I’m writing this from personal experience, and I know I’m not the only one who may have lost their faith and trust in life. I know I’m not the only one who feels so disheartened and tired from challenge that I grow more sceptical and less likely to expect the best, but instead resign to the idea that life just doesn’t get any better.
This is the core of depression. This is also the core of repressed grief. This is also the core of lost faith and lack of purpose.
So how do we reclaim the magic in life? How do we awaken our faith again? How do we count our blessings instead of our pain?
I’m writing this not as a magical pill that will give all answers, but to understand my own life experience right now and in doing so, hopefully help those of you who feel the same, an opening to the new, to the different, to possibility again. I want to feel what others feel, the sense of being alive again as I’m sure you do too.
You can only lead others toward growth if you are willing to grow yourself. ~ Kari Hohne
We can’t and won’t discover the blessings in our life or reclaim the magic if we receive comfort or rather security from our identification with pain and suffering. Until we can see that we suffer because a part of us needs to suffer, life won’t change.
And I say this knowing a part of me feels safer suffering than allowing the new or the whiff of possibility in my life.
I recognise that a part of me focuses on lack, focuses on loneliness, focuses on fear because it both feels safer in this known place, but also because it knows no different, believes nothing will change, so why bother trying to see the blessings anymore?
I also know that a part of me focuses on expecting the worst to happen. It is a way my mind controls my reality. If it can just think up the worst possible thing that can happen, I can control my reaction to it when comes, even if it does not come.
When you get to a point in life when you have stopped dreaming, you realise something is holding on within. Something inside expects disappointment, so has decided the pain of dreaming a better life experience is fruitless and pointless.
I’ve been at this place many times in my life. It can be labelled depression, despair, grief, the void…it has held within it the gift of transformation, but how do we get that gift when what we see appears to be challenge not freedom or relief.
Ride the Waves
My friend Mike keeps saying to me when the negative thoughts come up, to replace them with something else. And I sit here, and I wonder what thoughts can replace a deep-seated feeling of despair? Hopelessness? The feeling that sees zoning out and disappearing a far easier thing to do? That the mind is masked by the depth of feeling so deep that if I could find a thought to replace it would be almost impossible to do, because this is pure feeling, the thoughts are probably a group of thoughts that are like wisps of smoke that I cannot grab onto to see what I would change them into.
So, what do we do when the thoughts are just wisps of smoke that we can’t catch a hold of to change, but instead the feelings are so intense we feel immobilised?
We ride the waves.
Much like a surfer paddles out across still water, until he reaches a depth where he awaits the peak of a wave coming, he stands up, he waits, he rides the wave.
When we cannot grasp the thoughts creating the intensity of a feelings and emotional pain, all we can do is ride the wave of those feelings. Yes, we may feel like we are going to topple over, collapse under a tidal wave of grief, but we honestly have no choice but to ride those waves.
I won’t say suddenly you will feel better, but I will say that when I contemplate the feelings, feel myself drowning, it tends to be because what I am experiencing or perceiving in life does not match my desires or expectations of life. And so, my feelings are in a total place of lack.
So right now, I feel sad, lonely, scared, unable to focus on peace or pleasure or anything ‘good’ and I ride the understanding that I cannot change this with my mind. I cannot make myself feel ‘not sad’, or ‘not lonely’, or ‘not scared’. I cannot suddenly focus on peace or pleasure or blessings in my life.
This pain, this suffering if it were a child I would lift into my arms, hold and soothe. I wouldn’t take that child from the dark corner it is hiding in, weeping and shaking and say to it ‘Look at this peace, look at this flower, look at this sky’.
While intellectually I know, further down the road I would be ready for that. Right now, I am not and that is okay.
We can focus on the flowers, not the thorns once we have accepted where we are right now.
To push ourselves beyond where we are currently at, too abruptly, even if it looks ‘positive’ on the surface, is trying to ride the wave without the surfboard. We just fall into the water and don’t receive what we need to from the wave.
It Is Easy to Look at Life and Base Our Future on Our Past
We can wrestle with our lives, our reality.
Perhaps your life is not what you wanted.
Maybe you wanted a romantic relationship and it is not there?
Or perhaps you look in your purse or wallet and see it is empty?
Maybe you feel lonely and without friends?
And you look at your life and your past and maybe this has been so, for a long time, months and even years, but you look at your present moment and base it on your past and you maybe envision the same is to come and so you get lost in the tidal wave of sorrow and ‘what’s the point?’
Yet what is really happening when we do this, is we are looking at our lives through the lens of past or future, we are not actually here. We are not living, we are surviving through our story of suffering, because on some level we are scared that if we accept what is in our ‘now’, even if it is appears to be lacking in what we want, that if we accept what is here, that we will get more of this, that life is somehow conditional and not abundant or changing.
We look at life as if it never changes, we look at our perhaps poor health, be it physical or mental, we look at our relationships or the lack of them and we see them as static and unchanging based on our pain of our past story. What we don’t see is that life always changes, it may appear our life is not because we are focused on specific things changing and by doing so we can feel stuck.
It is like playing a record and focusing on the stuck part of the record, not simply picking up the stylus and moving it on to the next movement or song.
We can’t do this with our minds, but we can when we have ridden the wave, look at what is changing.
If you want change, you need to find change. It doesn’t matter if it appears those things you want are not changing, they may or may not change, but if you can change how you view other parts of your life, different to those attachments you have, you can see that life does change.
Beware – You May Be Scared of Change
If we are scared of change and change feels threatening to our identity of depression, fear, health issues, relationship issues we may focus on what we think is not changing and will never change. We may resist finding aspects of our lives that do change. And if this is the truth for you, please be kind to yourself. It Is okay if you don’t want change. Even if your mind says you do, unconsciously, a part of you is more comfortable staying the same. But sometimes the very awareness of this can bring about the inner change anyway.
So, if you want change and want to focus on change (not the lack of friends, money, relationships, good health etc etc), probably the easiest thing that changes daily is your breath, your body and the natural world.
Are the leaves changing on the trees?
Is the new bud coming up for spring?
Is the sky clouding over? Or the sun appearing?
Did you eat something different today?
Does water taste different on your tongue to how it tasted yesterday?
Is there a new scent in the air?
Focus on What Is Different
So, as I sit here, riding the wave of sorrow, knowing it is okay that sorrow arises. That I must be tender towards this sorrow, as this is part of riding the wave. I know that as the wave settles and I come to a more accepting place about reality and what is, I can turn my attention over to what is changing.
As someone who has felt stuck and felt like life never changes or gets better. I know that focusing on the movement, the changes that I can see happening is important for me now.
What is different?
And this means not focusing on what is different in a negative way. It is easy to think ‘Oh well okay, what is different? More pain today, my body hurts more’ etc. but this is not what is needed. I know I need to focus on what is different outside my sphere or personal expectation and attachment. I need to look outside my sphere or pain story.
So, what is outside of your sphere of pain story? What is changing that you can focus on, when you feel like your life is never going to change?
Sending you love, I hope this has eased your suffering in some way, if only to be aware of what is happening.
I understand how easy it is to get lost in the suffering. It is familiar, it is strangely intoxicating because we may have been doing it for several decades, we may have responded the same way to the challenges and so it is easy to sink straight back into the same way of responding to challenge.
So, take it easy as you move through this, don’t expect miracles, simply allow small, significant changes to take place.
Focus on the simple, not the complex.
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