The most important perspective I was able to bring to some recent tough times, was deciding that the tough times weren’t a problem that needed to be solved.
It was essential for me that when I felt sad, lost and unhinged, these experiences weren’t labeled as a problem that I needed to recover from.
Instead, the difficult experiences I was going through were just the present moment.
It’s what was happening, and my only job was to show up fully for it.
I didn’t really like this—at all.
It was uncomfortable, and I wished it would all go away.
But I knew that pushing the hard feelings away was a move in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go.
I wanted to get more intimate with the experience of life, not more distant.
That meant pulling the hard feelings closer to me.
I want to say here, that I am now on the other side of those tough times, and I love my life again. I love where I live and the beauty of the natural world. I love my family and my career.
But a year ago, and certainly two years ago, I didn’t love any of it.
I was going through some type of “Dark Night of The Soul,” and I knew it was an important process. And, of course, cognitively I knew I would come out the other side somehow stronger. But that cognitive knowing didn’t make it feel any better.
Being lost and confused hurt.
It was scary.
And there weren’t a lot of people I could turn to.
But I kept going, and I am here to encourage all of you going through tough times, to keep going, too. Not because it feels good, and not because it is going to feel better real soon, but because it is okay not to feel good.
Feeling good is only part of the human experience. Feeling bad is part of the human experience, as well. It isn’t a sign of failure. No, it is the opposite—feeling bad is a sign of being real, being courageous and being willing to face hard truths.
Here are some tools I used when the waters were rough:
Don’t label the experience.
I was extremely cautious about labeling what I was going through. This meant it was hard to talk to other people about my difficult feelings and experiences, but it was important for me. I didn’t want to call my confusion and sadness a problem or even darkness. I didn’t want to weigh out how I was feeling as worse or better. This felt like a judgment. I just wanted to experience whatever needed to be experienced. I think our labels on our experiences have a lot of power. Take a look at what you are calling your tough times. Do the labels you are using really reflect your beliefs about the tough experiences you are having?
Don’t tell everyone.
I kept a lot of what I was going through very private. I didn’t want other people’s judgments on my very intimate experience. Of course, I had one or two friends I felt safe to lean on, and that was enough. It can be hard to get to a place in our lives where we don’t need other people’s approval. The truth is, things really only need to make sense to us. That is all. My experience of challenge didn’t really make sense to others. On the outside, everything in my life looked fine. But on the inside, there was an old way of being crumbling and a new way of being emerging. And it was subtle and profound and intense all at the same time. Other people couldn’t see this, but it didn’t matter. It was my experience.
Find professionals who understand.
I tried working with a lot of “helpers” during my challenging times. Some were helpful, and some weren’t. I didn’t give time or money to ones who weren’t. I trusted my own perspective, and I told professionals my intentions and what I was looking for, in terms of either counseling or energy therapy assistance. I showed up with my whole self, and if what they offered didn’t feel like healing to me, I didn’t return. It is my journey and a professional is only there to assist me.
I gave myself a lot of time and space.
I quit a lot of commitments during my challenging times. I slept more. I cried a lot. Sometimes I meditated, and sometimes I didn’t. I didn’t exercise much and that maybe wasn’t so great for my body. But I didn’t rush myself. I didn’t decide, at this date and time, I have to feel better. I just kept going. I accepted that healing and personal spiritual growth is a mysterious process, and that I would never have all the answers and never know exactly where I was going—but as long as I woke up each morning, and tried again, I was doing okay.
I sometimes feel weird and mean about the fact that I get happy when I hear or see people are going through tough times. I am not happy that anyone experiences pain or suffering, but I can’t help feeling happy when I see people getting the opportunity to heal old pain.
An opportunity to set intentions—to change things that aren’t working for them.
When we repress the pain—stuff it down and refuse to look at it—we often don’t even know what we would choose to change, or what we’d choose to heal.
But when our old hurts are raw and at the surface, we know exactly what we want to change. We know what thoughts, feelings and physical pain we want to be done with.
This is a powerful position to be placed in—a kind of knowing what isn’t working. This is more then a start. This is awareness.
This is honest truth. It hurts, but it is real.
For everyone out there having a tough time today, I want to say you are not alone.
We have all been there before, and many of us have come through to feel transformed and in love with life again.
I know you will have your turn to be thrilled by human existence once again.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Angie Harms