Following my first article I received a few emails with some exciting comments that told me I had "hit the spot" for a few readers. It appears there are many people challenged every day with some form of suffering who have also personalized the circumstances and started living the wrap-around story instead of the depersonalized event. I am very pleased if I am able to help even a single person with my articles, so it was a joy to receive these emails. Thank you.
One of the beautiful things in this blessed life is that we are constantly learning, experiencing and changing as a result of those experiences. However, it is not just the nice, fun experiences that have the effect of change. The same is also very true with bad experiences and suffering. Regardless of whether you prepare and personalize suffering or not, there is always a subconscious and invisible change that occurs. This change occurs deep within our own self, the core of what makes us the individuals we are.
Often the changes that occur within us as a consequence of suffering are the hardest to see, understand and critically accept. There is no hard and fast rule on how someone may change, or the degree of change based on the scale of suffering. There is no clear guidance on what to look out for or any telltale signs. Also, there is no easy way to know when you will recognize and be faced with this change. But sure enough, from the moment that you experience suffering, you are changing.
Prior to what I would call any extreme suffering in my life, I was a very focused individual, goal-orientated and determined to succeed. I worked very hard and fortunately had a degree of success in my working life and also had a great personal life. At that time, I had not even considered my dad would die, let alone so young (he was 58), so it had not even occurred to me to prepare for such an event. Sure enough, when it happened, I changed. What I experienced was an overwhelming sense of responsibility that I had to look after my sister and mum. Even though we had not lived together for years, I suddenly felt I had to work harder, do more, be stronger so I could provide whatever was possible for them.
Some would say this was a great change, an easy change. Just moving up a gear, and to some extent it was easy. I became more focused, even harder working, more determined, and with more success I became more confident. In my opinion, I was "cooking on gas" and providing for my diminished family.
A little over three years later, my younger sister Debbie was killed in a car accident -- she was only 27 years old. By total and complete contrast, I fell apart. The change that instantly occurred in me was debilitating. I was no longer driven, focused and confident. I became somewhat of a recluse, only spending time with people who either knew of my situation or knew my sister. The only strength I felt I had was with that inner sanctum of supportive people.
How could I go from an outgoing, self-assured person to who I became? I started reacting differently to situations compared to how I knew I would have reacted before. I had new or previously unregistered feelings and emotions running through body and brain. Even the way I thought was different. I was the same person on the outside, and even though I knew the old me and totally understood and accepted how I used to be, I could no longer function like that, or think like that. It is safe to say I didn't recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror. As dramatic as it sounds, two people died that day: my sister and the old me.
I started to spend more time grieving over the loss of my old self rather than my sister not being there anymore. I was wasting time thinking about what had happened to me rather than thinking about and grieving over my sister. This repetitive cycle of searching and not finding the old me continued for weeks and weeks until one day, I realized what I was doing. I realized that this was a fruitless exercise and for me to move on, I had to accept the changes. I had to "meet the new me."
Meeting the new me turned into a wonderful experience with a very positive outcome from an otherwise negative event. I was forced to approach each and every day with an open mind as I didn't really know how I would react. I now use this experience and the knowledge gained when I work with my corporate clients as well as my private clients. It is perhaps the one stage of my sessions and workshops that has helped the most people the most dramatically!
It does not matter what the event is that occurs -- you will change. If you experience the same or very similar events more than once, you will react and change differently each time. Just as my experience and change was different when my father passed away compared to when my sister died.
No matter the scale of event or suffering, change within your own self will occur. If your job is changing at work, you will also be affected by that change. It could be you will work with other people, at a different desk or even doing a totally new job. Whatever the result of the job change, you as an individual will also change. If you are moving house, you will more than likely start thinking and feeling different things compared to when you lived in your old house. You will meet new neighbors and friends who will all create a change within you, however slight. If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness or lose a loved one, as I did, there will be change.
The key is to know, really know, that you will change. Don't be afraid of that change. Accept that change. And most importantly, have fun getting to know the new you!
I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or send me an email at craig(at)craiging.com.