Please welcome Abigail Steidley, owner of The Healthy Life, LLC Life Coaching Services and blogger of The Vagina Dialogues. You can read more about Abigail at the bottom of this post.
In Martha Beck coaching, we coaches have a question we love to ask our clients. When they are facing a something they find unpleasant or frustrating, we ask, “Why is this experience perfect for you right now?”
It’s a question you have to really think about, but after it bounces around in your head for a while, the answer just comes. There are so many experiences in life that we don’t want to have, and illness tops the list. We don’t want to be sick. We don’t want to feel discomfort or pain in our bodies. Yet, if we are feeling pain or discomfort, wanting desperately to feel good instead is such a painful mental place to be. We want what we don’t have, and that is all we can think about in each moment. The reality, however, is that we are in pain in the present moment. We are uncomfortable. To want something that is not our reality right now, and to believe it won’t happen, makes us feel horrible.
Fighting reality never feels good, so it can bring instant mental relief if you are able to stop resisting the current situation and look at it in a new way. Strangely, releasing resistance often opens your eyes to new options, creative ideas, or new ways of thinking that eventually solve the problem. “Why is this experience perfect for you” moves your thinking into a different place, allowing you to release resistance and become unstuck.
This question and its answer gave me incredible freedom when I was living with vulvodynia and IC. In a way, it answered the despairing “why me” I threw out to the universe pretty much daily. I hated living in pain and discomfort. I hated the whole vulvodynia experience. I hated how my life had changed because of it. Then, Kathleen, my breath and relaxation instructor (see previous posts) asked me that question. “Why is this experience perfect for you right now?” I even hated that question, at first. Then, as though moving into daylight from a dark cave, I could suddenly see my life stretched out behind and before me, my past and my future converging at this excruciating moment called Now.
It was perfect because through this experience, I was discovering incredible new worlds, opening my mind to life-changing new ideas, and becoming very spiritually grounded. I was finally expunging painful memories and coming alive in a way I could never have imagined before the wake-up call of life-stopping pain. I was forced, through this illness, to learn to be still and relax, to stop running from my own thoughts and feelings, and to truly live in the moment. I discovered gratitude. My whole entire life was re-shaped thanks to this experience, from the inside out. So I knew, even as I was still in pain, why the experience was perfect for me. I knew I would become the person I longed to be, in harmony with myself, for the first time in my entire life.
Seeing the amazing reasons for my experience gave me a completely different focus. I relaxed. I accepted the reality of where I was, but I expected to move forward to health, at whatever pace was right. I let joy into my soul and began to like my own self. I felt so incredibly good, despite the physical pain, that I simply knew everything was going to be fine. And soon enough, the physical pain diminished, gradually, gradually, until I noticed one day it was no longer the perfect experience for me anymore. It was gone. I had moved on to new and different perfect experiences, new and different classrooms in the university of life. Pain was my teacher, and I accepted my place as student. When I had completely understood what I needed to learn, I graduated.
Why is this experience perfect for you right now?
I’d love to hear your answers, so feel free to comment. It would be fun to start a little discussion about what each of you is experiencing and why it’s perfect for you!
Martha Beck-trained Life Coach Abigail Steidley coaches women suffering from vulvodynia, vulvar pain, IC, STDs, painful sex, vaginal infections, vaginisumus, and other pelvic pain issues. Abigail was diagnosed with vulvar vestibulitis, vulvar dysesthesia, interstitial cystitis, and pelvic floor dysfunction in 2004. She suffered through two years of vulvodynia before discovering her own path to health and her essential self. Now she works with women who want tools to dissolve the painful emotions that come with these afflictions. Visit her blog at http://vulvodyniacoach.wordpress.com where you can contact Abigail, read health-related posts, and find out more about coaching.