Have gratitude for new beginnings

Can we still be human if we don’t fear suffering given that this is natural to being human?

That suffering is part of life is “natural” to use your words.

However, how we respond to this suffering is a choice, by either using our inner capacity of thinking things through and finding inner solutions guided by our natural capacity for wisdom or not.

This is natural to us, this intrinsic wisdom which we can access at any time, it’s right here within us, free and accessible at all times to help us deal with our life experiences.

But we tend to get attached to having everlasting and unending pleasure in the outside world, wanting and desiring things and people, comparing ourselves to others, worrying about what others will think of us, worrying about what may or may not happen, fearing for our future and the list goes
on.

This is unnecessary suffering and sadly our society conditions us to do this and perpetuates our anxiety related to our deep seated need for love, connection, safety and belonging.

However, each day and each moment things are changing and are impermanent and our ego does not like this, it wants things to stay the same, be comfortable, warm and cozy.

And when it’s not, we panic and resort to defences and addictions of all kinds to escape the pain or discomfort.

Yet in spite of all these paradoxical and contradictory life experiences that are inevitable for most if not all people, we have access to an abiding inner guidance and wisdom which will help us to deal with the challenges that are a natural part of life.

When we allow ourselves time to pause, be still and reflect, without judgement of right and wrong, good and bad something deeper is accessed which allows an awareness of solutions to our problems, including the acceptance of things that are unchangeable. Awareness of this inner knowledge and the stillness it engenders, even if for brief moments only, can shift our perspective on situations and how we feel about them and ourselves.

Thank you for the information on how to create more happiness in one’s life. I have been struggling with finding joy in my life, work and relationships. It has been a tough time since my divorce but I am starting to find joy again. However, it’s still very hard and I feel these changes with being divorced and alone again is not what I planned for my life at all. I think I am still agonising about it.

When there is an unexpected and dramatic change in an individual’s life, it is normal to feel hurt, betrayed, have a loss of interest and a sense of withdrawal from the world, for a while.

This is a human response as one mourns the loss of a dream.

However, we tend to make matters worse by fighting against what has happened, wanting to change things and situations that are unchangeable (usually others), wanting something that was previously there to come back and be the way it used to be.

We drive ourselves crazy by doing this and this exacerbates our anger, anxiety and fear of the future.

When we can allow ourselves time to mourn the end and later on, start to find meaning in the changes, including gratitude for new beginnings, however small, we can find an inner joy again. We can choose to be stuck in the past or choose to focus our energies on the now, on what is, and to find joy in the simple things that abound all around us.

We can decide to focus on what we do have, such as our health, a roof over our heads, and being surrounded by friends and/or family who care.

We can choose to connect to a source greater than ourselves, trusting that things will work out in the end; they always do, maybe not the way we want it to, but they do work out for our growth and spiritual awareness, if we are willing to be open to this.

Awakening and awareness is always a choice. This may be that you find a path that helps you to awaken, to open to life again, including developing a spiritual path which may include that you connect with yourself and with nature on a deeper level and not just take these things for granted but to know that this life is truly precious, fragile, short and amazing, warts and all.

As a Capetonian “coloured” person I have tried very hard to live with how South Africa has changed since the apartheid years. Discarding apartheid was necessary but now it seems things are far worse with all the social problems including drugs and gangsterism and all kinds of troubles today. I just feel like leaving this country but where to I don’t know. I don’t have the money either so I must find a way to live here, but it’s very hard to live with all this bad things going on. I feel afraid and not happy at all.

I think many people will identify with your experience and feelings about how matters are today.

For many it seems things have gotten worse and they want to “flee for safety”, however, there is an assumption or fantasy that the grass is greener on the other side.

Yes perhaps security issues are not as problematic in other parts of the world, maybe, we don’t know really but maybe there are other things that are worse.

I suppose again it’s about finding a way to live in the chaos and discomfort of the current South Africa and global world, and still find a sense of peace within yourself, in spite of social problems. This is always possible and is an option available to all of us.

I look at the Dalai Lama, an icon of peace, who under Chinese rule saw his people and culture almost completely destroyed in Tibet.

He had to flee and still, for safety reasons, cannot return to his country of birth.

I also think of Nelson Mandela who had to flee for safety and was imprisoned for decades, and during that time I believe his spirit was empowered to later become an icon of courage, hope and magnanimity to the world.

There is something about suffering that has the capacity, if we use it, to make us grow beyond imagination and to be selfless, and to connect with others knowing that we are all not separate but deeply connected, always.

Carin-Lee Masters is a clinical psychologist. Write to her at helpmecarin@inl.co.za Send a WhatsApp message or SMS to 082 264 7774.