People reach out to me as a therapist when they feel stuck. Something isn’t working. Something is wrong. I’m suffering. I’m in pain. My heart is broken. I feel so flat. Nothing seems to matter much to me any more. I want my life to change.
Now, if you’ve being hanging around on Planet Earth for a few years you’ll know by now that the path through life isn’t guaranteed to be a smooth one and life for many people often involves pain, suffering, disappointment and misery at some point or the other. Often on the way to our dream life we find that something goes wrong, something gets lost in translation and life doesn’t quite work out the way we thought it was meant to. We can’t control what happens to us (no matter how much New Age Positive Thinking we do). We can only control how we decide to respond to it. How we allow it to shape us or define us.
Often people tell me that they want something different in their lives to the reality of what is. And that is where their pain resides. It is the gap between what is actually happening and what they wish was happening. Trauma shapes the way we perceive the world around us, how we interpret social situations, how we translate events, and the narratives we create to keep ourselves safe. There are so many pieces to this puzzle of reality it is hard to know where to focus. And it is our focus that transforms our experience of reality.
Often we claim we want to transform our lives but transformation involves surrender, acceptance and a willingness to change our story about who we are, what we believe about ourselves and what we think about the world around us. We can’t demand that others change and expect not to do the work ourselves.
And yet, so often, what we say we want and what we are really open to are very different things. Caroline Myss wrote a wonderful article on this topic that made me nod my head in agreement as I read it. Click here to read it for yourself As usual, she nails it. So many of us claim we want to change but in reality? Our ego tries to control and limit – as egos so often do. “Dear God, Please change these things in my life, but only in ways that I won’t find too difficult or painful. Don’t make me look at my Shadow, my role in creating this situation or how I might be contributing to or perpetuating my own pain. Oh and please Dear God, make it all about other people and events and make sure that they change to make my life better.” Hmmm.
So do you REALLY want to transform your life? Are you REALLY ready to surrender? What are you willing to give up to undergo transformation? Your ego? Your point of view? Your need to be right? Your need to be a victim? Your need to be the hero? The rescuer? Any transformation worth its salt must involve change. It must also involve death. Yes death! Death of the old way of being, the old way of seeing, speaking, thinking, acting and the birth of the new. Ego death. There are many archetypal representations of this energy. One of my favourites is the Hindu Goddess Kali. Kali is one of many goddesses from ancient cultures that represent the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Kali is a demon-slayer. The goddess Durga is attempting to kill the demon Raktabija but with every wound she inflicts on him, more demons are spawning as his blood drips onto the ground. Kali comes to Durga’s aid, preventing the demon army from spawning by catching the drops of Raktabija’s blood on her lolling tongue before they are able to take root in the Earth and multiply. She brings an end to suffering by facing the enemy, preventing the negativity from taking root and multiplying. She slaughters the remaining demons and dances on their corpses. Only when Shiva lays himself beneath her feet can she shake off her destructive dance and become calm again.
Only when we are willing to engage with the determination and ferocity of the archtypal Kali to face our inner demons, and stop our repetitive negative “stinking thinking” (as they call it in the 12-step programme) can we begin our transformation. As author and teacher Tosha Silver writes, Kali is the embodiment of a ferocious love, a love of the Self, and a willingness to stand against the Ego’s games and take no prisoners!
My favourite authors on this topic:
And, of course, anything and everything by Caroline Myss!