Why you should stop searching for meaning

Written by Varouna Baroud on Thursday, 02 November 2017. Posted in Inspirational

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Acceptance is control

“ Once you stop searching, you will be the first one to find it”

This catchy line from a song from a Dutch sing and songwriter reminded me of a story I heard in a meditation course:

One day a wise and respected elderly woman from a small town in India was looking for something in the street in front of her house. The townspeople approached her and asked the lady, that they called auntie, what she was looking for. “I lost my needle” Aunti responded. “ But Aunti…the street is so long, a needle so small, soon it will be dark, you need to specify where you lost it, so we can help you find it." the townspeople asked. “Inside my house,” Aunti said smilingly. The crowd sighed, could this be old age setting in?  “If the needle was lost in your house, why are you looking for it on the street?” They asked warily. “Simple", Aunti explained: " Because there is light here and not in my house”. The townspeople now were convinced Aunti had lost the plot ... ”But how can you find the needle here if you didn’t lose it here? You are better off getting a lamp and start searching inside your home”

In that moment, the wise lady looked up and smiled: “So you have that wisdom when it comes to these simple things. But why don’t you use this wisdom on yourself? When it comes to finding your spirit, you turn to finding happiness in the external world. But is that where you have lost it?”

Don't most of us have that tendency? To look for a replacement of what we lose outside of ourselves. When we feel the pain of a failed opportunity, lost love or an unfulfilled longing, we naturally want to make that pain go away.

When you are younger you often turn to going out: bright lights, loud music, big groups of people will blast out those nasty feelings, if only for a moment. But once you are over 30 and start to nid-nod after ten pm, you turn to different things: work, working out, sleeping, eating and binge-watching Netflix. All healthy behaviors on its own, but when you engage in them to hide from the pain, it becomes escapism.

pexels photo 247195Often this flight behavior also affects your internal behavior: overthinking, anxiety, overanalyzing, depression and living on auto-pilot by not trying to think at all.

I recently went through a rough period. I had a miscarriage. Although the pregnancy had been a bit of a surprise, it was a very welcome surprise. Unfortunately, before I was well and truly used to the idea I was going to be a mother, it was over. In the aftermath, my relationship also ended. From being on the verge of having it all: a partner, a home, a family, I suddenly had to start over, again.

Needless to say that hurt. But I wasn’t ready to accept that. I had been doing so well, I didn’t want to admit I had “Failed”. I buried myself in work and tried to move on. But inside I kept searching for meaning. Night after night I analyzed every moment: Why did this happen? Why did this happen to me? What could I have done differently? What is the bigger reason behind it all?" Taunting myself thoughts that did anything but cheer me up: What if this was my last chance of having a family?

Two months later I was getting worried that I still wasn’t  feeling any better. I was still sad. What was wrong? After all, I am a trainer so I talk about being positive, creating opportunities for yourself, achieving goals. Why couldn’t I solve this?  Feeling ashamed I was so affected by the loss, I avoided talking to anyone about it. It wasn’t until a wise friend of mine asked me why I couldn’t just be sad for a while I realized I had been asking the wrong questions.

Because why wouldn’t you be sad after an experience of loss. Why should there be an expiry date of pain?  Why wouldn’t it happen to me? Why wouldn’t I experience something that happens to so many women? Why would you only accept happiness as a natural part of life and see events like this as unnatural? Maybe the meaning of life is experiencing both happiness and pain because one can’t really exist without the other, right?

100503 BURKARD 2082I decided to lean into the pain, in bits at least. Accepted that sometimes you should stop looking for answers and start accepting that it just happened. I realized that when you stop avoiding, stop searching, you start being yourself again.

Knowing that it is ok to just be, that you can handle whatever is happening to you, is comforting. No matter how much you are hurting, at this moment you are ok. That thought offers some relief and peace of mind, even if it is just for a moment.

It might sound like a contradiction but often it is a fight to not fight and just be. But it really helps. Instead of wasting your energy on avoiding something that can’t be avoided forever, it gives you breathing room and space to focus on things that you do have control over. Things that also still matter. 

Pain simply can't be avoided but when accepted, you can learn to control it. And once you stop searching for an explanation, who knows what you will find...

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