This has been a strange couple days.
After having what could best be described as a mental breakdown a few nights ago, I have been looking at things a bit differently.
All the things we build up about ourselves; the stories we tell ourselves, the images we have about ourselves, the narratives we give our lives, and so on—all of these things can become deluded in the blink of an eye.
We must have some story about who we are and what we are doing, but when that story stops working for us (creating more suffering than love) it becomes immensely difficult to let it go and start anew.
It is really hard to begin again.
I have been so hesitant to admit my mistakes over the past few years, because they have all been wrapped up in the unique and painful experience of having a chronic illness. To admit that I am wrong in how I am conducting myself is incredibly difficult when no one around me has any idea what it is like to be a young person contending with a severe illness.
It’s hard to explain, but what I’m trying to say is, my bad mental habits have come to be associated with the glory enduring the profound suffering that comes along with my condition. This is a terrible place to be in, because I’m actually preventing myself from healing because I have identified with my suffering in some strange way.
I have identified with being someone who has suffered greatly, for surely I have suffered greatly in dealing with this illness, but I am only making it harder on myself by being attached to the idea.
It’s harder to decide to make changes than it is to actually make those changes. Changing is easy. Admitting that we need to make changes is much more difficult.
I have been stuck for awhile—and I am finally realizing this.
We must admit how we are living wrong if we want to heal our soul, and my soul has felt broken for a long time.
I have been thinking a lot about what it means to begin again, and how to go about doing so.
In the words of Tyler Durden from “Fight Club,” “It is only once we have lost everything that we are free to do anything.”
These are the three steps I’ve discovered for starting over after a difficult chapter:
1. Give up and let ourselves hit rock bottom.
We must admit to ourselves that we are not okay, and that the things that we’re doing are not working. This makes us more vulnerable and open to change.
2. Be self-critical.
Not in the sense of being insulting or disparaging to oneself, but rather in the sense of truly looking at ourselves objectively and figuring out what we’re doing wrong. It’s a loving, constructive criticism, guided by the desire to heal. It is an attempt to be free of the things within us that are doing us harm.
3. Be hopeful.
Human beings cannot carry on without hope. It is a vital resource in transforming suffering into love. We must be hopeful in our healing process, that things will change for the better. Without hope, the temptation for despair is always present.
Right now, I’m still figuring out where I stand in the face of this shift in perspective. It all still feels like an open wound. I’m just trying to be a friend to myself and be willing to ask for help when help is needed.
What else can we do? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Christopher Campbell/Unsplash
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Samuel Kronen