After a breakdown

At times, things don’t go the way you expect them to. It may take time, but it is not impossible to recover

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart… The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” Pema Chödrön.

I work with individuals in various stages of life, rebuilding after a breakdown and building trust within. I am no expert on these issues, but I am certain that they are of their life and their intentions, and together we allow this truth to guide the process to find compassion and equanimity.

Tough but necessary

When I ask myself about my own ‘go-to’ to understand life’s lows, Pema’s work resonates every time — her kind complicity with sorrow and pain, her steadfast assertion that sorrow is, will, and has been part of our individual growth stories, makes me hopeful for all of us.

The question to ask is what suffers the most when we find ourselves in life’s toughest bends. Trust crumbles — trust in our self and in everything that concerns us. A big part of rebuilding is therefore, restoring trust.

Fostering self-trust involves developing a compassionate dialogue with the self. Self-compassion sounds like a jargon, but is really about honouring every facet of the self, irrespective of whether we approve or disapprove of that part of self. Building self-trust does not mean we will always say or do the right thing. It means irrespective of our own words or actions, we will allow the accidents and mishaps guide our evolution.

It is tough and it might feel easier to be ruled by the incessant, unfolding drama of thoughts and drown in the noise. But rebuilding never promised to be easy. Consider some basics as you navigate these unknown alleys — did you think you were incapable of failing and making mistakes? Is it self-righteousness that makes your shame and guilt endless?

Pema Chödrön, in The Places That Scare You, talks about an in-between state: “We are told about the pain of chasing after pleasure and the futility of running from pain. We also hear about the joy of awakening, of trusting the openness of our hearts and minds. But we aren’t told all that much about this state of being in-between, no longer able to find our old comfort from the outside, but not yet dwelling in a continual sense of equanimity and warmth. Restlessness, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It is the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint.

It is a tough ask in the midst of suffering. And this is what rebuilding looks like. If we are brave enough to stay there — unsure of what lies ahead, slowing down the burning need to be right again or to control the future — is when we are unravelling trust and compassion for our self. Don’t mistake it for weakness; it is a position of immense inner strength.

The author is a freelance writer, blogger, and life coach. [email protected]

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