The blanket weighs heavy on me, and my body is increasingly more sweaty. The memory of the last few hours of my day is fresh within my mind. I feel that my body is protesting against the pressure I put on myself. Although it’s just a regular Sunday, the past few hours felt like a burden. The kind in which you are so far away from the reality that you can’t seem to enjoy what’s right in front of you. My family is sitting around the table, and the food looks delicious, but I don’t seem to be taking in any of it. It’s at these moments you most desperately want to break free from the pressure or self-inflicted suffering you are experiencing. But you can’t seem to do it, because your need and desire to get rid of the suffering only makes it worse.
Whether you are suffering from trauma, anxiety because of school or work, the pressure you put on yourself, self-doubt, or any other form of suffering we all want out. We all want a VIP pass to skip the line in front of the gates that lead to inner freedom. We try to find our way around the waiting line, but there is no way around it. We then get back to the beginning of the line and only find ourselves further away from the gates. The waiting line has increased in length. The first thought that crosses our mind is “why is this happening to me?”.
Which is the entire reason why the line doesn’t seem to shorten, and we will never reach the gates of inner freedom.
After every horrifying life-changing event that very same question popped up in my mind. “Why is this happening to me? Why?” Whether that was after the death of loved ones, during stressful periods in college, or after the recent breakup with my past love. All events broke me down, and most of you have similar experiences. We all have moments of suffering in our lives, ranging from all different things. Both big, like childhood traumas inflicted on you by parents or others, too small things like the stress you feel when you don’t know where you left your keys. These are moments or periods in our lives that are unpleasant to go through. Often we ask ourselves “Why? Why does this have to happen?”
We are creatures that want to know the reason for things. We want to know what’s behind it all. We strive to find out the beginning of this planet if there is a God entity, or how the Corona Virus got out into the world. We are reason-seeking creatures. We do the same to our traumas and suffering. We ask ourselves why. Why does this have to happen? Or why is this happening to me? We want to find a reason for it, hoping that it will magically lighten up the suffering we are going through. We want to have an answer to that question, we want to know who’s responsible for the suffering. And there is always someone responsible, the question is, does it change anything about our suffering? Does it change our lives for the better if we know why something happened? Are we better off knowing that we or someone else is responsible for our suffering?
I have asked myself many times, why I and my past love had to break up. There were many answers to it. Yet none of the answers ever seemed to improve the quality of my life. The same goes for last Sunday when I felt completely overwhelmed by the anxiety and fear of never making a living from writing. I asked myself why I felt that way, why I was feeling anxious and fearful. I came up with many answers to the same question, hoping that they would lighten up the suffering I was going through internally. None of the answers changed anything. None of them shortened the line in front of the gates of inner freedom. Until…
Asking ourselves why things happen might give us a short boost of confidence and a feeling of having solved the problem. Yet knowing the reason for our suffering, traumas, anxieties, or stressors is only a small percentage of what’s needed for real life-transforming change. Knowing the reason behind something will not magically change our lives, and make us free from our inner suffering. Knowing why we are traumatized from our youth won’t change a thing, we oftentimes already know why we are traumatized, yet we keep on asking “why me?”. The answer to that question won’t awaken you, but there is a question that will.
It’s knowing what’s next that will change our lives. Asking ourselves “why me?” won’t do a thing for us. Asking ourselves: what now? Will change our lives. It’s a question that I picked up from the book The Gift by Edith Eger, who is a holocaust survivor. Not just a survivor, but a thriver. She completely turned around the horrifying and cruel harm that was done to her and healed herself for a cause far greater than herself. She has helped many patients with her psychiatry just like fellow Holocaust thriver Viktor L. Frankl has done. They both found such a simple approach that will drastically change your life.
It has only been a day now, but that simple practice of Edith Eger has already changed the way I view my life. Instead of asking, why am I feeling stressed, anxious, fearful? I ask myself, what now? What’s next? What can I do to change it? I know the reason behind my feelings, I’ve made sure to go over this reason hundreds of times, hoping it would change my life. But it never did, because knowing why something happens doesn’t take you out of victimhood. Asking yourself what now? will, and that is how both Edith and Viktor thrived from the traumas they had from the holocaust. Viktor explained in his book named Man’s Search for Meaning that the road out of suffering is through finding a purpose for it. Edith explained the same only with a question to ask yourself. “What now?” Both explanations suggest one thing, that we take responsibility and start to find meaning and solutions to what has been done to us.
What now? Is the road out of suffering, and into the empowerment of oneself. It isn’t a VIP pass to shortcut the line in front of the gates of inner freedom, but it will make you aware that the line you are waiting in is in your control. You are the one who can make it move. We don’t have to wait for some magical event to get out of suffering. We don’t need something drastic in order to change. All we need is to ask ourselves what now? What will I do to heal myself from the suffering, and not just that but how can I use this suffering for the better. These two go hand in hand.
Both Viktor and Edith have asked themselves that question, they healed their traumas of the holocaust and decided to use their experience and expertise to help others heal. They helped many people, from all different walks of life, up until this day through their books and psychiatric practices. They have helped me and will help you move past your victimizing belief that you need to find the reason for your suffering. You can change now, by asking yourself what now? What in this very moment can I do to make a change, even if it’s as small of a thing as breathing in and out consciously. Which I have found is my road through healing the fear I hold within me.
The Start of a Beautiful Life
I started breathing more consciously today, making sure that every time my anxiety and fear came up again I started to breathe in and out deliberately. I stopped asking myself why I was feeling this. Why it kept returning and instead made a conscious effort to change something about it and to find meaning in it. That realization has opened the gates to the beautiful life we can live. Ask yourself, dear reader, what now? What will you do now? Now you have almost reached the end of this story. What will you do, to heal your suffering? What will you do to make your suffering meaningful and worthwhile? What will you do to start living a beautiful life? Because that beautiful life won’t come to you, it’s within you already. Be present with the suffering, feel it, and let it go through you. But don’t strive to find the reason why it happened to you. That won’t change a thing.
To discover that all you need to know is that you can change something right now. By asking yourself what now? Your beautiful life is waiting for you. It’s within you. Making your heart fill with butterflies after reading this. We no longer need to suffer. We no longer need to be in pain or be a victim to our traumas. All we need is to see the meaning it can have for our lives. So what now? What now, will make you say at the end of your day, Today I Lived! I made the most of it.
Thanks for reading, I hope that you will change your now, and thrive from the suffering you’ve been enduring all this time. If you loved this content, and want to celebrate life and keep growing be sure to follow me on Instagram @today.i.lived or subscribe to the weekly newsletter I sent out. Which is called Rise With The Sun in which I each Sunday share three beautiful thoughts about the life we are living, so that you can start your week with a grateful and positive vibe. Join the newsletter at www.todayilived.com/rise/