The One Question to Ask Yourself When You're In Pain


I believe in alchemy. I was on the phone with someone the other day and they practically guffawed in my face when I confessed this. However, the reason I believe in it is because I experience it over and over again in my own life.

What is 'alchemy' you ask? 

Well, historically, it was the precursor to chemistry that was based on a belief that one could turn base metals into gold and also manifest the elixir of life out of the precious philosopher's stone... Okay, so now you're probably like, "Really, G? So, where's the gold at..." That's not the kind of alchemy I'm referring to (Ugh, I wish. No more student loans!)

I believe in an internal alchemy, or the ability to take all of our experiences (especially the painful ones), weaknesses and emotions and create something powerful or learn a significant lesson from them. It's not an easy process. Answering the call of transformation and change is difficult because we're forced to face our shadowy places and deal with whatever we find lurking in there. Sometimes it's gooey. And ugly. And dismally dark.

Yet, I've learned that accepting my pain is an essential part of the process. After letting myself release all the crazy emotion by myself and curling up on the couch with Ben & Jerry's, a fluffy wool blanket and a box of tissues-- I'll usually pull myself together enough to have a conversation with me about what's going on (no, that wasn't a typo). 

G Talking to Herself:

"It happened. So, what are you going to do with it?"

What are you going to create from this experience? How are you going to use it to make your life better?  What have you learned?

This thought, question, idea-- whatever you want to call it-- is what gets me out of bed (eventually) and moving. It inspires me back to life because I know the more horrible I feel, the more powerful the purpose behind the experience.

For writers, some of the richest characters come from heart break, disappointment and anguish. Let's be real, The Great Gatsby wouldn't exist if Fitzgerald didn't get totally wrecked by Ginevra King (the inspiration for Daisy Buchanan).

Maybe these experiences will inspire us to be more compassionate. Or force us to change our current direction. They may shatter our previous perspective on something, so that we can grow into different, stronger, people. Or maybe we'll be able to touch another life and help someone who's experienced something similar. There's no way to know right now... But it can help shift our perspective from "WHY IS LIFE DOING THIS TO ME?!" to "HOLY MOLEY. WHAT DOES LIFE HAVE IN STORE FOR ME?" 

Transformation isn't easy. That's why I write about it. But it is beautiful. That I can assure you. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Let it flow. And then go make something with it.

It'll probably be pretty kicka$$.

In the words of Joseph Campbell (my forever hero), "Where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold.” 

All my love,