Life can change in a split second… or sometimes slowly without us even knowing it. Either way, we can be floating along in the sunshine one minute and plunged into a dark ravine the next. And it’s up to us to climb back out. Sometimes all it takes is a little bunny hop. Sometimes it takes some wild eyed, breathless clawing. Sometimes It takes a few helping hands. But it always takes the serenity to breathe deep, plunder on and know the light will return.
I must admit that in my 32 years I have had my fair share of ridiculous shenanigans/bad luck/unfortunate circumstances/shit hit the fan – the kind of stuff that might make people feel uncomfortable or feel sorry for me (please don’t). However I have also been blessed with an amazing amount of fortune/luck/good will/generosity/love/good spirit – the kind that warms my heart to the point of setting it on fire. And over the course of these 32 years I have gone from being completely incapable of coping with the misfortune that came my way, to learning to ride the waves as best I can so that they just feel like a terribly tiring episode of a grade F tv show that should have never been made and aired on free to air television.
Now let me be clear here….
I am still a stress ball. I still lose my nut. I still cry. I still get cranky at inappropriate times. I still need to vent. I still stress eat. I am not some perfectly imperfect alien creature. What I do is find perspective on the darkness as it arrives and find ways to release the pressure as it builds.
My steps to surviving the darkness include:
1) The initial question: How bad really is it?
If you compare the situation to both others in your life and potential scenarios, is it worth getting upset over and worked up about? This pondering can determine a somewhat appropriate reaction. (Sometimes hysteria sets in when it’s uncalled for and we can nip it in the bud very quickly)
2) Action Plan
What has to be done to rectify the situation? Can you accomplish it alone, in what timeframe or do you need help? An action plan is always the key to control, some much needed answers and regaining equilibrium.
3) Letting Go
When you find yourself in a state of overwhelm or the darkness has become thick, long or heavy, it is good to let go of some of the other weights in your life. Cooking, cleaning, kids, work, social responsibilities – they can all be enjoyable (except cleaning – blerg!)but when you are heavy, they make you even heavier. Let go…. Just a little. It will all be there.
We live in a society where we tend to want to present a perfect happy image of ourselves – one where we don’t need any help. This is codswallop. Now I’m not saying to go and wipe your snot all over town, however if you have a few close friends that you can be honest about with your situation; let them know you are having a rough time or need a bit of help, I bet there will be generosity oozing out of them to make your life a little easier – a meal, watching the kids for an hour, picking up some groceries. These are small things for them but will send you closer to the light. (And you can always pay it forward when the light is shining bright and warming your skin).
5) Self Soothing
When you are feeling stressed beyond the norm, be kind to yourself. Whatever works for you. For me it’s burning nice oils, as many cups of tea as I can handle, a lovely heat pack on my neck and if I can stretch to it, a massage. When you are working overtime in survival mode or getting through a crisis, you must remember yourself. When you are looking after everyone else, you have to take care of yourself or you won’t be able to continue. It’s not selfish – it’s sensible. It would be selfish not to nurture the nurture.
I was going to add a sixth step which was patience. However on second thought I don’t really think this is a step. Darkness can come and go in a flash or it can feel like your world is imploding and it is getting heavier and thicker and you will never see the light again. Patience is indeed a virtue; however I believe it is more important to practice the above ideas with strength and courage, knowing that the hard times will pass. Life is beautiful, full of wonder and joy just waiting for us to experience it. Even the hard times are abundant with moments of light and joy. It is up to us to see them and experience them. We choose how we live our lives – why not dance in the rain?
Note if you are having trouble seeing the light or experiencing joy, go to: Beyond Blue for more information .