Your suffering was all worth it.
I’ve been through a lot in my lifetime. You’ve probably been through a lot of challenging things, too. That’s just the nature of being a human being who has lived for more than a few years.
Life is messy. None of us get through unscathed. We all collect wounds and scar tissue throughout our lives, be they physical or emotional.
In the first 25 years of my life I was bullied, heartbroken, and spent years in unhealthy relationships. I had panic attacks. I tried to kill myself. I experienced bouts of depression, erectile dysfunction, and phases of sexual compulsivity.
Things didn’t just happen to me. I also did things that I wasn’t proud of. I broke a lot of hearts, made bad choices, suppressed my emotions, and lived out of integrity for years of my life.
The Most Valuable Metaphor For Life
Imagine that, when you are born, your life is a large, empty room. And every single day, square building blocks miraculously drop down from the sky and get stacked in the exact same place, for all of your days on earth.
These building blocks represent the experiences that you go through. Regardless of whether you label them as positive or negative experiences, they are simply experiences. And those experiences keep coming at you, whether you feel ready for them or not.
While the experiences keep coming, early on in life the foundation isn’t very solid. In fact, it’s just a single, straight pillar, with the surface area of one building block. Every few years, a large earthquake happens and the building blocks come tumbling down in a big messy heap.
In practical/real world terms, this earthquake could be a devastating breakup, the loss of a family member, or sexual/emotional/physical abuse in a relationship. These earthquakes are often some event that shakes you to your core and causes deep pain, sadness, shame, or grief.
It can feel alarming to go from having been ten building blocks high, to now feeling like you’re starting over from nothing. Your building blocks have scattered and you may feel like you’re back to square one. Which, in a way, you are.
And yet, the building blocks keep descending from the sky, just as they always have. They never stop. And they keep being placed in the exact same spot.
This pattern carries on. The building blocks stack themselves in one place, and infrequent earthquakes keep happening over the course of your lifetime. Over time, the foundation of the building blocks becomes higher and higher. And you don’t feel each earthquake as much as you used to.
This isn’t to say that you don’t feel them at all. You absolutely do. You still feel the earthquakes when you’ve been through ten of them, just as you continue to feel the grief of your close friends dying even if you’ve already known other friends and family members who have passed away previously.
You don’t become numb to the earthquakes, you just feel stronger and more resilient because your foundation is increasingly wide.
This is life. Experiences keep coming at you. You live them, you feel them. And every now and then, your life gets shaken up by something significant. Everything crumbles to the ground.
And yet, over time, it gets easier to deal with because you become more resilient and your struggle is your strength. You can say with confidence, “I have felt a pain like this before, and it didn’t break me... so I will get through this as well.”
All Of Your Suffering Was Worth It
No matter what you have been through, it has made you who you are today. It has made you stronger, more resilient, and more able to be a pillar of support for others that you cross paths with.
For so many years of my life, I thought that life was just happening to me. I thought that all of my suffering was unnecessary... that the pain I was experiencing was just life being cruel. I eventually came to realize that life wasn’t happening to me, it was happening for me.
We can only ever experience true compassion and deep empathy when we have been through something similar to the person we are being an emotional support for. And with each life experience that I went through, I was then that much more able to be a supportive healer for every person who was currently suffering in a way similar to what I had gone through.
I was able to move from “That sounds awful” to “I’ve been there. I get it. It’s absolutely the worst.” and have it mean that much more. Seen in this light, all of our suffering is a gift.
Your suffering allows you to become:
- More compassionate
- More empathetic
- Less judgmental of other’s experiences
- More self-aware
- More self-loving and self-compassionate
- More aware of relationships that don’t serve you, and more able to remove yourself from them
- More resilient under pressure
Does suffering automatically allow you to become this way? No. You have to do some healing work on the suffering in order to have it turn to compassion, resilience, and self-love.
Your pain has to be felt, experienced, lived through. Buried pain does not turn into compassion and self-love, it turns into judgment, physical tension, illness, anxiety, and depression.
Compassion comes from healed pain. Whether it’s immediately apparent or not, your suffering was all worth it. And the gifts that you gleaned from your most traumatic experiences will only become more apparent with time.
This article was originally published at Jordan Gray Consullting. Reprinted with permission from the author.