Beach Rocks

When Things Come Up

We go through life almost on automatic. Our body manages to sustain itself – all our systems operate healthily we hope, and we awake and glide through our days to wind down and lay our heads to rest at night.

Our human experiences begin from the moment we are conceived. In the womb we have a consciousness.  Though we may not have any sense of that time, each moment is indelibly imprinted.  We are born and live our lives, each of us our own adventure, each of us our own individual story to tell.  We form our ideas and thoughts. We discover what we want, what we dream and desire. We strive for the things that we think are important, that will make us happy, successful, and loved.

But for most of us, there is a glitch, an imperfection, a bump in our road, an obstacle that throws us off course, or prevents us from achieving something that we aspire towards. There are things that don’t sit well with us, that cause us stress, or pain. And there are things that though we try to avoid them, they keep coming up.

Pema Chodron believes and I quote,

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.

There are many teachers and healers that believe that until we learn our lessons, those things will keep coming up for us. We are in fact continually given the opportunity to work on that aspect of ourselves. The object is to either integrate or release the feelings.

I am often interested in finding the answer to why certain things continue to come up in my life.  Patterns of thought, action, relationships, feelings… all seem to have a cyclical nature. I think that the real answers are hard to find, and if found, difficult to really understand, or perhaps they are just unknown. I have experienced this in all facets of my life, but more importantly in myself.  Sometimes the best medicine for these things is to just acknowledge and then accept. Acknowledge that thought or feeling that you are uncomfortable with or that makes you sad or unhappy or anxious. Accept your reactions to the things that sometimes undermine your ability to respond clearly and with composure and calmness. Notice your responses on not just an emotional level, but on a psychological and physiological one as well. Know that there are just some things in your life that will always stir up your heart.

So the next time something comes up for you, something that seems to be part of a bigger and more complex tapestry of your life, look it in the eye. Let it come up and let yourself consciously learn from it. Let it inform you of what it needs you to know. Embrace it as part of who you are. Let it float through you without getting stuck and being labeled as something other than what it is – just an experience you have had that for some reason you are holding onto. What you are holding on to is the emotional tenor of that particular experience. You are assigning it that meaning, that significance, and until you stop giving it that value and power, and you let it float freely, it will continue to find its way back into your life – finding its place in your cellular memory, and evoking the emotional response that you have been programmed by it to give. Things only have the meaning that we ourselves assign to them. It is always in and by our own power of thought, consciousness, and action, that we can integrate, let go, and move forward on our journey of life.


  1. Michele Ortlip on February 18, 2014 at 7:38 PM

    Great, insightful post! I think fear is one of our biggest obstacles to letting go…We hold on to what is familiar, even it is hurting us because the unknown is scary…But the more we sit with a feeling and learn not to fear it, the better off we will be! Thanks for all of your wonderful writing!

    • Jill Alman-Bernstein on February 18, 2014 at 10:37 PM

      I think you are right Michele. Fear is a huge obstacle to letting go. Fear of the unknown…fear of change… fear of what we may find in ourselves.

  2. Melanie on February 19, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    No doubt this is precisely why we get in an emotional ‘rut’ – acknowledging these recurring patterns in our lives, is vey empowering. And knowing when to stop giving it meaning is key. Great insight and powerful words, Jill. Thank you!

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