Paving my own path
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about “paving your own path”. I spoke about three amazing people in my life who have made the empowering decision to move beyond the challenges of their childhood and youth to create their own journey.
I think every step along our journey can help us to become more empowered. Nietzsche said it well: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”. I have witnessed over the years, both in my psychotherapy practice and in my social environment, so many amazing individuals trapped in their suffering, unable to move beyond the trauma/drama. I have been one of those people. Being able to acknowledge our inner strength and tapping into it is one of the most helpful accomplishments we can have. Essentially, we all have strength, or we wouldn’t be here. Despite the coping strategies we have used to stay afloat – be it booze, food, self-harming, sex, etc… – we have survived and are still kickin’!
Suffering is a natural part of life, despite our strong affliction to it. We all experience obstacles and disappointment along our life journey. Ella Isakov, a wonderful yoga teacher and friend, said it well this week: “Setbacks/disappointments are part of the path…it is how you react to them and move forward that counts.” This really resonated with me. It reminded me of one of my clients who often disclosed her anger as a result of continuously being faced with challenges. She stated that she is “weak” and asked, “why does this ALWAYS happen to ME!??!” My answer to her question was to pose her another question (haha a good psychotherapy trick!): “How do you manage to overcome each one of the obstacles you are faced with?” Over time, this client became aware of her inner strength, and her ability to keep fighting every challenge she is faced with. She began to acknowledge how each obstacle enabled her to better understand what is important to her in her life. Fundamentally, it is not the obstacles that make us who we are – it is the way that we confront them.
The more people I meet who have gone through struggles in their lives, the more amazed I am by human resilience. We have all developed coping strategies to deal with our emotional suffering. Some of us choose to stay quiet, as we have learned that being silent will keep us safe from emotional exposure. Some of us develop “larger than life” personalities – being overly verbose and loud in order to seek much-needed attention. Some of us develop dependency and addiction issues as a result of trying to seek some form of pleasure or euphoria. What we soon realize is that none of these options give us what we are truly looking for- INNER STRENGTH. In Sanskrit, the word SATTVA often refers to inner strength. Essentially, to become more emotionally balanced, it is crucial to recognize our self-empowerment, as we tend to depend on the strength of others (either people and/or substances) to buffer us.
I think a main question that a lot of us ask is, “what is the point of all this suffering?” I have thought a lot about this, and have learned through teachers, friends, clients and myself, that the point of life is to find MEANING. So what does this imply? I am talking about finding meaning in all the events that take place in our lives, even in those terribly painful moments. Referring once again to Nietzsche: “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” When we can find strength in the suffering, and see it as serving a larger purpose, then we can become more free of it.
So this leads me to my own journey. I have been very fortunate in my life in so many ways; however – like many of you – have experienced struggles. I am a trauma survivor, and have developed so many symptoms and ineffective coping strategies in my adult life as a result of this. Last week, I had a telephone conversation with my mother where, for the first time in my life, I said, “mom, you were right. I feel like I am finally NOW starting to find meaning out of everything that has happened.” My mother – being the supporter that she is – said, “I told you so! I always knew you would!” haha. I always knew that having experienced major struggles, including depression and anxiety, would better enable me to relate to my psychotherapy clients, and it most definitely has. But I realized last week a desire to do more to help the larger community and, consequently, a need to let go of my insecurities and fear of failure that have kept me at a standstill.
A few people who know me encouraged me to share my own story of inner strength and growth. So here goes: my “paving your own path” story is that I have recently founded a non-profit charitable organization called Yoga Unite. Its mandate is to raise awareness and funds for local organizations that provide services to marginalized communities. I am so fortunate to have a great team of people working with me who I am blessed to know. We will be putting on great yoga fundraisers in the city to raise awareness and financial assistance for the chosen local organizations. The way I see it, it is a risk – as all things in life are. But, I have nothing to lose, and so much to possibly gain. I am very humbled and moved by the community of people who continue to help me to find meaning in my life. I am on my journey and – as JP Tamblyn-Sabo would say – I am “working toward” paving my own path.
My thoughts for the day.
Have a great one!Share