A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.
–Lucius Annaeus Seneca
I have long been a proponent of the expression, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Lately, it has been falling short. As Seneca stated, friction creates perfection. How precisely is that true?
What if we are already perfect? That is a hard concept for most people who are not narcissistic to comprehend. What is perfection? The ability to know all, love unconditionally, act ethically and compassionately at all time, and having optimal mental, physically, and emotional health? Or perhaps it is the human version of luminosity and brilliance shared by the polished gem? When one contemplates the perfected emotional states, what does that include? Joy, love, acceptance, peace?
When I consider this perfected state, the image of freshly fallen snow, blanketing the forest around my house in glittery, blinding white as the luminous sun smiles upon it. There is little contrast.
When I think of the friction that leads to perfection, I think of challenges and shadowy emotions such as anger, grief, fear, doubt, loathing, unworthiness, grief. This friction provides contrast to the brilliance of perfection. Creating imperfection to experience the shadow aspects of our being allows an opportunity to experience the totality. Embracing the shadow aspects brings wholeness.
If we were to make a soup of water and chicken, it would be nourishing, but boring. It is when we add the spices and vegetables that the taste becomes more complex. If we were to brown the chicken first, even more flavor. But all of that is more work, more effort. It is not easy unless you’ve repeated the process many, many times.
Our challenges, our shadow emotions, are what give us the flavor to our lives. Thats why we choose to be humans; the totality of the human experience. The first few experiences of limitation are very hard. Yet, repeating it in various iterations, it becomes second nature until we create them unconsciously. We begin to form limiting beliefs to support and validate the experiences.
Science knows that even in the darkness, it is impossible not to have some frequency of light. Our light is always there, within, waiting to increase. It is in the awareness that we have chosen to experience our shadow sides that we can begin to shift out of the darkness and into the light.
Shifting requires courage to look into the shadows and remember your truth- that you are Divine and infinite. Even the willingness to be present within the adversity or pain without running or hiding takes tremendous courage. That is called fortitude. To stand grounded and say, “I am here now and I don’t know what to do, where or how this will end, but I am willing to just be here and feel whatever comes up now” is what begins to change the paradigm dramatically.
Standing firmly grounded in the present means you’re not looking into the past for experiential learnings to apply to the unknown future, by-passing the uniqueness of the present moment and experience. This allows for acceptance of what is being felt, for the parts in the past that were not allowed to feel, and unifies you in a moment of marriage between shadow and light. Personally, I call this a miracle of grace.
Will it be easy? Probably not, though it will not be as challenging as you may expect, either. The results are profound. The freedom from the fear and doubt of the past provides peace and relief. Each time you repeat this process, you rewire your brain. Each time you engage fortitude, you build self-trust making each future decision to stay present even easier. Until one day, the friction is merely polishing your own perfection.