There’s a lot of talk out there now a days on how to cultivate miracles to achieve a state of inner peace and blissfulness. I’m all for this beautiful way of existing in the world. Believe me, it changed my life and I can’t imagine NOT believing in miracles. However, positive thinking can become a problem when we use our “spiritual tools” to bypass the suffering and emotions that are beckoning to come through us. Instead of honoring the gifts that these emotions bring (yes, even suffering brings gifts), we slap an affirmation on top of it and think it’s all fine and dandy.
Let me tell you a little story…
Three years ago, I drove myself INSANE trying to avoid suffering. This small moment explains this concept, although I definitely experienced it in larger ways as well. Picture this: I was on a train coming back from the Hamptons during the 4th of July weekend. These trains are packed to the brim and I happened to get on one with no A/C. I was standing on the train and I was on my tippy toes because there wasn’t even enough room to put both of my feet down fully. I was sweaty and cramped. I was feeling angry, claustrophobic, anxious, nervous, tired, and angsty but I refused to let myself feel any of that because I thought of myself as spiritual. Anger? Spiritual people don’t angry, or so I thought at the time. So instead, I sang “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles in my head the whole ride home, pushing harder and harder to keep away the anger. It was exhausting, not to mention I was acting like a nutcase!
What I didn’t know then that I know now is that if I just feel whatever is coming up for me, even if it’s uncomfortable, I move through it way faster than I would if I tried to push the feeling down. And when I push it down, it gets stored in my body to come up at a later time. Better just deal with it now.
So here’s the plain truth that most coaches won’t tell you:
Your suffering? Your pain? It’s a really really good thing. (Tweet-worthy!)
“Through suffering, we often become aware that we were living an illusion we were not conscious of: the illusion that my Jaguar is me, that my marriage is me, that my full head of hair is me. And as long as we consider the illusion to be real, we will continue to suffer.” – Donald M. Epstein
If you suffer from negative body image, or you think your body isn’t good enough, you believe that your body is you.
Without suffering, you would never notice your inner self trying to tell you that your perspective, your belief, is no longer serving you.
Suffering is a sign that we need to shift our perspective in some way.
Suffering is information. There’s no need to get angry at your suffering. Your suffering is the gift. Through suffering comes transformation. Don’t deny yourself (or others) that gift.
How has suffering been a gift for you? Do you believe that suffering can be a good thing?
** If you are suffering right now, I highly suggest reaching out to a trained professional (therapist or coach) to hold your hand as you walk through it. I have worked with an incredibly loving and skilled therapist the past 2.5 years and I know that without her, I’d still be trying to sing “All You Need Is Love” every time I felt anything. In doing so, I was missing out on the richness of life and am now able to live, teach, and coach with depth and integrity.
Alison Leipzig is a Body Confidence Coach who has been featured in Lucky Magazine, The Today Show, ABC’s The Chew, and Huffington Post Live. Alison inspires women to own and love their unique body and selves so that they can step into the world with confidence and create the lives that they truly desire. She believes that our bodies are our greatest teachers and that listening and trusting their messages allows for a deeper connection with oneself, which ultimately leads to the confidence and joy us women are craving. Connect with Alison on Facebook and Twitter.