Things people say in an effort to comfort us when we are stressed or feeling down, such as “It is always darkest before the dawn” are intended to make us feel better… to make us “see the light” and realize that whatever darkness we are experiencing at the moment “that this too shall pass” but more often than not, these well intended catch phrases have the unintended effect of causing us to spiral further down the rabbit hole of our self-imposed misery.
Trapped In The Closet
When we’re feeling down and feeling trapped, when we feel all alone and that our life lack’s purpose, or that our actions and past decisions have caused our life to derail and can’t seem to find our way back on to the correct path, it is normal to fear that things will never be right again… welcome to the human experience, it is not designed to be perfect because if we did not face challenges from day to day, we simply would not grow as individual human beings.
However part of the challenge when we find ourselves feeling trapped and walking alone through the darker moments of life, is to not allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with blame and self-loathing. The natural reaction is spiral down the slippery slope of self-pity and blame because in the moment this may seem easier than facing the challenge head-on. Not only does engaging in a cycle of blame and self-pity seem easier, it probably is easier than trying to turn things around, than taking personal responsibility for whatever has occurred, for the current state of our lives and perhaps this is why so many people seem stuck in an endless cycle of misery, hate and self-harm.
Take Responsibility and Take Control
The first step towards turning things around is to take personal responsibility and to make a pledge to yourself that you are going to turn things around. This may seem “easier said than done” but it’s kind of like walking from one side of a room to the other, it all begins with the first step and becomes easier once you rise up off of the floor and get some momentum headed in the right direction.
If you find your love life in a constant state of conflict, try apologizing for your contribution to the situation and resolve to be more understanding and patient. And this next part can be a bit challenging… don’t expect the other person to apologize, nor take responsibility for their part in the equation because at this point they are not seeing the dynamics of the interaction from where you are standing and they lack the same perspective. In fact, the reality is that they could be standing right next to you, staring off in the same direction, seeing the exact same thing and still not be able to see it from your perspective because each person interprets things from their own perspective which is immediately created from the inner-workings of their belief system which has been built upon their personal experiences and interpretations of life.
So love them enough to appreciate that they might just not be able to see things from your perspective and that maybe you can’t see things from their perspective, but that it might just be all right for the two of you to share an experience and see things differently. Apologize for your contribution to whatever occurred and resolve to let it go and love them unconditionally.
Give Yourself Permission to be Human
You might not be feeling all that amazing right now, but the reality is that each and every one of us is an amazing creation. But what makes us feel bad when we’re spiraling out of control and people tell us things like this is that, in the moment, we don’t feel like we can live up to such high expectations… when we’re feeling down and lonely and trapped in the dark and somebody tells us “it’s always darkest before the light” we might feel as if something is wrong with us because we might feel like we’re not going to be able to make it to the light of day, that the darkness has enveloped us, swallowed us whole or perhaps we wish that it simply would. I assure you that all of this is normal and that every human being on the planet experiences these feelings at some point in their lives… even Strategic Intervention Coaches like myself! Why yes it’s true, how do you think I found myself on this career path?
Take Something Bad and Make It Good
On February 1st of 2004, I lost a 24 year old daughter to a rare bone marrow disease known as Fanconi A-Plastic Anemia. On June 1st of 2005, fifteen months later, my wife committed suicide as a result of the pain caused by losing our daughter. I returned home from work that day to find her corpse sitting in a chair in our master bedroom, her brains splattered all over the wall, her feet sitting in a pool of blood and urine, an empty bottle of pills on the desk before her laying on top of seven pages of paper which comprised the insane ramblings of her suicide note (front and back). I lost my mind.
And then I lost my house, the company which my wife owned and operated, and my career because I had worked alongside her to build that company from the ground up… but not entirely because of losing my mind, that was merely the beginning, her family filed a lawsuit against me, the estate and the company shortly after her death in an effort to rob me of the life and assets which she and I had worked so hard to obtain. And the reality is that their efforts paid off even though they lost the lawsuit… the litigation lasted almost five years and during that time the company and myself were frozen in time, but largely by the paralysis of fear which I allowed to grow and live within the chasms of my mind.
I don’t share this with you so that you can feel sorry for me, I don’t even share this with you so that you might you might feel as if we have something in common, but rather I share this with you because I want you to understand that without experiencing these dark moments of my life, I would not have become the person who I am today. I had spent 25+ years in the diamond business as a diamond buyer and diamond grader, the only contribution which I made in life was to help people select a beautiful diamond for their engagement ring and the occasional monetary contribution which I made to a charity, usually via something which I purchased at a charity auction.
Shortly after the conclusion of the litigation, I had an epiphany that the experience which I had gained “from all of this” might be useful to other people… that by sharing my experience and the knowledge of self-awareness which I had gained along the journey with other people, that they might be able to recover faster and move on with their lives sooner than I had been able to do so myself.
Practicing the Attitude of Gratitude
Believe it or not, I am grateful for the challenges which I have faced in this this life because they have forced me to walk through fire and I have come out stronger on the other side. It has honestly however taken me quite some time to be able to appreciate the events of the past seven and a half years… but what has helped me to create the current state of bliss which I enjoy at this stage of my development and which helped me enthusiastically embark on this journey of personal growth and personal development is practicing an attitude of gratitude on a daily basis.
At the beginning of my training as a Strategic Intervention Coach, our instructors Tony Robbins, Mark Peysha and Cloe Madanes would continually encourage the students to express gratitude for all of the wonderful things in our lives… and it pissed me off. After all, what did I have to be grateful for? My life was ruined… I had lost a daughter, my wife had killed herself, the company which we had built was all but dead, her family was suing me, I had lost the house, lost the cars, lost the boat… my life sucked and there was nothing to be grateful for. “Oh sure, it’s easy for you to be grateful (directed at Tony, Cloe and Mark) because your lives are perfect, but mine sucks…” was the thought spinning in my head and being muttered with just a little bit of venom through my pursed lips.
Are You “FRAK-ing” Kidding Me?!?!
Believe it or not, the appropriate response to the challenge “I have nothing in my life to be grateful for!” is something along the lines of “If you wanted to be grateful for something in your life, what could you be grateful for?” Oh yea, that pissed me off… because it was an open challenge to the belief structure which I had created to justify the state of my existence at the time.
The current state of our reality is created by the triad of Focus, Language and Physiology, which in turn create the foundation of our belief structure and therefore our reality. At that point in my life, my focus was on everything which had happened to me, upon everything which I had lost… and what Tony, Mark and Cloe were trying to do was teach me to focus on something more positive. Like running water, hot running water, I suppose that if I had to be grateful for something that I could be grateful for hot running water… and the fact that I had a roof over my head, and food on my table, and a beautiful girlfriend (at the time) who loved me and who could recognize my potential (and still does, we remain friends) and as I began to recognize small things, seemingly insignificant things in my life for which I could be grateful (if I wanted to be grateful for something) I realized that I was actually beginning to feel better and grateful for the little things in my life!
Change Your Focus ~ Change Your Mind
Imagine what life could be like if it was possible to elevate your mood in a short amount of time by simply focusing on the things which you could be grateful for in your life if you wanted to be grateful for something… and I’m here to tell you that it is possible to change your focus and thereby change your mood, literally that fast by simply changing your focus.
Feeling down? Feeling depressed? Feeling sorry for yourself? Everybody experiences these feelings and emotions during the course of their lives, but at some point they also experience happiness, joy, excitement and elation. All emotions result from a state-of-mind and are within our control. You have the ability to change the state of your emotions simply by changing your focus, language in the form of self-talk and your physiology.
Pick Yourself Up and Dust Yourself Off
The fastest way to pull yourself out of a tailspin is to pull up on the throttle of your emotions and change direction. The opposite of depression is what? At one end of the spectrum is might be “happiness” especially if you believe that you are bi-polar… or it might simply be “feeling good” depending on the range of your personal emotional thermostat. Regardless the reality is that every emotion, every state of being, has a polar opposite which is within our control to experience.
People who are engaged in a state of depression, are usually sullen, overly relaxed in a state of listlessness… their head is tilted downwards, their shoulders might be sloped forward, their physical state is relaxed even though their mind might be racing with fear and anxiety. The polar opposite of a depressed state is standing or sitting upright, head positioned in an upright and alert manner, body moving with purpose… Our bodies are amazing creations equipped with the capability to produce a variety of chemical responses created by hormones which are released in response to various stimulants.
These chemicals are designed to stimulate us into having an appropriate physical and emotional response to various events in our lives. Sometimes these chemicals are produced to stimulate us into taking action which might save our lives and other times they are released to calm us back down after an alarming event.
So a quick way to change your state from depressed to either that of “feeling good” or possibly “happy” is to simply pick yourself up off the floor, dust yourself off, turn on some music which will elevate your state and dance around the room. Kick off your heels and dance, yell at the top of your lungs, sing, do whatever it takes to snap you out of your current state and your body will release a flood of chemicals into your brain and enable you to experience another state which is more positive.
You have the amazing capability to control your emotional state, you can change your mood from depressed and sad to happy and excited and you can do it anywhere at any time if you think about it… nobody really cares if you’re singing at the top of your lungs and banging away on your steering wheel while you’re driving down the freeway, sure they might get a chuckle or two out of it, maybe seeing you let it all hang out will improve their day also and the world might be a better place for it having happened.
Be Kind When Talking to Yourself
I mentioned that the key to controlling your emotional state was to control your emotional triad of Focus, Language and Physiology. If whatever we focus upon becomes our reality and how we use our bodies (physiology) can affect our mood by elevating the levels of hormones which contribute to positive emotions, then you might imagine that the language which we use when we talk to ourselves might have a profound effect upon how we see ourselves.
When we say negative things about ourselves and other people, we quite literally create a negative state of emotion. The natural response to this is to tell ourselves (and our clients) to be more positive, think more positive, practice the art of positive thinking and this can be a two edge sword because it can cause people to feel as if even more is wrong with them because they aren’t able to think positive ~ and so there is just one more thing which is wrong with them (from their perspective).
But the basic premise is true… if you make an effort to be more positive, the fact is that you will experience more positive things in your life. So when you say something negative about yourself, such as “I’m so fat” or “Why can’t I ever do anything right?” give yourself permission to acknowledge that it is simply a knee-jerk reaction which has been ingrained within your psyche for an extended period of time and then remind yourself that it simply is not true.
The belief “I’m so fat” can be turned into a positive simply by saying “but I’m making better choices about the foods that I eat and I’m exercising more and I can see that I’m looking better and better every day…” it might feel strange at first, but just like gratitude, it becomes easier with time and even a child learns to walk by taking baby steps in the beginning.
Practice Being Kind to Yourself
I’ve given you a lot to think about in this article, I want to leave you with this… take a few moments each day to practice being kind to yourself. We tend to focus on all of the things which we need to accomplish each day and are often kinder and more accommodating to the needs of complete strangers than we are to ourselves and our loved ones.
Take 30 minutes out of your day and go for a walk to clear your head and get back in touch with yourself… take a bubble bath… sit outside and read a good book… make yourself a warm cup of tea and simply enjoy sipping it while you listen to some good music… get a massage, spoil yourself. Not only will you feel better (eventually you’ll get over the guilt, I promise) but you will be helping the people around you in your life to feel better because they will be able to see that you are more relaxed and cheerful.
I hope that you found this article to be interesting and enlightening… I hope that you will share it with your friends and loved ones and that you will leave a comment below. Feel free to Contact Me if you would like to discuss how Strategic Intervention Coaching can improve your life and help with your personal development and growth. I work with clients all over the world via Skype via the username “BoldSuccess” and if you’d like to see how I was able to turn our online diamond business around take a look at NiceIce.com which now provides diamond buying advice to consumers and generates an income for me once more. Everything which we experience in life has a season, the season of growth which is spring always follows the cold darkness of winter… sometimes we just need somebody to guide us along the journey.
And yes for the record, I am a total geek, I did use expletive “FRAK” as part of a section header way up there… if you don’t know what it means, it was a word used on the television show Battlestar Galactica (FRACK) and later on Caprica (FRAK) as a sanitized alternative for the expletive “Fuck” ~ which I also obviously use.