“Life is unfair.” A common thought I have had for a long long time. Here is why:
I felt that good people were not being rewarded and the bad were not being punished. Needless to say, I believed I was one of the good people who was not always rewarded for my ‘goodness’ whereas those whom I saw as being completely morally bankrupt were thriving. It took me a long time to recognize this as the root cause of my pain and even longer to heal from it.
As I tell my clients often, you cannot fix something if you cannot identify what is wrong and even when you find the problem, you still have to fix it. Finding the problem is the first step in the healing process and not the solution to your pain. Just because you now know what is wrong does not mean you can magically fix it. I have met several clients in my journey as a Coach who have abandoned their healing process at the first sign of success. I hope they are doing well.
I write this today to share a bit of my healing journey which started 7 years ago and is still in progress. I find myself in a space today that I did not know existed. I had read about it in books but it felt more like the imagination of a gifted author than the truth. The inspiring words like rising like a phoenix after you hit rock bottom, trusting your inner voice, chasing your dreams no matter how big they are, and miraculously healing from trauma, all seemed impossible to achieve. Therefore, finding myself in the space where I now see how true it all is, gives me nothing but gratitude for not giving up.
I feel joy and gratitude, not anger, resentment, confusion, pain, sadness, guilt or shame. The way I used to see things changed because I decided to choose to chase joy. It’s not that I don’t feel those negative emotions from time to time but just that they do not control me the way they used to. I no longer spiral deep down into a black hole of negativity. I can now feel negative emotions and ‘DECIDE’ if they can take up space within me. I know it sounds crazy and too good to be true even to me but it is true. I no longer feel the need to be angry, hurtful to myself or others, guilty or unforgiving longer than I have to. Here is why.
What is the point of feeling all those negative emotions and not doing anything about it? Let’s say that I feel that someone betrayed me because of which I feel pain, anger and hatred
BUT I continue to love that person and still want the relationship. Will the negative emotions allow me to enjoy my relationship? I have lost too many years living with negative emotions for no reason, and I now know that when I am feeling these negative emotions, I cannot feel joy, I cannot be loving, I cannot enjoy my life, I cannot stop myself from saying negative things to others. Therefore,
I now realize that I cannot have both : joy and pain. So, I decided to choose joy. Not short-term joy but long-term joy.
Long-term joy sometimes requires short-term pain. This means you have to give up temporary pleasures to do what you know is good for you in the long-term. Because joy is not the same as pleasure.
Examples of this are:
1. Study hard now and give up temporary distractions to pass an exam that leads to a career you really want.
2. Heal from trauma accepting it may be uncomfortable and painful in the short term but will lead to a healthier and happier life once you have healed.
3. Walk away from toxic relationships no matter how much you love the person who is causing you so much pain.
Temporary pleasures that lead to long-term pain are just illusions. Every choice we make, no matter how small, has consequences. My life, therefore, was a result of all my choices and the pain I was feeling was also because of my choices.
So, I decided: 1) to make the choices that will bring me joy; 2) to choose temporary discomfort if necessary, as long as it leads me to the life I want to live; 3) to reject negative thoughts by not allowing them space in my mind; 4) to find new positive perspectives even when my mind is enveloped in darkness; 5) to heal even when all I want to do is be destructive either to others or myself.
There is so much unavoidable pain in the world that can come your way through no fault of yours such as losing a loved one or a natural disaster or a pandemic. So, I am not saying I can avoid pain and feel positive all the time. What I am saying is I can sit with my pain and allow myself time to heal from it rather than make choices to destroy myself even more with my negative thoughts. I choose joy and that fills me with gratitude for choosing to be hopeful rather than resentful, be peaceful rather than angry and be healthy rather than helpless.
I was once asked in an interview: “What is your superpower?” I automatically responded, “I never give up”! I am here today because I did not give up even when I could see no reason to believe I could ever heal. But here I am, choosing joy, excited to explore what life has in store for me and thankful for doing the work even when all I wanted to do was give up. I hope you make the choice to always believe that no matter how dark your life feels right now, there is always light. You just have to find it.
Until next time,
Kanchan ‘chasing joy’ Kulkarni