If you have been feeling a sense of discouragement, desperation or hopelessness; if you feel like you’ve hit a wall inside and out and think you can’t go on another day, and yet you do, but still there’s something pulling you way down into the abyss; I just wanted to let you know that you are definitely not alone! The waves of loss and grief — especially with all the deeper awakening and reckoning around the social injustice in our country — are hitting home in a big way, and it’s very easy to feel the weight of it all.
I was on a Zoom call with a group of friends the other day and many were sharing that they were going through a lot, experiencing overwhelm and lack of emotional control. However, one of my friends said, “I actually feel very calm, content, and trusting, and I just keep going on,” and another friend replied, “What are you made of, steel?”. He was taken aback and felt judged for expressing that he was doing OK, and he said, “Let me explain. I have found a deep place of acceptance in me with what’s been going on. It keeps me going in helping others in the ways that I can, and it gives me a sense of optimism that things won’t always be this way. There will be a dawn to a new day and a brighter tomorrow.” My other friend asked, “How do I know that?” To which he answered, “Humanity has always gone through horrific things and has come out the other side. That doesn’t mean I don’t have compassion for the people who are struggling so much, I just don’t want to feel that I have to apologize for feeling OK.” So if you are feeling OK, strong, optimistic, resilient, and are even able to keep your joy alive at this time, please don’t feel guilty about that, because we could use more people who are centered, strong, and solid in themselves. But for anyone who is feeling the wave of the downward spiral, I wanted to share a few tips on how to come out of it.
I personally see this challenging time of the coronavirus, the lockdown, uncertainty, and insecurity in our country, the racism and hatred, as an incredible battle for the human spirit. Anyone who’s withstood huge challenges, against-ness, injustice, and loss of everything can become a role model for the resilience of the human spirit. So ask yourself, what can you do to bring peace to yourself at this time? How can you exercise your wisdom? How can you bring forward your perspective on these unprecedented times? How can you listen to the wise voice in you that guides you to do the little things every day that can bring you into balance?
One of the biggest keys I use to shift is prayer — prayer from the part that feels loneliness, turmoil, and wants to give up and cave in, to calling forward the God part of me that stands tall, that is strong and fearless and can rise beyond the circumstances. One of my favorite sayings is, “God is not a being, but a state of being,” and at each moment of our lives and with each breath we have a choice to attune ourselves to that higher state of being which is available to us at any point. So I see prayer as a lifeline and a bridge between the part that feels discouraged, overwhelmed, hopeless, etc. to the higher part that is expanded and at peace right now. Through prayer, I start to feel embraced by it, and it becomes this bridge between the human part and the God part.
The emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, withstood the plague for 14 years and, in his book Meditations, he shares the wisdom of his journey and talks about examining everything you encounter in your life and using it for your growth and advantage. He writes, “If you are troubled by external circumstances, it is not the circumstances that trouble you, but your own perception of them and they are in your power to change at any time.” So whenever you are feeling the downward spiral, consider this: that the negative voice in you is whispering toxic messages, saying, “There’s no meaning to this. You should give up. You can’t handle this. This is too much, it’s overwhelming. I’ll never come out of this. I’m all alone. I feel hopeless. I don’t know how to manage my life. I can’t take another day of this; etc., etc.” Take charge of that voice and choose messages and qualities that can empower, nurture, steady and ground you — qualities like courage, self-reliance, humor, generosity, compassion, reverence, humility, gratitude, and loving — and as Marcus Aurelius tells us, “This too comes from God and no matter what, I will treat everything remembering that it has no power to weaken me, to pay me harm unless I let it.” So give meaning to this time and find your purpose, and it will be easier to cross over to the other side.
But if you’re judging yourself, pressuring yourself to feel differently, and pushing against how the world is unfolding, those judgments are bound to lock you into the state of feeling like a victim. I believe that those who will rise in this battle of the human spirit are definitely the people who are not going to feel victimized by what’s happening, but are going to see this as a golden opportunity to use everything — their conditions and their inner emotional upheavals — as grist for the mill, and will hear the calling of their spirit that needs no compromise or defense, but is as flexible as the wind, light as a feather, and mighty and grounded as the strongest mountain.
What contributes to this state of mind and where we will win the battle is when we allow our hearts, in the midst of everything, to stay open, soft and tender, forgiving and loving. In choosing that over and over and over again, you can experience the power of the unbound heart and the sweetness of life in the midst of the crisis. Don’t let anyone rob you of your smile, your sweetness, and the twinkle of your eye; these will become your weapons against the harshness, the judgments, the despair and the discouragement that creep in and can run you over before you know it. Don’t let it happen. Don’t let the darkness in you win. Outsmart it with the power of your presence that lies in your peace, and trust that you don’t walk alone in this, but with the mighty force of the spirit that gives life to all things.
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