“Always remember that your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come.” ~ Zig Ziglar
The rising challenges in mental health this past year have brought a significant heaviness to my heart.
The idea of anyone suffering, especially within the confines of their own minds, is something I feel extremely passionate about eradicating because I’ve been there myself.
I’ve had years of my life consumed with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder, and I know the pain this brings to our whole life experience, our relationships, our connection to ourselves, our well-being, and our future aspirations.
Yet when I look back on that time in my life now, I see the transformative opportunity it actually created for me.
Without reaching rock bottom, I don’t think my life would look anything like the life I love living now. Without getting to the depths of no longer wanting to live, of being terrified to leave the house, of hating myself so fiercely—I wouldn’t have begun the determined journey to discover the opposite.
None of those things affect my life now, yet all of those things influenced how my life panned out, the direction I took, the passions that burned through me, the unshakeable commitment I have now to help others overcome their challenges.
I look back on that time of fear and distress, and am grateful for the rude awakening I got to the utter disconnection I was living.
That crash into my lowest low became the foundation on which I built the rest of my life.
I started working on myself, learning to love myself. I became confident within, let go of the anxiety and depression, and recovered fully from the eating distress. But it didn’t stop there.
Having been cocooned in so much hatred for my life for so long, this journey gifted me with an unwavering appreciation for the absolute magic of life, for the incredible opportunity our existence is, for the unmatched capacity we have as humans to overcome adversity and truly thrive.
I was able to find immense gratitude, where I was once overwhelmed with grief.
So how can we do this?
How, in the midst of the chaos the globe has been experiencing, can we actually find a silver lining?
1. We’ve got to choose it.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor Frankl
(If you don’t know Frankl’s story, check him out—that alone could massively shift your perspective!)
I was brought to counselling, so I’m not going to act like it was my bright idea. But choosing to recover was. Choosing to stick with it and commit to the process was a decision. And it was one I had to keep choosing until it was the obvious choice. Because ultimately, when we’re at our lowest point, what is the alternative?
We don’t have to keep suffering. We really don’t. I know it feels like that’s all that’s available sometimes, but is that true? Haven’t we seen others who have overcome their challenges? Isn’t there even a tiny shred of hope that we could too? And don’t we really want that? A life free of anxiety and depression, where we feel whole, confident, and calm?
We’ve got to choose to see the alternatives. Choose to see how these feelings are merely a signal, an indication of misalignment within, a disconnection from who we truly are. That’s why it feels awful, because it’s not our natural state, it’s not us. This means that when we restore the truth of ourselves, we will free ourselves.
2. Connect to what’s possible.
“We need a compelling future. This is how we grow” ~ Tony Robbins
Use this time to get inspired. These times are opportune to get out of our heads even for just a few minutes and look to the world for inspiration. Finding someone who resonates, find a quote or a book that speaks to our souls. Any inkling of insight that we can connect to outside of our current situation.
We can begin to explore our purpose. Asking: What could be our reason for being? What would we like our impact to be? We’ve got to connect to a strong “why.” We can get curious about how we want things to change. How our lives will look when we turn this around. What would the purpose of doing that even be?
If these ideas seem out of reach, we can keep it simple. Would you like to feel more confident in yourself? Would you like to have the energy to get out of bed and do something with your day? Would you like to be kinder to yourself?
Plant the seeds of what’s possible. This begins to fire new neural pathways to redirect our focus. And if we bring them to mind often, our brains will start welcoming in the information that makes them more tangible, the relevant support that brings them to fruition for us.
3. Switch your focus.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Wayne Dyer
If we want to find opportunity in our challenges, we’ve got to start looking for it. We’ve got to get curious about our experience. Start asking questions like, “How is this helping me grow? What’s great about this? How can I use this? What is life teaching me?”
What if life is happening for me, not to me?
I know these are quite possibly the last things on many minds and might even seem a bit out there, but honestly, when I started shifting to this way of thinking, I made much more progress much more quickly.
One of the driving forces of motivation for me was that by going through my experience, I could some day help others. I found purpose in it. I used my triggers as teachers, I sought everyday to be learning something—about myself, about life, about personal development. I realised I was on a lifelong path of growth, not stuck in a rut as I had previously believed.
Focus is everything. Focus creates feelings. It directs our experience and magnifies that which it rests on.
What you focus on is what you get.
I’m not here by any means to dismiss your experience or to say “just look on the bright side.” Of course I know how that sounds when you’re in a dark place.
But I am here to bring a reminder of our power. I’m here to inspire hope in all of us that we can create a life we love, that’s aligned to who we really are, that excites us and lights us up. I’m here to bring awareness to our choices. And encourage that we use them.
After that, it’s up to each of us individually to create whatever response to life we choose.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~ Viktor Frankl