Crisis Meets Opportunity
What can be more traumatic than addiction? To become aware of being out of behavioral control and attached to a substance and or process to the point of sheer destruction of one’s life? Sounds pretty scary – Not to mention the “ripple effect” of such a crisis, on others connected to the individual, family, workplace, etc. This can make for a highly complex issue leaving people feeling confused, overwhelmed and powerless. However, whether we are dealing with addiction, depression, pain issues or the like, deep within the situation there is a way through it – solutions, and a gem of opportunity waiting to be discovered.
The Chinese have been aware of this phenomenon for thousands of years. In Chinese the word for crisis consists of two characters: one meaning danger, and one meaning opportunity. Why? Because crisis always feels dangerous and can indeed be dangerous. However, it is often our response to sudden or unwanted events which impact outcomes and the future; but that can be tough to see in the moment when paralyzed by fear. Our fear of danger may be necessary for self-protection in some cases, but can distract us and impair our ability to see through presenting situations and identify important information and solutions. We often miss themes and patterns that are embedded in such circumstances which are clamoring for our attention and trying to provide guidance for us to find our way. Hence, the interpretation of the Chinese proverb also says that it is the rare person who can see the opportunity within a crisis.
In talking health and wellness, we need to recognize that our symptoms are messages communicating our needs, fears and wants. As a trusted mentor once said, “It is easy for human beings to mislabel experiences as symptoms.” It is natural to not want to be uncomfortable and when we do feel uncomfortable we may be apt to view our unwanted experiences as symptoms to be cured. But, when this type of thinking occurs, we miss the learning and information we need to create more productive conditions to move forward, to learn about ourselves and our needs.
Healing vs. Cure
“When am I going to feel better?” “When are things going to change?” These are questions most of us ask when we are uncomfortable or when life presents us with an illness, disability, or loss – some sort of crisis that we did not ask for that for but came our way. There are times in life when we want change and often need change to happen in order to establish or restore well-being. However, as adults who have been around a while, perhaps we know that change is a process not an event. That there is no real “cure” to our problems or conditions – But, our desire for things to be fixed can keep us searching for immediate solutions and attached to false expectations, reinforcing and prolonging our discomfort.
Although “cure” is intermingled in the definition of healing, healing means something very different than merely “curing” or eradicating illness or disease, but restoring to balance, repairing, and returning to soundness. Healing often has more to do with emotions and a sense of safety; fostered by self- respect and control, and having positive people and conditions in one’s life. Healing requires the deeper work of change involving reflection, self-examination and acceptance of what was and is. This type of settlement prepares the foreground for health and life-long well-being, the type of inner comfort and satisfaction that most of us long for and see in others who we deem “enlightened,” but often do not know how to attain for ourselves. Healing is necessary for any lasting change to take place.
Forbearance and Resulting Gifts
Forbearance is a form of patience – tolerance or self-control, especially in not responding to provocation. Forbearance requires refraining from action: the fact of deliberately not doing or saying something when you could do or say it. This is not the same as shutting down or repressing one self, but consciously choosing to suppress action in favor of the overall good of the situation. Forbearance is necessary in life and a quality that comes with maturity and wisdom. As we get older we often come to see that we have little control over many things that happen, and that we need to find other ways to cope which go beyond “grinning and baring” or resisting and pushing through circumstances. Through forbearance we often learn more about ourselves and the process of life.
Forbearance is another learning that sounds simple but is not easy! But it is worth developing as we learn to understand ourselves, our behavior patterns, assumptions, and motivations. We also learn about others, and the overarching process of how things work in the world and how the pieces come together in their own timing. This helps with learning to be more relaxed and present in the moment and not be over-focused on the future at the expense of living more fully right now. We also learn to be more patient and accepting of ourselves and others, and be the kind of people with whom others feel safe and enjoy spending time. And, of course, our efforts and goals have more opportunity to be completed.