Pain is a Powerful Teacher

I am unbelievably blessed by the number of quality people in my life; wonderful humans whom I love dearly and trust with my authenticity, individuals who inspire and challenge me, and my inner-circle who listens, supports and loves me unconditionally. I believe we meet people for a reason and the timing is intentional (by design, ordained, stars aligning… you choose), to give and receive in new ways, influence and support, and ultimately learn something new about ourselves, lifestyle, beliefs, and the human experience. We each have a unique story, and when shared and received with an open heart there is always an opportunity to gain understanding, show compassion, and both give and receive the gift of being truly heard.

Through study, counseling, and intentional actions, I’ve changed significantly over the past few years in both obvious and unseen ways. I’d been holding onto thoughts and beliefs formed in childhood; things I was told combined with fundamental experiences became my foundation for living. I created dreams and a vision for life in my youth, and then lived for years with regret and a lingering sense of failure and loss when those dreams didn’t turn out as envisioned or never materialize.

Everything we experience and believe comes from a place of choice and is interpreted through the lens of our beliefs. I hadn’t considered that all beliefs are a choice and choices can be changed, or that when we change a belief it changes everything. From small things like “I’m not built to be a runner” to big things like “divorce is the ultimate failure”, our thoughts about ourself, what life should be like, or what we’re meant to do, have, or become shapes everything. . . absolutely everything that we choose to do or not do, experience or not experience, expect is possible or believe is impossible, is based on our personal belief system. I needed to evaluate and update my beliefs about myself and life, rewrite expectations, and create new dreams to fully release myself from grief I was carrying that I’d allowed to define me in damaging ways. Pain, loss, loneliness, regret, disappointment, and sadness were all heavy emotions deeply seeded in my heart, holding me back from dreaming big, justifying limiting beliefs, and keeping me in a place of dissatisfaction.

Some of the most important lessons in life come from loss, change, and hardship. Pain is a powerful teacher. There is also beauty, freedom and peace in acceptance. I have deep appreciation for some of the darkest moments in my life because without them I wouldn’t have experienced myself as a warrior, I wouldn’t have been forced to become vulnerable with myself and others, and I wouldn’t have seen myself transform and accomplish in remarkable and unexpected ways.

I was recently reconnected with an old friend. For the brief time that we knew each other as teenagers the connection was kindred. Thanks to social media we found one another again and learned that we have some difficult similarities in our life journeys. The opportunity presented itself for some raw transparency and like divine intervention we decided to become accountability partners; providing support, asking thought-provoking questions, and being a listening ear with someone who knows first-hand the hurt, crazy thoughts, discouraging feelings, and highs and lows of rebuilding and healing after years of neglect has been such a blessing. How do you get your light back after diminishing yourself for another, and even bigger, how do you forgive yourself for choosing to shrink? How do you live with passion, enthusiasm, confidence, hope and faith after years of surviving? How do you create new happiness or even believe in happiness while continuing to face the hard realities of divorce and broken dreams? Changing course doesn’t automatically put the broken pieces back together, and healing doesn’t come with a roadmap. Also, grief isn’t a private, ugly emotion, and we aren’t meant to face the most difficult aspects of life alone. Hardship is as normal as breathing, yet we work so hard to hide it from others. There’s definitely a balancing-act to putting on a brave face while processing and healing, and it’s very easy to present yourself as brave and “moved on” while you’re internally suffering. Moving forward isn’t starting over. We take the dents and bruises, the lessons learned, the heartache and regrets, and either allow them to define us or we choose to define them simply as facts about our life that got us from then to now. The power we give to our history determines how it influences the present and how it will travel into our future, and often part of the healing journey requires rewriting some of our foundational beliefs about ourself, family, lifestyle, who we’re meant to be and what we’re meant to do. It requires forgiving ourself and giving ourself the freedom to create new dreams. Often, just being heard and discovering that your fears, thoughts, questions, or an unexpected emotional setback are all completely normal has a powerful way of providing clarity and peace on the bumpy road to recovery.

If you can relate, please remember that we have to travel through our grief, not over, under, or around it, and you are strong enough to face everything you encounter. Even when you feel the most mashed-up, uncertain, and lost, the brokenness you are experiencing is temporary and you are worthy of a healed heart and a happy life. You can change your beliefs, you can choose a new path, you can create new dreams, and it’s normal for both the good and bad we experience to shape us and change us. Also, you aren’t meant to suffer and heal alone, so share your hurt with someone you trust.

I seriously dislike the saying “someone has it worse” as a way of comforting myself or another in a season of trial… it diminishes the hardship. Instead, I like thinking “everyone suffers” because it normalizes whatever heavy emotion is currently in the drivers-seat and creates a feeling of connection with all of humanity. We all laugh, cry, love, fail, experience loss, change course, trust, dream, and fear. The human experience is beautiful and heartbreaking, and I love that each day is a new beginning and we can choose a fresh start, change our mind, transform, and heal over and over again. We aren’t carved in stone.

Published by Brooke Oliphant

I'm an aspiring author exploring the art of writing as an avenue to dive deep into my human experience; to learn, grow, spread light, and inspire others. Together we can live authentically, push ourselves to new heights, face our demons and put them to rest, and live and love without holding back!

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