The quote in the title of this post, "We are pushed by pain until we are pulled by vision" is attributed to Michael Beckwith, someone I am not familiar with beyond giving him credit for a succinct and insightful statement. I heard it some time this last week via a podcast or from a friend, I do not remember. But, the quote stuck with me.
What most often brings people into therapy is their pain, typically pulling them by their hair kicking and screaming! Our suffering becomes so intolerable that we cannot live the same way any longer, and perhaps as an act of desperation, reach out for a lifeline. Of course many people experience horrific tragedy or loss that results in a overwhelming pain. But, for many others, the pain begins as an uncomfortable, disagreeable, or inconvenient thought or feeling, that needles us over and over again, and no matter how much we try to distract or numb ourselves to it, it simply won't go away. What starts as a small whisper of discontent, if ignored, can grow into a monstrous roar that overpowers all functional thought and feeling.
The work I do with clients often includes teaching them how to be receptive and responsive to those undesirable thoughts or feelings that we habitually ignore. Instead of criticizing and avoiding the parts of ourselves that are uncomfortable and disagreeable, imagine what it would be like to engage with them? What could we learn if we understood how they may be shaping our beliefs and behaviors? What role, when brought to light, can they play in guiding us toward an authentic self? I believe they are here to help us become more fully formed human beings that can live and love more deeply. But, we have to learn how to stop and listen, before we can envision something different pulling us toward wholeness.
Teaching people how to be curious about the scary parts of ourselves is a large part of helping them create that vision. They are a part of the self-correcting system of the soul that ultimately refuses to be ignored. The pain they create is intended to get us to pay attention and listen to our deepest desires.