Life is not always easy. It’s almost never easy, or at least it feels that way. The thing here is that we mostly hide our suffering from other people. Only we know the exact location of our wounds and how vulnerable we are to them. Only we can heal it by picking up each of the broken pieces and becoming stronger. Bravery and suffering go together. While it is one of the hardest things to go through, when we have an experience that breaks us inside, it is also an opportunity. It gives us the opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate how we understand the world so that over time we can rebuild ourselves. The question here is how can we do this?
“If we cannot change the situation we are facing, the challenge is to change ourselves.”
The weight of suffering
Nobody is safe from suffering. It is the strange guest who interrupts us from time to time in our life without warning or invitation. And while we usually try to run away from it or hide it in the deepest basement and pretend it isn’t there, we can’t stop it from affecting us. It exercises its power even from the dark cellar into which we have banished it. And we may not even be aware of its influence because the darkness makes it difficult for us to foresee it or to follow its movements.
The more time suffering remains in the shadows, the more power it has over us.
Some people hide their negative feelings behind a fake smile. Other people fill their days with activities so they don’t have free time to think too much. Others lie to themselves by trying to put a band-aid on their discomfort. We have all done something like this, whether it is something that rarely happens or whether it has already become a habit.
The problem with this is that sooner or later the suffering will surface, no matter what barriers we build against it. The consequences can be physical pain or emotional pain.
Suffering as part of life
Suffering is a part of life whether we like it or not. The danger is when it becomes so difficult and prolonged and when it takes on so many forms that it becomes a lifestyle. It obscures everything around us and makes it appear dark gray, even almost black.
In fact, most of the suffering we feel (not all) comes from painful experiences. It arises, for example, when we cannot get over the loss of something or someone we love. We do not accept the loss. Instead, we fight back and try our best to change things. When we do this, we are causing ourselves to suffer without our realizing it. This suffering is pain but at the same time it is a protection from the rain, which begins to fall in the midst of our sorrow and which soaks us to the bone with sadness.
The death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the betrayal of a friend, or losing one’s job are examples of loss that causes pain and suffering. It feels like someone stabbed us right in the heart. These are wounds that never stop bleeding if we don’t take care of them. They can turn into broken pieces that are difficult to put back together.
A resilient twilight
While it is true that some people develop disorders or real problems caused by their suffering, it is not the order of the day for this to happen. Some people are even able to come out of their traumatic experiences stronger than before. They are experiences that cause them pain, but that also help them grow. In some way they are able to benefit from their experience.
A study by Wortman and Silver confirms that there are people who stand up to the blows of life with unexpected strength. The reason for this is their resilience. Resilience enables them to keep their balance and avoid being too shaken by the trauma and pain in their daily life. It makes us believe that we are stronger than we think. That even when we lose our strength there is still a tiny ray of light. It illuminates our path so that we can pick up the broken pieces and rebuild ourselves. This is the dawn of our resilience. It is precisely the moment when our worries and the weight of our suffering give way to the healing power of our strength. It enables us to resist and rebuild ourselves.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming that suffering.”
Instead of ignoring what we are feeling, we should accept it as a life lesson and go through it with open eyes. We may have to get used to it, just like trying to see in the dark. Even when life knocks us down and almost breaks us, the ability to feel strong helps us overcome what we are going through. With this ability we can put our selves back together by picking up our broken pieces one by one.
Pick up the broken pieces to rebuild ourselves
It’s resilience, one of the most beautiful skills and something they should teach us in school. We should learn how to heal our wounds, treat them with love, and learn the best possible lesson from them. But how can we do this?
As we have seen, it is possible to bloom again after a storm, but it is not easy. It is a complex and dynamic process that, according to the psychiatrist Boris Cyrulniks, involves not only personal development, but also the process of structuring a person’s life story. There are a few factors we can develop to increase our resilience and which will help us pick up our broken pieces.
Some of these factors are the following:
- Confidence and our ability to deal with confrontations
- Accept our emotions and feelings.
- To have a meaningful purpose for our life.
- To believe that we can learn from both negative and positive experiences.
- To have a network that supports you.
Suffering and pain change us
In addition, Calhoun and Tedeschi, two of the authors who have done the most research on post-traumatic growth, emphasize that suffering and pain change us, not only on an individual level, but also in our relationships and in our philosophy of life.
Confronting our painful experiences is frightening, but running away from them prolongs our suffering. If we avoid them, then it can cause them to mutate in a dangerous way. Real courage means that you keep going even though you are afraid. You keep going forward even though your body is shaking and falling to pieces inside.
We need time in life to process our experiences and to be alone with our suffering. In these lonely moments we are able to understand it. We learn that the important thing here is to go further, whether we take big or small steps. The strongest person is not the one who never falls, but the one who can get up and walk on, and is even stronger because of the fall.