Let’s be honest, if we had the choice, we’d all want to be happy most, if not all of the time; we’re only human after all. In reality, life is a little trickier than that.
The trouble with feeling low, sad or anxious is that they don’t feel like very friendly emotions! They feel, if anything, like some form of punishment for something we’ve done wrong. We judge the emotion, and we judge ourselves for feeling it, which in turn only makes us feel worse.
I’ve read before about diving into every moment in life, trusting that it is our friend and not our foe. Spiritual writers seem particularly keen for us to ‘trust what arises’, no matter how bad we may feel at times. If I happen to be in a difficult place when I come across these messages, my reaction is usually not a positive one!! “If only they knew how bad I feel and how hard I’ve been trying to stop feeling this way, they wouldn’t be encouraging me to dive in deep and accept what is!”
My go-to response to feeling a difficult emotion is often to look for the escape button, in whatever form that may take. Now please don’t misunderstand me here – I’m not in the least suggesting that you stop yourself from looking for support, guidance or comfort in your moments of darkness. I don’t know about you, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I’m not in this life alone, and whereas I absolutely must take responsibility for my own emotions, that does not mean that I have to do it alone. In fact, seeking support and guidance isn’t hitting the escape button – it’s a way of making what you’re feeling manageable and ensuring that you feel heard, understand and held. This is ALL GOOD and extremely important. Hitting the escape button, on the other hand, may include something that will temporarily numb the pain, but in the process prevent you from really experiencing what it is that is wanting to be seen. Think along the lines of a glass or two of wine, asking for reassurance instead of trusting that you can handle whatever life throws your way, or reaching out to someone you know gives you that rush of acceptance and approval, when what you really need is to accept and approve of yourself.
As I write this, I’m aware of how very hard it is to dive into the negative emotions that arise, and how much I still find myself wanting to fast-track my way to the good side of life. In fact, I’m writing this as an important reminder to myself, because it takes courage to sit with the ‘bad’ and trust that the ‘good’ will return. This stuff is hard guys! Like, super hard and gritty and painful and messy… It sucks, and I know it sucks, so please don’t think that I’m of the impression that any of this is easy.
It seems to me that there are a few key things to remember when it comes to navigating the darker side of life, and most of them have to do with trust… So get ready to learn how to trust, let go and allow life to unfold. It may seem scary, but it’s actually extremely empowering, and will help you to feel more connected with yourself and your fellow human beings. (Remember: no matter how alone you may feel, we are all in this together, and you are connected with every other living thing on the planet. The less ‘true’ this feels, the more you have to trust that it is).
- Your life is not meaningless and random – it is VERY meaningful and everything is always exactly as it should be.
- In every moment there are opportunities to trust more, let go of the need to control, and allow things to just ‘be’, knowing that life is always cheering you on and encouraging you to reach for joy.
- Trust that you are worthy of joy and happiness. Often, when we feel particularly bad, joy can seem like it’s a very long way from us indeed. What I’ve come to realise is that joy is always present within us; it’s our ability to tap into it and get past our mental and emotional blocks that matters. If joy seems far from your reach, consider that it may actually be closer to you than you could ever have imagined, just waiting for you to give yourself a break, learn to love yourself or let go of the past…
- Trust the journey that you are on. You know who you are, what phase of your life you are in, and what it is that you need to do to connect with that deep well of joy that exists inside you at all times. Don’t let the demons fool you into thinking that they know you better than you know yourself!! If anything, recognise that your fears are a natural part of being human, thank them for their concern, but ultimately remind them that they don’t get to call the shots. (NB: for more on living a more full and creative life in spite of the fear that arises for all of us, read ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert – you won’t regret it!)
- All of the above will help you to relax and breathe, anchoring you in the present moment, which ultimately is all that we ever have.
- Remember that breathing through the pain doesn’t mean accepting that this is how you will always feel. It is absolutely possible for you to accept pain and anguish, whilst dreaming of and trusting in a joyful future 🙂
- Remember that you are ALWAYS loved. If you need a little encouragement with this one, please listen to ‘In Dreams’ by Jai-Jagdeesh. It’s a beautiful song to play just before bedtime.
As I move through my life, I am becoming increasingly aware that the only version of life that makes sense to me is a magical one, where we are all connected in a giant cosmic journey. The more magic I allow to be present in my life, the deeper my sense of trust and belonging. I’ve tried living in a mundane world-view, and it felt so far from the truth, and brought me so much pain, that I have no choice now but to dive in deep to the spiritual life I feel strongly is calling to me. If you too feel the call of the wild, please consider reading some of Martha Beck’s many wonderful books. She is one crazy lady, in the best and most wonderful way. There are days when just remembering that she exists brings me a sense of relief and belonging. I love you Martha!
Now go forth and allow yourself to begin trusting in yourself and your journey.