To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under Heaven;
A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to break down and a time to build up;
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get and a time to lose;
A time to keep and a time to cast away;
A time to rend and a time to sow;
A time to keep silence and a time to speak;
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time of war and a time of peace.
These are the words of the song “Do everything, turn, turn, turn”, and they originate from the Bible. They are a great reminder that we are meant to experience everything in this life and to feel the emotions that go with these experiences. We are even allowed room for war and hate! There is a timely season for it all. I find this passage comforting as it addresses the human experience and its cycles, both big and small. (I’m not a practising Christian; just fascinated by the wisdom in many religious texts). In Buddhist mindfulness meditation, we are asked to sit with anything that comes up which can often be uncomfortable emotions. It’s only by owning them and feeling them that we are able to process them and free ourselves.
Some of my clients over the past few months are experiencing changes that they didn’t want to happen, or are feeling impelled to make changes but are scared about carrying out the necessary steps and risk that go with that. Others are grieving the loss of a relationship, or feeling alone and that their lives are empty. That well known-biblical phrase of “This too shall pass” is not always helpful when we’re experiencing intense or troubled times, because it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If we are experiencing loss and grief, or feeling angry, frustrated, empty or any other emotion that we label as negative, the best thing we can do is accept it and feel it. By doing this, we allow the emotions the time they need to process and then pass through us. If we try to block out our emotions, we end up holding onto them because we’re preventing the natural flow, and the result is that they remain within us and we harden and become bitter.
When we experience loss, we can see it as part of the many seasons of our life. “A time to break down, a time to build up”, “A time to keep and a time to cast away”. We must experience loss in order to create the new, like the leafless winter trees before spring comes and beautiful bright green buds appear. “A time to love and a time to hate” reminds us that in order to know love, we must know hate. We have all hated someone or something in our lives, and it is a necessary emotion at times. If someone has really hurt us, the immediate emotion of hate drives us to put up a boundary of self protection. Holding onto the emotion of hate is destructive, but by fully feeling the emotion, we allow it to pass through us until we are ready to forgive. “A time of war and a time of peace” reminds us that sometimes we have to stand up for ourselves if we are being bullied or treated badly, or fighting a difficult battle such as a divorce or court case.
While we grow through many different experiences, it is through pain that we grow the most and become our true and authentic selves. If you are experiencing a challenge and going through emotional pain, please remember to feel the feelings as deeply as you can. It can be scary, but you will get through it quicker in the long run. You will also come out of it a renewed and better person who is ready for a new beginning.