“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” — Aeschylus
Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is about learning and growth. Look back over your life for a few minutes today. Think about the time you grew the most, learned the most, or made a life-changing decision. I bet these were times of great pain and suffering.
I don’t know why, but these times, although unendurable at the time, are the times we grow the most. The point this quote makes is that it is impossible to grow or learn when things are easy. When things are easy, the human mind likes to live in its repetitiveness. Why change? Everything is wired, and the brain loves repetition. Then–BAM!! You get blindsided.
The blindside could be a financial problem, a friend or loved one that betrays you, your job goes away, or any number of disasters. Immediately you go into “scramble mode”. At these times of high stress and trouble we become very creative. We reach out to friends, we read, we do Internet searches, anything we can to find potential solutions to our pain. It is these times that we truly grow.
We learn the things we did or didn’t do that caused our problem. Sometimes we learn that the things we just lost weren’t that important to begin with. Maybe the relationship you were in was on its way out months or even years ago and you’ve held onto it, even though in your “heart of hearts” you knew it wasn’t working for you or them and neither of you could drum up the courage to end it. Maybe you lose your job, again, knowing the company was having financial problems and ignoring the signs. You see, we ignore these signals because our brains want things to stay the way we are. As human beings, we just don’t like change, even though some changes are needed. We just let things go to maintain the status quo, only to discover that they will change anyway—normally at the worst time possible.
None of us want pain in our lives. None of us want change, but life tends to have a way of forcing change, even if we don’t want it. We get sick because we don’t want to change our diet or exercise. We get blindsided by a layoff when we knew we should have started looking for a new job months ago. We knew our significant other wasn’t really into us anymore but stuck around, anyway.
The pain we suffer results from our attachment to the status quo. We like things the way they are and we don’t want them to change, even if the change is happening right before our eyes. So why not make the change ahead of time? It’s hard. We are so good at telling ourselves lies and procrastinating. So what do we do?
The only advice I can give is to be decisive, ask the hard questions, learn what the right thing is and do it. You know when you’re putting on weight, your job isn’t working out, or even a relationship that isn’t fulfilling anymore. You feel it in your bones. You just know. We all have this intuition. We also get warning signs in advance of a real disaster.
These warning signs normally start out as gut feelings. Something isn’t right, but you can’t put your finger on it. Then they elevate. They become more blatant. Now you know something isn’t right but you still avoid doing something. Then, it’s a baseball bat to the head or a kick in the gut. You guessed it. You got blindsided again.
Pay attention to these intuitions. They are not crazy or paranoid. We all get them. It’s important to act on these intuitions, even if it is just looking for more information to test them out. Do not ignore them. I’ve learned this hard lesson so many times and it took so many disasters before I woke up and figured it out.
Now I pay attention to all of them. If something happens that doesn’t make sense or I get the feeling that something is going sideways, I immediately begin digging and looking to verify whether this is something real or my imagination is just overactive. More times than not, the intuition is right. By acting on these intuitions we can avoid a lot of pain and suffering. Being blindsided is no fun. It is better to avoid bad situations by circumventing them now instead of letting them fester.
Well, that’s it for today, folks. I hope all of you have a terrific Wednesday.
Until next time…