advantage of opportunities as they arise instead of postponing possibilities that will help me achieve my dreams. Sadness also inspires me to love more deeply because I comprehend how sweet it is to love so deeply that I miss what no longer exists.
Reminder: It's not necessary to process our emotions endlessly or try to get rid of them or change them. It's only necessary to acknowledge them.
Unpleasant events offer unparalleled opportunities to learn more about ourselves and grow. They are essential for self-actualization. When we safely and constructively feel our emotions, we actively participate in our own lives. Our courage and our willingness to be honest and vulnerable are rewarded by the rapid delivery of the most valuable riches possible -- wisdom, personal growth and happiness.
We discover one of the greatest secrets on this planet. The very best of life -- the crème de la crème -- is our reward for embracing our darkest moments. It's amazing to observe what happens when we approach an unpleasant challenge by asking a simple question with the curiosity of a small child, "I wonder what I'll learn that I wouldn't learn without this experience?" When my clients use the simple tools in this article, they conclude that "darkness" is a myth and "difficult people" are excellent teachers. In fact, it's often the most reliable road to happiness.
© 2012. Excerpted with permission from the #1 Bestselling book, "Transforming Pain Into Power" by Doris Helge, Ph.D. With over 20 years of experience, award-winning, Certified Master Coach Dr. Doris, has a proven track record of helping people like you turn painful experiences into peace, personal power and productivity. Download free ebooks and enjoy life-changing videos at http://FreeJoyEbooks.com and http://CoachingByDoris.com/videos . You may reprint this article as long as it remains in tact and proper attribution is given.