BY: T. Franklin Murphy | November 2015
Life invites us to examine ourselves and make changes; but in stubbornness we dismiss faults and blame, inviting more of the same.
We learn best through gentle instruction. Soft lessons are less threatening, gently allowing absorption and integration. If we mindfully tune into experience, we notice feelings emerging in conjunction with events, feelings often influenced by personal connections to that experience, signaling the level of importance. With closer awareness, we can loosen ego’s grasp, inviting learning instead of protections. We easily overlook the subtleness of soft messages, missing many opportunities for wisdom and growth. If in your past, you have been blind to the wonderous experience of living, don’t panic, life’s quiet lessons return—often a little louder and with more force.
Loud painful lessons don’t guarantee learning, unconscious living fails to see the obvious. Without constructive reflection, painful experiences don’t make sense, appearing random and unfair. We scratch our heads and wonder why. We ignore, dismiss and excuse responsibility. We errantly blame the wrong causes and learn the wrong lessons. Continued refusal to humbly learn, leads down stubborn destructive paths, protecting our egos while destroying futures. In protection of self, we destroy our lives trying to prove to the world that we are right. We justify our insanity as reasonable—and excusable.
Discovering patterns that connect personal actions to our repeated disappointments, uncovers deficits inviting failure. The gentle lessons expose vulnerabilities that unmask our hidden secrets. We easily can ignore the soft lessons that don’t demand attention. We usually wait until complete collapse, hitting rock bottom; but even then, many still miss the lesson, preferring to blame. Taking responsibility for poor decisions that warmly welcomes destructive consequences diminishes our indulgent perceptions of personal goodness. We turn our heads and miss the flaws. But acceptance of unsavory realities unveils necessary avenues to change.
By protecting tender egos, we unintentionally injure our futures, we are the fools. By repeatedly enduring unpleasantness in life without scrutinizing our roles, we miss golden opportunities for adjustment. We have little power over the universe; but do, however, have a measure of control over our response to the universe. Our actions are key to improvement. If we fail to learn the first time we are knocked down, typically life will bring the lesson back with greater force.
Some painful experiences aren’t the result of personal choice. But many, if not most, are intricately tied to behaviors, choices and thoughts--the elements that we have some degree of control. With complexity, the causes of experience are numerous. Many contributors collide at each moment, creating the event. We can search to find more pleasing explanations, shrugging our involvement. But when we excuse personal accountability, deflecting blame, we never gleam sufficient insight to avoid repeating the same pitfall. We relive the tragedy.
We must intentionally decide we are ready to learn. The lessons are only evident to those seeking wisdom. As the old Buddhist proverb teaches, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” We must humbly examine our role in the disappointments and hurts. Only with the humility and desire to learn can we improve and discover more of the life we have been missing.