Working With Painful Emotions

When We Hit Bumps in Life’s Road and Crash

Sometimes we hit bumps in life’s road and crash. I now know that is normal, but I didn’t always think this.

What I Used to Think

When I was younger, I thought that if I just did everything right, my life would go smoothly; I wouldn’t have any problems and people would treat me fairly; and I would generally be happy most of the time.

Of course, it didn’t take me long as a young adult to figure out that this wasn’t true. I realized that we can do everything right (or try to do everything right) and we can still suffer serious setbacks. We can be the best person in the world and still face people who treat us unfairly and not as we deserve at all.

Even when we are doing our best, behaving in a moral way, and even have it seemingly “all together”, life is really, really hard.

Don’t get me wrong. I think life can be beautiful and amazing and have moments that are full of joy.

Being Human

But we can’t control people. We can’t control life. And we can’t even totally control ourselves.

We have limited knowledge and understanding because we are finite human beings. So we make a lot of big mistakes (even when we are trying our best) because we just don’t know.

And because there are so many things we can’t control, sometimes we hit big bumps in the road and crash. And it is so painful. I have definitely had those crashes before. (You can read about one here: How Embracing Vulnerability Changed My Life and Why I am Still Working On It)


If you are suffering a lot of pain and feeling vulnerable and afraid, you are a normal human being, and you are not alone.

Some Wise Words

Pema Chodron writes:

“Fear is a universal experience. Even the smallest insect feels it. We wade in the tidal pool and put our finger near the soft, open bodies of sea anemones and they close up. Everything spontaneously does that. It’s not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown. It is part of being alive, something we all share.

We react against the possibility of loneliness, of death, of not having anything to hold onto. Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth [italics mine]…Anyone who stands on the edge of the unknown, fully in the present without reference point, experiences groundlessness. That’s when our understanding goes deeper, when we find that the present moment is a pretty vulnerable place and that this can be complete unnerving and completely tender at the same time.”[1]

Vulnerability is Normal

In your time of emotional vulnerability and pain and fear, may you know that you are not alone, you are not doing anything wrong. We all suffer these experiences (although sometimes we are not honest about it.) May you know that you are moving closer to the truth and that “the truth will set you free”.[2]



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Also, consider following my blog if you don’t yet. I usually post twice a week on a variety of topics related to loving ourselves and others and living a more compassionate life.

More on Compassion: If you would like to read more about compassion, you might like these posts:
Compassionate Cactus #1: The Broken Parts of the World

Compassion: How to Heal Suffering

Judgment or Compassion: Two Response to the Pain of Being Human

Works Cited

[1] Pema Chodron. When Things Fall Apart: Heat Advice for Difficult Times. Shambala. Boston. 2000, pg. 1-2

[2] John 8:32 (NIV)

8 thoughts on “When We Hit Bumps in Life’s Road and Crash”

  1. I could relate to your first paragraph very much. I tried so hard to do it all ‘right’, to be ‘good’ And when things went painfully wrong I wondered where did I go wrong. Self judgment keeps piling from thereon, even for the fear of the unknown we experience. I am past that now but your posts reminds me of the journey. You make very helpful points for those struggling with this.

    1. P, I think you and I have had similar experiences. I tried so hard for the first part of my life to do it right and was so shocked when it all feel apart. That is when I learned compassion. Your post on compassion really rang true to me.

  2. Thanks for reminding me that fear is normal. I used to try to fight it or somehow think my way out of it. I don’t feel fear too much anymore, but when it does come, I will have this in my psyche. Thank you!

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