"We are pain and what cures pain, both.
We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours." ~ Rumi
We all have our personal life themes—those really big, recurring issues that seem to repetitively insinuate themselves into our lives, forcing us to take yet another look. For some, this may revolve around the family of origin—problems with parents and siblings—not fitting in, not being appreciated, feeling misunderstood, or even feeling totally alienated from the family. For others, the key issue may be about financial and material success—never being able to “get out from under,” or feelings of never having enough, always wanting more but finding abundance elusive.
Problems with authority, or religious/spiritual conflicts and crises, may present as the main issue for some, while the search for a life partner or a significant committed relationship may be the driving force behind others’ lives. You can be sure that whatever your own life’s theme happens to be, it will continue to engage you, finding ways to be recognized and persisting until you get it.
Repetitive struggles with any of these can leave a person feeling like a victim, frustrated and unresolved. But if the lessons of these themes are understood and mastered, they are capable of helping to move you one step closer toward personal growth and empowerment. In the ideal world, a healthy individual has fully integrated all aspects of the self—mind, body, and spirit. Part of our life’s work is to aspire to and ultimately achieve this goal.
How you “see” the world
As we go through life just trying to figure things out, I’ve noticed that many of us inevitably, and more often than not unconsciously, choose one specific way to express ourselves in the world—a preferred way through which we engage and process our life themes.
For some, to think is to “know.” Here, life is filtered through the practical, logical, and analytical mind. Data is collected, deemed useful or not, collated, and finally integrated or tossed out. These individuals frequently spend a lot of time “living in their head.” Over-intellectualizing, however, has its dangers; oversimplification, rationalization, and rigidity of thought leave little room for an emotional and spiritual perspective.
For others, to feel is to “know.” The first line of communication with yourself and others is through the world of the emotions. Here, the feeling tone rather than the fact seems to count the most. But, exaggerated, sustained, high emotion can prove exhausting, and roller-coaster emotions can deplete us on every level as well.
For some, to move is to “know.” Our physical packaging, our bodies, may serve as the vehicle through which some individuals “feel,” how they best commune with the world around them. Because our physical body is noticed most immediately and most readily identifies us, perhaps too much emphasis has been placed on this aspect of expression. There is an unnatural preoccupation with working the “container,” attempting to reshape and fix our external appearances to create what is considered to be the ideal.
Perhaps, what all of us may be striving for lies in simply being, entering into a place where “to be”—just as you are, without judgment or agenda—is to “know.” But, of course, that’s so much easier said than done since to be, just as you are, is probably one of the hardest things to learn. It requires acceptance of who you are through the process of tough self-examination, honest introspection, and hard analysis of how you interface with what life hands you. It also requires trust that you are being partnered by spirit. This is a difficult concept for many of us to acknowledge, let alone grasp.
So is surrendering to a higher power, something most of us are not readily taught. Those who have learned to surrender have often done so when things have gotten really bad, when they have hit a wall or rock bottom and have no other place to go. To think that most of us would give up control, give our selves over voluntarily in this way without any kind of assurance or guarantee of having a better outcome, doesn’t come naturally to most of us.
Before you even begin to think about what your life theme(s) is, it’s a valuable exercise to give some thought to how you “see” and process the world around you and ask yourself these questions.
Once you’ve taken a look at how you “see” the world, try to identify the major life theme(s) that dominates your life.
What are your life lessons?
“Everyone gets the experience; some get the lesson.” ~T.S. Eliot
Everything we do in life has the potential to be a life lesson. For each stage of life, there are specific lessons to be mastered. Ideally, our task is to become introspective about the major transitions in our life, allowing the insights we’ve gained from them to remain with us. Being able to draw upon past events and experiences helps us to master the bigger picture.
When you view life as just a series of random events you may feel that you have little control over what happens to you and over the outcome. But by identifying your life theme(s), the way you “see” the world, and the way you process what happens to you, you have a great opportunity to gain an overview of your life by “connecting the dots.”