No matter how many years you may stare yourself in the face, work through endless therapy sessions and so forth, you can always find an unknown, untapped reservoir of pain in your heart. When we find ourselves stuck and weeping and not knowing why, we have stumbled on one of those reservoirs. To heal now, we have to explore the burning lake and learn its landscape. We have to understand what lit the fire somewhere in our past and discover what current phenomenon reignited it. You can’t do this from a distance with a telescope. You have to brave the flames and get close enough to find answers.
Here’s the thing, our parents and caregivers did not intend to rob us or hurt us, so let go of that. They were living out their own problems and we happened to be there at the time. We may have done the same to our children and to others without realizing it. Yes, there are those who enjoy inflicting pain, but inevitably they were first the recipients of that kind of pain. Hell isn’t a destination, it’s a state of mind, and we have the power to eliminate that suffering in our own lives by discovering the source and stopping its flow.
Start by asking what the one thing was that you needed as a child and never got (or never got enough of). That’s a tough question because it requires revisiting the pains of our most vulnerable years instead of trying to avoid them. The need might be for kindness, or approval, or love, or parenting, or acceptance, or roots, or all of those things. Now look at what is blocking the view today, where the tears are coming from. At first there may appear to be no connection, so think of the situations in your life where you were happiest and most fulfilled: what did you have then that you do not have now?
As a child, I was considered so brilliant that I shouldn’t need anyone to help me succeed. I had instructors, but it was up to me to figure out how to implement those teachings. For a little while, I had a close cousin as a partner I could relate to; but that ended when I was eight. I needed mentors and partners in my childhood, but I had only role models. I realized the painful depths of that need recently when I also recognized that the two happiest and most productive times of my life were when I had a boss, who also happened to be my mentor. With those two, I could safely make mistakes, brainstorm, question, and be applauded as a partner in their efforts. I could commit to my objectives with joy, knowing someone had my back.
Does that mean I need someone to hold my hand through life? No, but it means I’m unsuited to working in an ivory tower vacuum. I need people contact, partnerships, a cheering section, agile minds to share ideas and common goals with. That knowledge allows me to change directions when needed, because I know what I’m looking for and what is not a suitable destination. My reservoir of pain led to new awareness and understanding of myself and the road map I need for growth. Now I can figure out what to pack for the next journey.