Pain Is Like The Check Engine Light On Your Car
Cars possess the technology to tell us when it’s time for service. If you are smart and responsible, you will take heed and respond to the issue at hand. When our tank is on “E,” we know that more fuel is needed. Ignoring the warning will likely lead to being inconveniently stuck on the side of the road. If the check engine light is illuminated, it is an indication that something is not functioning properly, and failing to address this matter could result in a major expense.
People also have indicators that alert us to the need to retool, refuel, or replace the old with something new. Jogging in a shoe with little support can injure your knees, but if you retool with a proper shoe, the pain goes away. When you don’t eat all day, your thinking won’t be as clear as when you refuel with food. Our emotional bodies operate in the same way.
When it is time to grow into the next version of ourselves, we will be asked to let go of old ways of thinking or behaving. It can feel challenging to make this shift because we become comfortable and believe that our way has worked up until now – so why change it?
I have a friend who I will call Mae. Mae is like most of us. She followed a prescribed blueprint to success that included “Going to college, working hard, acquiring degrees, getting a “good job,” and making lots of money. My friend followed the checklist and did everything “right,” only to face mounds of debt and a period of unemployment. In Mae’s case, this emotionally trying experience turned out to be the beginning of what I will call a wilderness experience.
The Wilderness Experience…
A “wilderness experience” is a period in your life when you feel mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, relationally, and/or spiritually tested and fearful. This is the time when you clarify, redefine, and reprioritize what is most important as you are stripped of anything or anyone that is out of alignment. This is a season of preparation for something new that is oftentimes better, but in order to get there, you must surrender or be humbled.
My friend Mae is not a materialistic person, but like all of us, she wanted to hold on to what she had worked hard work for. As she faced financial distress, she tried everything to make more money to make ends meet. One day, her neighbor asked her to come and clean her baseboards in exchange for pay. Mae was initially a little offended by the request. However, she liked her neighbor and knew she was terminally ill. This woman had taken great care to ensure her home was always clean — that is, up until the time that she became sick.
Mae agreed to serve her neighbor, but when she began cleaning, several thoughts surfaced:
- “I have multiple degrees, why am I cleaning for money?”
- “What will others say about me?”
- “Is this worth the humiliation?”
As previously mentioned, Mae is not a materialistic person in the traditional sense, but each of these thoughts are material because they are driven by the ego and external validation (i.e., image, perceptions, status, titles, feeling separate and apart from other human beings, etc.). As Mae became aware of her thoughts, she recognized them as painful indicators of beliefs that were out of alignment with who she knows herself to be. She was being stripped and humbled through this experience of cleaning baseboards. This awareness and commitment to serve caused her to shift her perspective. She began cleaning as if she were scrubbing away her own dirt. The more she cleaned, the lighter she felt. She completed the task and the neighbor happily paid her for a job well done. Little did the woman know that she had given Mae something much more valuable than cash. She had given her a new lease on life. It was after that experience that Mae was able to come up with creative ways to stretch her money and tap into unused resources.
What I’ve Learned…
I’ve learned that it is our darkest moments that offer the greatest opportunity for us to be of service and to be served. Life’s challenges are not here to harm us or to cause pain. We create the pain through our resistance. Every experience is designed to teach us something valuable about ourselves. If we look and listen with the intention to “inner-stand,” we will willingly exchange despair, arrogance, and judgment for the sweet taste of gratitude.
If you have found yourself in the wilderness experience and want to find a life coach who can help you get to a better place in life, sign up for professional coaching sessions with Tracey Knight. Get a head start by figuring out where you are in your life with this WHEEL OF LIFE download.
July 7, 2019