Embracing Pain, Unfairness, Change, the Unexpected, and Disloyalty

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Embracing pain is, contrary to what we may think, is part of making your separation an opportunity to grown. It will make it better for you. The responsibility of healing is more on your shoulders than you might think. The bad news is that it may be harder than you think. 

Separating from a spouse can be a ridiculously challenging event. Even though this may seem counterintuitive at first, embracing pain in relation to it, can make it a powerful opportunity for personal growth.

Embracing Pain:  Why Me?!

For some of us, we may ask “Why Me?”

David Richo, who is a very clever psychotherapist and Buddhist, says that rather than ask ““Why did such a terrible thing happen to a good person like me? I deserve better” we should instead ask a different question. He teaches us about embracing pain in a way that moves us forward.

In his book (which I highly recommend as a great read):  The Five Things We Cannot Change  . . . and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them he says that we will be happier, less upset, and better, if we instead say “yes it happened” and then ask “Now what?.” 

He says these are 5 things that are an inevitable part of life: 

1. Everything changes and ends

2. Things do not always go according to plan

3. Life is not always fair

4. Pain is part of life

5. People are not loving & loyal all the time

Struggling against these inevitable givens leads us to disappointment, frustration, and sadness. Embracing them with an unconditional “yes,” causes these givens become life lessons.

For every one of these life lessons that can at first seem negative, there is another side to each of them that can result in positive and transformative change for us. This is how embracing pain can make us better. 

David Richo encourages us to see that if we embrace these givens gratefully we can see that they are used to draw out the best in us. They will also be used for us to do our best learning.  

So, instead of letting these painful situations defeat us, we can use it to develop courage and compassion.

Inevitability #1:  Everything Changes and Ends:

Your relationship with your spouse not only changed (and may have ended).

Change often feels like a loss. This can result in sadness or anger. Our attempts to resist or control change will most often lead to our suffering. 

The opposite of this is to yield to change. 

Ever try to resist the flow of a river? Rather than trying to dig our heels in and block the force of a river sweeping past, we can float to the top and let the water carry us wherever it will go.

Inevitability #2:  Things Do Not Always Go According to Plan:

:Sometimes when the unexpected happens, we get angry or discouraged. 

Yet we cannot know everything there is to know about a situation or how life will pan out.

You likely did not plan to have your children raised by 2 parents living in different homes. Instead of spending your energy lamenting the point that you did not expect this to happen, the idea is to see how you can now approach this situation. We learn from everything life brings us.

Were you meant to have greater understanding of how to interact with your children? Were you meant to have greater understanding as to how to listen to others? Were you meant to have a greater understanding as to how to create your relationships with those you love? 

Sometimes it ends up being a good thing that our plans failed, even if we do not realize it at the time. 

Inevitability #3:  Life is Not Always Fair:

We sometimes we get hurt even when we’re careful. 

Instead of struggling against the unfairness of it all, surrender to it, and then allow your new learning and experience to shine through. 

To focus emotionally on the unfairness of life can cause us to become bitter or self-pitying.

In contrast, if we say “yes” to life’s unfairness, we will be able to use difficult circumstances as an opportunity to grow beyond our initial limitations. If a person has directly caused us pain, we can choose to let go of what has happened and move forward. 

If you can try thinking of your separation as an opportunity (even if it still hurts a lot).

Inevitability #4:  Pain is Part of LIfe:

Two things are for sure about pain:  Pain is not a punishment. Suffering in life is inevitable. 

As individuals, we experience varying types and degrees of pain, but we all suffer in some way or another. One common response to pain is creating a mental block or wall against the possibility of future pain. 

For example, if we have a broken heart and decide never to love again we will sell ourselves short. 

When we choose to let go of pain and move forward, our hearts remain open to anything that might come our way in the future. 

We can better serve our kids, and ourselves, when we are in touch with our human vulnerability.

Inevitability #5:  People are Not Loving and Loyal All the Time:

People sometimes lie, betray, or hurt others—even those they love.

When someone we love does this to us, the pain can be excruciating.

Yet, what if we know this is simply what happens some of the time. It is simply the way it is no matter how much it hurts. 

What if, instead, we echoed the Buddhist saying, “This being the case, how shall I proceed?” We can let the emotions of the moment pass through us, and then move on. 

Embracing the 5 Inevitabilities in Your Separation:

Each and every person deals with their separation differently. For some people, embracing pain will be intense, and for others it will be less so. For some people, they will experience deep betrayal by their loved ones. For others, despite their best efforts, they will have been hurt anyway.

And yet for others, they will have serious difficulty accepting the change they are facing.

As parents, we will move forward if we embrace each of these givens as deep learning that will make us grow as parents and as individuals We allow room for happiness. This growth and happiness will make us better people.

Return from Embracing Pain

This article by Val Hemminger, lawyer 

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