+61(0)432724764 Blog | Contact | Log In

‘What is outwardly lost must be inwardly gained.’

Sometimes when we experience failure or pain, we feel that it is not right, almost as if we expect our lives not to present any difficulties, only pleasant and wonderful things. 

‘What is outwardly lost must be inwardly gained.’

I saw a quick clip of George Clooney saying that he has learnt nothing from success.  Yet we don’t want failures, we don’t want difficulties.  When we experience any of that, we want it to go away as quickly as possible.

Sometimes when we experience failure or pain, we feel that it is not right, almost as if we expect our lives not to present any difficulties, as if we should just slip through life, all smooth sailing, experiencing only pleasant and wonderful things.  A bit like a good ad for soap or Ralph Lauren or some ‘many followers’ influencer. 

Yet there is a Danish saying: ‘What is outwardly lost must be inwardly gained’.  We know we grow through difficulty.  Right now, many of us are experiencing loss.   Many of us are certainly experiencing losing money to the big corporates, to use a cliché.  Perhaps we are also losing faith in our politicians, in our systems.  My electricity (with lots of solar panels) has increased from $200 a quarter last year, to $450 last quarter, to over $900 with no changes to the household.  Car insurance and house insurance have doubled in two years, while the cost of groceries has increased.  I am sure you are having a similar experience.  We are losing part of the freedom we felt with more money in our hands.  Yet we feel powerless to do anything about these increases that are imposed on us.  How are we going to navigate that? What are we going to do about it?

Are we going to vent our frustration at the call centre people who get paid a pittance and are in the same situation as us?  Are we going to think about the kind of society we live in, and consider that it is not healthy that we have so much capital in the hands of so few?  And how might we affect that?

A friend introduced me to Box Divy, the ‘unsupermarket’.  The idea is that we in small community hubs can buy fruit and vegetables and other produce directly from the farmers.  It will even tell us what the farmer actually receives.  

There is nothing to say this model can’t be transferred to insurance, electricity and many other products and services we need.  It is much more like the credit union model, much more of a co-op model.  Perhaps these are some of the gains we are going to get from this ‘pain’.  We are going to see much more alternative thinking, alternative initiatives, and grassroots movements that challenge the financial giants and the status quo.

What about our inner journey?  What about the inner experience we have when we experience something difficult, be that loss, divorce, financial strain, bullying, or the pain of the breakdown of a friendship? How do we handle these matters?  Time does not heal all; it is how we spend the time that heals.

One of the themes for me this month has been what the older person offers and in particular for me the older woman.  

From the point of view of: ‘What is outwardly lost must be inwardly gained’, the obvious conclusion would be that in general an older person has experienced more challenges and difficulties than a younger person and therefore would be likely to have made more internal gains, have cultivated inner wisdom.  But age does not guarantee that we become wiser.  It depends how we process the difficult and the painful, as well as how we process success, of course. When we deal with pain as a transformational process, as a way where our heart and mind are informed by a higher-level understanding, then it makes us wiser.  An example of higher-level thinking is that I no longer think of the other as inadequate, inconsiderate or selfish but I see that we all are that at times. I place my curiosity on how I co-created the dynamics that make certain behaviours arise.  Additionally, that I provide for myself the soothing that the pain of the interaction causes me.

But when the experience makes us shrink in contraction and locked in judgment, concluding that is just how those people are, or life is cruel, or I am no good or not lovable, then it does just the opposite – it shrinks us.

Our commitment has to be to navigate pain with the intention of landing in compassion and wisdom. To notice when the system is in pain but to know that irrespective of how confusing it might feel in the moment, wisdom and compassion are the destination.  Experiencing compassion and wisdom is simply the ultimate mental states of health for us.  

I had a situation last week where I was really hurt by something.  I felt that someone had completely misconstrued who I am through their own dynamics yet I knew I was powerless to correct it.  I wrote an email outlining lots of reasons why they were wrong.  But I did not press ‘send’!  I had vented everything that my self-righteous ego needed to declare.  Now I am sitting with it.  I still have not responded as I know I am still hurt and I don’t want to speak from that place.  I am waiting till it comes full circle and I can see them with compassion and not my own hurt. When I land in that, I will respond.  That means my heart will have become wiser, not frozen.  An added benefit is that I am saving myself the escalation of a conflict.  I have inwardly gained what I outwardly lost.

What is outwardly lost in ageing is of course our appearance, a long future, long-term friends and perhaps agility, health and vitality.  What is potentially gained is more time, more contentment, not sweating the small stuff, access to a larger perspective, less rushing, and more appreciation.  Living with a much more, what we in Danish would call ‘roomy’ heart, a more spacious heart, a heart that can hold more complexity and bigger-picture views, yet appreciating the magic in the ordinary.  A spacious heart has more wisdom than it had when it was younger. 

If you would like more along this theme, there is a beautiful little film on SBS called “Madeleine’s Paris”.  The French seem to have realised the value of older women much more than some other cultures. I wonder why?

In curiosity and love

Charlotte

1 Response

Leave a Reply