Making an identity of pain

Half of woman's face with closed eyes against black background

“As long as you make an identity for yourself out of pain, you cannot be free of it.” ~Eckhart Tolle

When we are grieving deeply, our pain can be so overwhelming that it seems to have taken over our entire life and identity. It’s important to remember that no matter how intense our relationship is with our pain, it is still not who we are. When we remind ourselves that it’s just something we are in relationship with (even an overwhelming intense one at times), it helps us keep our identity separate from it so that we do not find ourselves stuck with it for good.

Where insight is born

infant appears to resting on flower with blurred colors in background

“To demand that others should provide you with answers is like asking a strange woman to give birth to your baby. There are insights that can be born only of your own pain, and they are most precious.” ~Janusz Korczak

I so often want others to give me life’s answers, but I’ve always discovered life’s most important answers inside myself. What answers might you need to stop looking for anyone else to give you, so that you can find them yourself instead?

What can you sit with?

Young child and teddy bear sitting together

“Instead of asking ourselves, “How can I find security and happiness?” we could ask ourselves, “Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can I stay present to the ache of loss or disgrace—disappointment in all its many forms—and let it open me?” This is the trick.” ~Pema Chödrön

How well are you able to sit with your own suffering? What about the suffering of others? The only way to heal our pain is by going through it, and that means being able to sit with it, open to it, and touch its very center. We need to be able to do that for ourselves and accompany others as they do the same, without rushing to make it all go away. This may be the hardest challenge most of us will ever face.