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June 6, 2021

How to Navigate the “Hell in the Hallway.”

I started an article a while ago about the “hell in the hallway.”

We have all heard the saying, “when one door closes, another opens.” But what is not told in that story is the “hallway” period. The “hallway” period in life is rarely pleasant. “The hell in the hallway” description seemed incredibly fitting to my angsty, angry, and frustrated self at the time. I sat down to write, feeling validated and ready to get this idea out there.

Then I was listening to a podcast episode from Tara Brach. At one point in the talk, she was describing how, as humans, we are usually grasping for the next thing that will bring us satisfaction, peace, or comfort. As an aversion to the present moment, we think that when we acquire the right relationship, the right career, the right (insert anything), we will be happy. We are externally focused rather than internally focused.

I realized it was only “hell in the hallway” because I was grasping for the next door. I was believing that as soon as I got to the next “door,” I would be okay. To be fair, there is something about our environment and external circumstances that can take a heavy toll on our well-being. Tell anyone in a toxic environment that all the peace they need is found within, and be prepared to get the middle finger in your face.

Our environment can be either extremely detrimental or healing, it depends. But often, it is not because of the environment, necessarily, but because we feel stuck. That is certainly how I have felt in environments that were not good for me. It was not just the first arrow of the pain of the situation. The second arrow was that I felt powerless to change it. It can feel like making the necessary change to create a different environment is too big. We feel that we have to settle and put up with what we are experiencing—which can feel like hell. We think that as soon as we leave door number one behind, get through the hallway, and onto door number two, all will be well.

And there is a place for feeling that way. For being completely human, ungrounded, not present, pissed off, fearful, and grasping. We have all been there. In those moments, it can seem like that next door is going to hold all of our peace and happiness. I believe it is a human right to feel and think that, and that it is also part of the process.

Our power comes, however, from being in that state then realizing there is more to us.

Realising that, yes, there is pain, fear, and confusion here, but there is also so much more within. When we drop the grasping and breathe into the present moment, we can feel how complete we are right here and right now. We are reminded of our power. We are reminded that, yes, we are completely human and we are a spiritual being that has the capacity for miracles—regardless of relationship, job, or life status.

As I sit here with one door closed behind me, I am on the verge of many things. The possibility of a new career, new relationships, new lifestyle. All of which hold the capacity for bringing great joy, purpose, and meaning to my life. It is easy to look longingly into the next door and think that as soon as I get “there,” I will be the person I want to be and have the life I want to have.

I believe in dreams. I believe in imagining the best life for ourselves and having the courage to create a life that makes us proud. But if all I did was look into the next door, I would feel like I was experiencing “hell in the hallway,” because none of those things have appeared in my life yet.

Instead, I have the capacity as a fully human and fully spiritual being, to open myself up to the wholeness that is available to me every moment, even in the hallway. Where I can access my true source of joy, peace, and meaning. And I know without access to that space within myself, even if I had all the external things behind “door number two,” it wouldn’t feel complete. I need to be with myself in the hallway so I can bring my whole self through the next gateway in my life.

Is there such a thing as “hell in the hallway?” Hell yes. That space is real. But the story doesn’t end there. Our story becomes complete when we realize that the magic was within ourselves this entire time.


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