Updated: Oct 11, 2022
A White Oak tree looks dead in the first few years of its life.
This is odd compared to other plants that seem to look alive from the moment it spurts out of the seed.
But there is a reason why this is.
In those initial crucial years, White Oak trees are expending all their energy on creating a deep and diverse root system.
Their survival is essentially dependent on their roots.
With a deep and strong root structure, they can withstand heavy winds, prevent soil erosion, and reach deep into the soil to find water and nutrients. A robust White Oak tree can stand the test of time because of its roots.
We, too, need strong roots when withstanding life's never-ending blows, but psychological roots.
What are psychological roots?
It's all of the life experiences that have given you life lessons.
However, psychological roots can only develop when we accept the painful parts of life. The positive aspects of life are not as eye-opening compared to the heartbreaking moments.
But the painful moments, that's where mankind gets his wisdom. As it is said in Aesuchlyus's play Agamemnon:
'Zeus, whose will has marked for man
The sole way where wisdom lies;
Ordered one eternal plan:
Man must suffer to be wise.'
Whereas only accepting the positive things in life without the negative is akin to ignoring reality. The painful parts of life are crucial to building an authentic life.
What else happens when you accept the painful parts?
In that process of building an authentic life, you realize that those problematic emotional turmoil days are the ones that make you stronger. Like those corny Instagram posts says, 'What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.'
But that's too corny for me.
Let's get a little more classical. Accepting all the pain in your life will naturally help you build a heroic mindset. Where you will not shy away from any obstacle in life.
All the pain makes you realize how much personal power you have. And that although you may feel pain, you will survive and can still move forward.
Another classical example
After the 10-year siege of Troy, Odysseus was able to get on his way home. But due to the gods, it took him another 10 years of turmoil and heartbreak to find his home. And he uttered the following words, which show the mindset I am talking about:
"....Yet, it is true, each day
I long for home, long for the sight of home.
If any god has marked me out again
for shipwreck, my tough heart can undergo it.
What hardship have I not long since endured
at sea, in battle! Let the trial come."
When we don't accept the pain in our lives, we are making ourselves fragile. We get caught up in the illusions of thinking everything should be in a specific (positive) way. And when those illusions shatter, it comes at the cost of the person's well-being.
We have to be honest with ourselves.
Life is tough, but that's no excuse not to see reality and accept it. Because when you receive it all with its pain, you will naturally become a beautiful mature person as well.
There is something about suffering that makes man appreciate life more earnestly. Where they understand poetry, love, and nobility. But let me find another person who can put this in words better than me:
"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." - Elisabeth Kübler Ross.
The beautiful people Elisabeth describes are rare because not too many people want to come out of all those suffering. Yet, they end up suffering more since they don't want to embrace the pain.
As the saying goes that the only way to escape hell is to go through it.
Countless stories and literature have the protagonists go through hell only to become wiser, mature, and heroic. And it reminds us that we must go through our personal hells to fulfill our potential as human beings.
However, how do we accept the pain?
Just like I said moments ago, we have to go through hell. And with pain, we have to let the pain go through us without distractions. When we feel uncomfortable emotions/pain, we have to feel it in our bodies. And if you've been running away from the pain for a while, this might be hard. But I have a particular method given to me by my therapist years ago.
It's called the RAIN method.
You can click on the link, but here is the cliff's note version.
Recognize the uncomfortable emotion.
Accept and acknowledge the emotion.
Investigate the inner experience of the emotion.
Non-identifying with the feelings means you won't let these feelings define you.
The more you do the RAIN method, the less the pain affects you. It's like getting your reps in, which gets easier over time.
And even though this might get easier with time, don't forget to reflect on the pain and try to see what the lesson is. Because this is where you will find those hidden gems of wisdom that will help your life.
This is what makes the pain worth it in the end.
On top of all that, remember to accept full responsibility for life. When we realize our power in our lives, we must also acknowledge responsibility. When you understand this, you will avoid making the same mistakes that brought on so much pain. So as you move forward in life, you will make wiser decisions and prevent errors from a mile away. Yet, some might think going through the pain is not worth the trouble.
What if these are too painful for you to handle face-on?
I understand the reservations. Who wants to suffer, especially willingly? It seems better to get a band-aid solution and move on with as little pain as possible.
But here's the thing, sooner or later, we will suffer in life. And it's better to be heroic and accept the pains that come in life.
The other option is passive suffering, which leads to a pathetic existence. Pathetic suffering is when people refuse to admit the pain in their lives but still get hurt. Which is doubly painful. Because they feel the delayed pain more intensely.
In the short term, things look OK.
But slowly, over time, the pain accumulates and overwhelms the person. And in some cases, it destroys the person.
A prime example is Willy Loman.
Willy Loman is the protagonist in The Death of a Salesman. Willy is 63 years old and still believes in the American dream. If he works hard and smiles, he will come away. However, times have changed, and those things no longer lead to success. But Willy refuses to believe in this change. He can't accept the pain that times are different and that he is no longer as valuable as he thought.
So he ignores the pain and lives through his illusions.
Until reality's pain becomes so overwhelming he has to kill himself.
On the other hand, we have Oedipus Rex.
As most of us know, this man unknowingly killed his father and married his mother. When he realizes the truth, Oedipus accepts it and exiles himself away from civilization.
In the eyes of his people, he is a detestable creature.
Oedipus accepts the reality of his painful existence. He doesn't shy away and bears all the burdens that come with it.
Not gonna lie; it's hard not to feel bad for Oedipus.
But Oedipus is noble for accepting his life. And at the end of his life, he is redeemed by the gods and finds his place with them.
Not to get too philosophical.
But what makes Oedipus noble and Willy pathetic is that one accepts the pain of life, and the other ignores it.
I'm sure you can think of personal examples.
Where you know people who have character and others who are disillusioned cornballs.
And if I'm being honest, it doesn't take much to become a disillusioned cornball when we make this one mistake in accepting pain.
Unknowingly running away from the pain.
When we learn the value of pain, it's easy to feel enthusiastic. Where we tell Life to bring it on. But when shit gets real and the pain sets in, we can unconsciously inhibit the painful feelings.
By us using any form of distraction when the pain sets in. Sometimes these habits are so ingrained in us that we don't even know.
For example, it's like how people go on their phones when they are by themselves in a crowd. Because they don't want to feel the awkward tension of being alone and not knowing anybody.
Well, the same happens to us in our own ways.
When pain or some uncomfortable emotion sets in, then we either do one of the following:
Aimlessly browse the internet.
Game for hours
Consume pointless content
I'm sure there is more, but each person has a way of inhibiting themselves. So we must be a little more diligent when we feel uncomfortable. Instead of letting ourselves interfere with the feelings, we must be conscious of handling them.
It will be challenging at first, but it's achievable. Just as achievable as wrapping this article up.
To develop psychological roots, we need to accept the painful parts of life.
The painful parts of life are crucial to our growth and maturity, as it teaches us life lessons.
Another thing that happens when you accept pain in life is developing a heroic mindset and becoming a beautiful mature person.
To accept pain, you need to let the emotions go through you. And this can be done via the RAIN method.
Reflect and take full responsibility for your life to find the lessons from your pain.
Follow the example of Oedipus and not Willy Loman.
A common mistake is to unknowingly inhibit ourselves from pain. We must be self-aware to know how we inhibit ourselves to stop it and accept the uncomfortable feelings.
In the modern day, we tend to avoid pain.
Whether it's avoiding conflict, uncomfortable conversations etc. Yet those are the moments that give us growth, opportunities for courage, and so much more. Yet, when we ignore those painful moments, we stay stuck without our undeveloped selves.
Funny enough, looking at heroes from fiction and history.
They all had to go through their personal hell to reach their legendary status. And we can say that their psychological roots are just as deep as white oak's.
Until next time,
The Charismatic Nerd