We all go through tough times at one moment in time. Times that push our strength to the limit, our perseverance to the extreme and our patience runs out. Our tempers go out of the door never to be caught and of course we lift our hands, not in victory but in despair. That moment when no words make sense, when no effort seems to matter and we don’t seem to notice that someone, anyone really cares. As Ray Charles once sang “Cause there’ll be hard times…”, and don’t we all know it. Difficulties are a fact of life, and it isn’t easy to see how to get through them while you’re singing the blues. At this moment, all we want to do is drown in our sorrows, wallow in self pity and close ourselves in this dark pit and wish the sun would not rise even for one more day, we wish that our life should cease because even if it does, no one would notice our absence anyway. In that pit, we feel so alone, we are indeed alone. But are we ever alone really?
Life events can drive us to these low moments. The drivers range from relationships, self esteems, grief, divorce, money issues, peer pressure, rejection, sexual harassment, diseases, and anxiety among others. It comes from dissatisfaction from “the situation as it is” and “situation as how we would want it to be”. For instance, we would want to be in a perfect relationship, and at one point in time we get into one, but somehow it does not work out. We wanted it to work, but it did not. How much discrepancy shall exist in this situation, and how long we take to pick up the pieces and move on will determine how low we get. The situation may be worsened if we get into another relationship and it doesn’t work, and then we get into another, which still doesn’t work. At this point we revert to the inner self and start walking down the self pity street, as we convince ourselves of our unworthiness.
Many people have different suggestions and strategies on how to get over “it”. According to Jennifer Krause, in her book When the Going Gets Tough, she suggests some ways of how we can get through it. First, she says that we ought to not dwell in silence. This is reiterated by Wendy Mogel, PhD, a clinical psychologist based in Los Angeles and the author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, who explains that obstacles, setbacks, and losses are a vital part of experiencing the fullness, and even sweetness, of life. She further explains that the key is not shutting down in shame or walking around wearing the brittle mask of being ‘fine,’, it is on giving people the gift of being able to help you. We aren’t alone; we need to let someone special in when we in a dark place. We know who this person is, sometimes we don’t but they somehow come our way. We should not expect them to solve our problems; rather, we should just allow them to face your problems with us. We should give them permission to stand beside us. They won’t necessarily be able to pull us out of the dark place we are in, but the light that spills in when they enter will at least show us which way the door is.
Second, she says that we should be open to the bright side. Sometimes, our setbacks are just a stepping stones to greatness. For instance, Actress Annabelle Gurwitch was shattered when her hero Woody Allen fired her from one of his plays. She found solace in friends’ tales of termination and turned them into a play, documentary, and book, all called Fired! Only in the dark can we see the stars and the stars are our hope and we should earnestly look for them. The very least we can do in our life is figure out what we hope for, and the most we can do is live inside that hope as we work for what we want. We should not admire what we hope for from a distance, but live right in it and get deeply involved with the thoughts and activities that keep that hope alive and intention possible. Hope alone will not save us from despair. It however empowers us to strive and grow even when our circumstances are in shambles. The road that is built with hope is more pleasant than the road built in despair, even though they both may seem to lead us to the same place in the short-term; it is the positive growth we attain on our way to this temporary place that will benefit our final destination.
Third, she suggests allowing our spirit to move us. This is the ability not to ask ourselves, why us, but why not us. It is that belief that some things happen to mould us to be better, to make us stronger; they are gifts of God to us so that His name may be glorified through us. They may also be a lesson packed experience. For instance, it teaches us to learn to trust ourselves. This lonely moment where we face ourselves in our worst allows us to actually accept that person and tell him or her, to “Put your full trust in yourself by following your intuition and doing your best, and then move forward one step at a time with faith and confidence in the future”. In this way we develop confidence and faith in our abilities. If we have faith in our abilities, if we stay true to the path that feels right, if we channel our passion into action, we will ultimately achieve a breakthrough. In other words, as soon as we trust ourselves we will know how to heal and grow.
Finally, she states that tough times may seem like marathons, but the important thing to remember is they do come to an end. She affirms that we should not look at a snapshot and think it’s the whole movie. Just because yesterday was painful doesn’t mean today will be too. Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us. Today you have a choice to explore these parts of yourself. Give ourselves the needed time and permission to explore and heal. “Dear Past, thank you for all the life lessons you have taught me. Dear Future, I am ready now!” Because a great beginning always occurs at the exact moment you thought would be the end of everything.
Sometimes back, when I was going through trouble, one of my friends asked me, if it was someone else going through the same problems, what would you advise them? Taking a few steps and analyzing the situation from an outsider’s point of view allows us to be objective. So it is important, no matter how crazy it sounds that we isolate ourselves from the problems. Everything seems simpler from a distance. Sometimes we simply need to distance ourselves to see things more clearly. We are more than whatever is troubling us. A very real part of us exists beyond our worries, beyond our doubts, independent from the troubles and frustrations of the present moment. We ought to step back and observe ourselves as we experience each moment, watch ourselves as we think, as we take action, as we experience emotions and rationalize all this, and hence get an objective way to approach the situation. We should not allow our current troubles to cloud our thinking. “Take a few steps back and give yourself the benefit of this distance, and then give yourself some great advice”.
They say time heals all wounds. We need to give ourselves just that, time. Take all the time we need. Moving on doesn’t take a day; it takes lots of little steps, breath by breath, one step at a time, to be able to break free of our wounded self.
From all these strategies, we learn that we can handle these lows either alone in that inner being/voice speaking and guiding us, or with friends, parents, relatives or even strangers who can throw in a point or two. Either way, we are not alone. The presence of others, especially those dear to us, is a source of comfort, a daily inspiration that we will never walk alone. They connect us with the person we really are, since sometimes we cannot isolate ‘ourselves’ from the ‘suffering’ us. They constantly remind us that, “No, this is not you, you are stronger than this, and you are greater…” They are our unconditional support to the falling, shaky earth below our feet. They revitalize our esteem when all is lost, and remind us how beautiful, special, important and worthy we are. They are our acceptance when we cannot accept ourselves. They give us honest, unbiased opinions and will always have our best interests at their hearts. They reveal a fresh perspective to things, and how unexplored that path is, and reveal the benefits that would we otherwise be blind to. They make us grow as individuals where we become the very best of ourselves no matter how low and dirty we are at that point in time. Our individual walk will allow us to take a peek at the much we can bear therefore evaluate our worth in that situation. I have always said that we cannot boast of a value or virtue if it has not stood the test. Even gold is tested by fire and Iron purified by heat. If we claim we are strong, that strength will be tested and how far we rise after that test, determines our degree of strength. Job’s “love” for God was tested by destruction of that which he “loved” and cherished, his family, even his own reverence to God’s Holiness. But he emerged victorious because he withstood it all. Whatever is good in us must be tested. That who emerges is the hero within. Those who constantly remind us not to forget who we are are the heroes without. We are not alone, we are never alone. The heroes are within, the heroes are without…