Kim Forrester on how to survive the dark times.
They are days you want to roll up into a ball and disappear into a dark hole. They are the days you want to go to bed and just sleep until everything feels better. The days and moments where your body reverberates with agonising energy, your heart feels so wounded it physically aches and your mind simply cannot focus on anything other than the pain. I know those days and, I am sure, so do you.
Life is an incredible symphony of experience and, regardless of how happy, content and optimistic you are, there will be dark days to confront and endure. It’s natural. It’s normal. It’s part of being human.
For many, the natural inclination in these dark moments is to focus on being “strong”. To fight; withstand; push through; conquer. But the natural fact is that you are already strong enough to endure anything and your body, your mind and your soul are resilient enough to make it through even the toughest, darkest situations. You will breathe, you will awake, you will continue and you will overcome.
So, it is not strength you need to summon on those dark, dark days; that is a quality inherent within you. Instead, there are five pillars of light that can help you find your way through any darkness; five flickers of grace that can ease the burden of any situation. These assets are also in your emotional tool-box and I believe it is these qualities that you are wise to search for within yourself, when the road seems most unbearable:
The first step in healing a situation – really healing it – is to allow yourself the opportunity to be honest. Firstly, be honest about how you feel. That means all of your emotions, not just the ones on the surface or the ones that are socially acceptable. By acknowledging and confronting everything you feel, you take the power away from your emotions. They can no longer control you.
Secondly, be honest about your own actions, choices and intentions that may have contributed to the current situation. This can be hard to do, as we are often taught that that there is a “right” and a “wrong” and we have been encouraged to judge ourselves and others if the “right” path is not followed. However, if you can be honest with yourself about your past choices, you open yourself up to a new level of understanding.
If you can find the grace to forgive others for their actions, you can truly set yourself free from pain. Deepak Chopra teaches us to “forgive others, not because they deserve it, but because you deserve it.” Forgiveness does not mean you condone someone’s actions or intent; it does not excuse someone for their behaviour or pardon them from all consequence. Instead, forgiveness is the intimate act of accepting what was, and what is. It is a powerful surrender to the fact that what has happened cannot be changed.
Forgiveness for others is often encouraged but remember, it is just as important to forgive yourself – for the emotions you feel, the actions you take, the words you say and the choices you make. You deserve your own mercy. Please offer if freely.
If you have a religion that inspires you, turn to it. If you have spiritual belief that resonates with you, embrace it. If you have an intimate connection to magick, or nature, or energy, or a more practical belief in the intelligence and fortitude of humankind, summon it. As Plato said, “We are twice armed if we fight with faith”.
There can be a purpose, a reason, for any dark experience. Drawing upon faith can either reveal that purpose to you, or help you design one that will carry you forward.
Gratitude is immensely powerful. If you can find one thing to be grateful for, for just a few seconds, then it is a few seconds that you are not living in the darkness. In those moments of gratitude, your body will respond, your emotions will begin to heal and you will open yourself up to wondrous new solutions and opportunities.
In times of great challenge, you are certainly not expected to be grateful for the “big things”. What is important is the ability to find something to give thanks for in a way that resonates through your entire body with truthfulness and conviction. “I am so grateful I had the self-control not to hit that guy!” or “I am grateful for the pain, for it means I have loved” or “I am grateful that the children are being taken care of and aren’t here to witness this.” There is no judgement on what you are thankful for; your sincere gratitude is what counts.
Too often, we shy away from vulnerability in our darkest moments because, somehow, it has come to be regarded as the opposite of strength. But the truth is that if you can allow your pain, anguish or suffering to be fully revealed in a safe space, then your experience becomes so much more authentic. This in turn makes your personal insights deeper, your connections with others (and yourself) more truthful and your eventual healing more profound.
Most importantly, being comfortable with your own vulnerability allows you to ask for, and accept, help from the healthiest sources – unconditionally loving friends and family, wise mentors or trusted professionals.
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