You don’t need to BREAK to have a breakTHROUGH

image: iStock photo

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. Many of our deep-help beliefs and assumptions drive our behaviour, and as a consequence, much of what happens in our lives.

What if many of us have a deeply held belief that in order to experience peace or enlightenment we need to have a crash first – that we need to ‘break’ before we can have a breakthrough.

Some probably don’t even think of this as a belief but as a fact. But I think there are less facts than we think, and more beliefs that seem to be facts.

In our world of duality, yes we do need to know what down is so that we can experience up, but this doesn’t mean that we need to experience down again and again and again and again in our lives. Maybe once is enough.

Part of the belief for many of us who read self-help and mind-body-spirit books perhaps stems from reading books by enlightened people who have experienced deep suffering but awoke from the illusion they had been living in and were enlightened. One of my favorite books where this happened in the authors’ life is ‘The Power of Now’, by Eckhart Tolle.

We are so moved by the author’s experience and wisdom that we make the assumption that their life path has to be the same for us. It really is a wonderful book and I remember just feeling at peace for days after I read it, such was the impact it had on me.

But does this mean that the only path to enlightenment is through suffering first? I’m sure those who are enlightened would say no. I wouldn’t say I was enlightened myself, so what do I really know? I can only go on intuition and what makes sense to me.

Here’s what I think: What if the belief that we need to suffer first is actually pulling many people into suffering because, on some level, they felt it was necessary for them to reach a true space of peace.

I don’t doubt that it is a path to enlightenment, but I don’t believe that it is the only path.

So what if we didn’t believe this?

I don’t, and interestingly, I remember very clearly the moment when I had that realisation. I felt at peace. Strange! And it lasted for weeks. The sense of peace wasn’t from the resolution of all that I was struggling with at the time, but from the realisation that I didn’t actually need to suffer. The capacity to experience peace was with me all along, and only required a change of thought.

And it’s funny because the breakthrough I experienced – that we don’t need to suffer – was created via suffering. And I now wonder if I needed to suffer in order for me to realise that I didn’t need to suffer in the first place. Ahhhhh….. maybe that’s a bit too deep for this short article. 🙂

The mind is a strange thing indeed!

The belief that I needed to suffer was actually pulling some of the strings in my life, leading me into difficult personal situations where I was suffering. When I let go of this assumption, I felt different, somewhat lighter, and life seemed to work a little better for me.

I can’t say that’s how it is for everyone, but of the many, many people I meet around the world as I give lectures and hold workshops, I’d hazard a guess that there’s quite a few people who hold that belief.

My affirmation after that was the title of this article but written for myself:

I don’t need to break to have a breakthrough.”

How about trying that one on for size and see if it fits? It might work or it might not. Worth a try though, I think, if it could at least spare a little suffering for some people.

Have a great day!

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  1. Jan on April 4, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    It appears to me that our world is made from our beliefs. Some seem beneficial to our expansion so may-be that is why we hold them much longer then necessary. This is a wonderful view to consider! Thank you.

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on April 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks for your comment Jan. I find it so fascinating how so much of our world and our behavior is a consequence of our beliefs. I agree – some we definitely hold onto as we know, deep down, that they will benefit our expansion. I work with beliefs on a very regular basis and I’m always uncovering layers of new things. 🙂

  2. Marietta Archer on April 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    You know David, I was raised by the belief that God only gives us the load that we can handle. Well, that being said, my load has been challenging, many road bumps,etc. I am willing to go about life lighter, with more self acceptance and self love. This works more times than not yet when I hit that speed bump that says HOLD IT, here’s reality I shake my head because I don’t live in a cloud yet it’s a nudge of some sort. I do love your gentle, beautiful humorous approach and I certainly have read many books by Wayne Dyer. Louise Hay, Robert Holden, Yours of course and many others over the years. I do understand that somehow I’ve separated from Love and not sure of the way back to connection. Somewhere I have the circuit yet seem to move past it without letting it connect. I live with MS as well as a few other things. And just like the milen breakdown I wonder if my disconnect to Source isn’t a similar story.Both can heal yet I seem to miss the connect.
    Anyway, I do enjoy hearing you speak and give us new routes to explore.
    In Gratitude, God Bless

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on April 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      Thanks for your comment Marietta. I know your words will resonate with many readers. I sometimes feel that we can’t ever really separate from Love/God, but it feels like we do. For many people, life gives us challenges/opportunities that certainly leave us feeling disconnected. In challenging times, I try to remind myself that the separation I feel is not ultimately the truth and then tell myself, “I am loved beyond measure, even when I forget.” Sometimes, more often than not, it brings a little warm sensation to my heart and mind.

      Thank you again, for your comment and for your kind words about my approach. 🙂

      Have a lovely day,

  3. Judy on April 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Hi David,
    I like that you call it a breakthrough to begin with and not a breakdown, some years ago a psychologist said the same to me when I was experiencing a difficult time, she referred to it as a breakthrough….
    Anyhow, it is a lovely sentiment that you don’t actually have to “break” and basically I am just saying thanks for sharing it 🙂

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on April 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      And thanks for your nice reply, Judy. 🙂

  4. Ursula on April 4, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I like your idea that some people think/believe that they have to suffer. When I listen to people who talk about suffering they seem to be very inward looking – some of them gain a lot of care and attention while they talk about their suffering and you are right the thought that they could suffer less does not always occur You move on and explain about a break to achieve a breakthrough . Could it be that we have to break with the habit of looking into ourselves and interact with the world around us more to achieve the breakthrough?
    Looking forward to the book

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on April 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks Ursula,

      That’s a very good idea – to break with the habit of looking into ourselves. 🙂 I have always been more of a positive coach, where I like people to look at what’s working, their strengths, etc, as it’s too easy to get into a habit of always looking inwards for what’s wrong. You’re right, it’s a habit. Ok for when it’s needed, but too much can be a habit. Certainly a good one to break. 🙂


  5. Chris lynch on April 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    I hit rock bottom about five years ago when my partner left me, I have never felt so distraught and empty as I did then and didn’t really want to live any more, but God used that horrible time to give me a nudge as I had neglected my beliefs about Him and via reading the psalms in the bible I found peace and strength that kept me going through the next four years. Maybe if I hadn’t of had that awful time I wouldn’t have recommitted myself to Him and become more compassionate and understanding towards people who are hurting.

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on April 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Thanks for your comment Chris. I can relate a little to what you say. When I was experiencing a period of depression in 1993 (in the middle of my PhD), I used to read the New Testament every lunchtime. I found it to be a source of warmth and strength, and it definitely helped me to navigate a course through those rather choppy waters. 🙂

  6. Georgie Oldfield on April 5, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Thank you for this thought-provoking blog David, I love it. I absolutely believe that we are all driven by beliefs, many of which we don’t consciously recognise. When I began working in the field of stress-induced pain I ‘believed’ that the belief that pain was often not due to a physical cause was the main one I had to help people overcome. The more I have gone down this route though, the more I realise how powerful the brain is and how beliefs drive us all every moment and therefore, as it appears with you, my ‘work’ has also become my own personal development and my passion.

    I met you briefly after you spoke at last year’s Hay House conference in London and because your work provides the research for the work I do, I always share them with my peers, my patients and all my contacts. So, thank you for some great content! 🙂

    • David R. Hamilton PhD on April 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks George,

      I’m glad you loved the post and that the stuff I write and speak about has been useful for you. Thanks for your kind words. 🙂


  7. Sinead Ailill on April 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    We were just discussing this topic this morning in my meditation group – love the synchronicity! One of the ladies there had an experience recently where a teacher said to her that in order to learn we need to experience some kind of suffering. Well after a very short discussion we came to the conclusion that we didn’t agree with this teacher at all! And then up pops your blog! Love it 🙂 Thanks David, your blogs are always refreshing to read ~ Sinéad Ailill

  8. Sam on April 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm


    Great post and agree you don’t have to go down to go up!

    Anita Moorjani crystalised my own thinking – our only purpose in life it to be ourselves.

    We are all already enlightened just as we are. For me there is no path or journey to get there – we are already here….

    If we stop the struggle and stop living in fear we might just be able realise it.

    If we believe this we can then start to unlearn some of the negative ways of thinking and fear based decision making that so often dictates our lives.


  9. Celia (Houston, Tx) on April 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I find myself these days waking up to so much each and every day and I feel this struggle, the suffering. This, that you talk about here actually gave me, relief……I don’t have to suffer and I really don’t have to struggle. It now feels like, a choice and not a have-to. I DO have the control over what I would like. I can feel that I learned how to suffer, and now I can choose what it is that I would prefer to experience. It’s MY choice now. What would I like, to suffer or to be at peace?

    It’s almost like we were told that we didn’t have a choice. This felt, hopeless. Who wouldn’t suffer when you feel that you don’t get to have a choice? Why wouldn’t we feel the suffering when we feel hopeless?

    So, I DO have a choice! I get to choose. And then I……breathe peace. I come back to myself.
    So good you wrote this, thank you, brilliant.

  10. trevG on April 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

    There’s a difference between suffering brought on by wrong thinking/acting in ourselves and that which lands at our doorstep via fate &/or others actions.
    Both hopefully lead to growth in us- but resilience is needed in the latter case where a good internal view and a positive approach to life is important, as you suggest.
    Fear of the unknown is a natural tendency, but in our historically safer, but ever more complex world, knowledge of ourselves is a more useful attribute.
    Caring for others is a good distraction from our own worries – and counting blessings is always a good practice 🙂
    This curtails the selfish ego from worrying about its joint survival with the ‘hod carrying’ body and that makes a much better world all round.

  11. Monika Ashton on April 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    When we are the most vulnerable that is when we are able to listen to our soul.
    The ego is no where insight.