What if the pain that seems to be yours is really not yours? (And here I do not mean to belittle personal suffering, but only to offer a larger perspective that may help alleviate it.) The truth is that fear and anger exist outside ourselves. They are not yours or mine, unless we attract them.
When you learned as a young child to cling to my toy, my candy, my pleasure, my happiness, at the same time your ego started clinging to the opposite: my scraped knee, my broken doll, my sadness, my pain.
Absorbing an experience as “mine” was how you built your self up, developed a sense of individual identity. As we grew, we learned to see this self in a larger perspective, in the context of humanity. But when tragedy strikes, we often regress to this early state.
To counteract this, we need to find the spirit. For spirit can do one thing that your ego craves very deeply and can’t accomplish on its own. Spirit can help the ego escape that painful trap of I, me, and mine.
The ego wants the best for “me.” Yet there is another, subtler force that wants the best for all (which ends up being best for me, in the end). Allow this force to express itself, and you will discover that the walls of isolation are not as solid as your suffering makes them seem.
Spirit gives us access to an emotion that cannot be felt in isolation – compassion. Compassion comes from the root word “to suffer with,” and for that reason many people actually fear it.
Trying to keep out someone else’s pain comes from fear for our own safety; in the name of safety we retreat behind our own private walls. Yet the truth is that your pain and the pain of others are shared. They make you human together.
Adapted from The Deeper Wound: Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2001).