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 if that fear and anger exist outside ourselves. They are not yours or mine, unless we attract them.
Negativity is an invisible parasite. It needs a host to feed off of, and the host is the ego. 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. It is strange but true that the very mechanism that builds the isolated self also wants to escape it.
The ego wants the best for “me,” yet there is another, subtler force that wants the best for all (which ends up 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.
Compassion comes from the root words “to suffer with,” and for that reason many people actually fear it. Compassion is one of the most honored and saintly feelings because it marches up to the front lines of suffering and says, “Take me.” In this giving of oneself there is a direct experience of pain, yet in the giving there is love.
Thus compassion has the power to dissolve pain by not avoiding it, but by trusting that love affords the greatest protection. By discovering that there is a reality – love – stronger than any pain, you mount your strongest defense.
Adapted from The Deeper Wound: Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2001).