When people are confronted with difficulties, with negative feelings, when they already feel overwhelmed by them, in many cases, the feeling of powerlessness appears. It often happens that their condition deteriorates with each day that passes, but caught in the tumult of everyday life, they choose not to pay much attention to this.
They don’t take the time to ask themselves questions, to spend some time with themselves and realize what they feel, why they feel what they feel, what’s the reason, what triggered those feelings, if they have to make some changes or not. They are going forward this way until they get the feeling that they can’t do anything anymore.
Within us there is a "compass" that always guides us and we can call it inner voice, intuition, our true self and so on. When we move away from the right path for us, when we compromise ourselves in one way or the other, when we "distance" from ourselves by not listening to our needs, by lying to ourselves, by self-deluding, by accepting things, situations or toxic people in our lives, our emotional, physical and mental well-being begins to deteriorate.
Maybe we don’t realize this thing until something terrible happens to us, that something that is like the last straw that breaks the camel’s back and wakes us up to reality. To make an analogy, is like we are gaining more weight with each day that passes, and after two years we look in the mirror and we are shocked and surprised by the way we look, because we don’t understand how something like that could happen. Well, this happens because we don’t pay attention to every single day. We think that "this doesn’t count", "it happens only once" or "it’s the last time I do / accept this". But if we think this way, every day, surely the fact that we lie and delude ourselves won’t erase the final effect of our deeds.
Similarly, in the case of negative mental and emotional states that are repeated every day, if we live in a destructive environment, when we don’t take care of ourselves, when we basically put anything or anyone first, we can reach in time a critical point of our life that we feel we can never overcome, we feel anxious, depressed, hopeless. We get sick and we don’t understand why.
To prevent this, the best solution is to try to become more aware with each day that passes, that is to learn to live more consciously. For example, before starting to eat, let's think if that food is really nutritious for us, or it's simply empty calories that we feel the need to eat for emotional reasons - because we feel alone, we are bored, we feel empty inside and we think that a full stomach also means a full soul and so on.
When we accept to make compromises or favors, although we don’t want it, let us think what’s the reason why it’s so difficult for us to adopt a firm and assertive attitude, to say “no”. Are we afraid we will be rejected, abandoned? Are we afraid people won’t like us anymore? Are we afraid that they will judge us in one way or another, that they’ll tell us that we are selfish, that they’ll try to manipulate and emotionally blackmail us and we will give up? Let us be aware of the effect it has on us constantly accepting things against our will. Let us become aware of the effect of always accepting to do things against our will. Let us think what’s that sensible spot we have that makes us act this way. Let us try to find the problem’s cause and solve it, instead of continuing to act automatically.
When our relationship makes us suffer and burdens our existence, let us think what are the real reasons for which we don’t succeed to make the final step and get out of that relationship, instead of finding excuses and justifications. Are we afraid of loneliness? Don’t we want to give up on our emotional, financial, time and energy investment? Have we lied to ourselves so far that things aren’t so bad? Have we lived in self-deception and compromise?
Even if we’ve been on a wrong path for years and years, it’s never too late to change the direction or even start it all over again. There are people who have realized even in the last moment that the way they’ve been living caused them suffering and problems and chose to make the necessary changes, with or without help, people who felt relieved of a great burden, who have regained their vitality, their joy of living, their self-confidence.
We are much stronger than we think, but maybe we didn’t know yet how to use our inner strength, maybe we didn’t give us the chance to head to the unknown, to make the changes we are longing for so much. Every step we take in the direction we now fear is transforming the unknown into the known. Change means uncertainty, unknown. In the first phase, it's like entering a dark room, but as you move forward, things begin to look more clearly, you discover new ways to go, you begin to see things around you that can help you, you discover opportunities. Thus, with every step taken, the unknown becomes known and the darkness becomes light.
All these fears in our mind are just illusions, like soap bubbles. In fact, the danger doesn’t lay in what exists after we make the change, but before it. The danger comes from our imagination, because we think of all those things that could go wrong, of all kind of imagined dangers, without realizing that we have an amazing capacity to adapt and that perhaps we are more resilient than we think.
And if we are in a moment of our life where we can’t see the exit, or a solution, let’s try to consider the possibility that this could also be an illusion of our mind. There is a solution to everything in life, however impossible it may seem. If we can’t do it alone, let’s ask for help. There is no shame in it. There is no sign of weakness. Think about it - if you are locked in a dark room without knowing where the exit is, what do you prefer: to sit alone in a corner feeding your fear or to explore the space, trying to find solutions even in the dark? To shout for help considering the idea that this way someone could really hear you? What I want to emphasize here is that when we haven’t managed to find a solution on our own or in those critical moments when we would rather not live than continue to live like this, when we no longer can access our personal resources, there is always a better solution to ask for help instead of completely giving up. This thing doesn’t mean that we become dependent on that help, it doesn’t mean we will put our life in other people’s hands, but sometimes we simply need a hand to help us get up, and "being up" we can continue to work on ourselves, to heal ourselves, to "fix" what we have to fix.
And how can we fix or heal something if we don’t admit that we have a problem, if we choose to continue to live in the dark refusing to see the future? When we admit that we aren’t as well as we pretend to be, the healing process is already starting.
Nothing is forever. If you now feel desperate and hopeless, think that you can’t live like this for the rest of your life because you have the ability to make changes - to change your attitude and the way you perceive things that don’t depend on you, to act differently regarding the things that depend on you. The thought of "I will live unhappily" the rest of my life is also a personal choice. If you don’t accept this affirmation as true, your mind begins to work to find solutions. But if you strongly believe it will be so, your mind will no longer have to make an effort confronted with the "final verdict".
If we manage to see a darker period of our existence not as a prison without an exit, but as a stage in our life’s journey that we can overcome, alone and / or asking for help, we are already beginning to bring to light more resources. From a broader perspective like this, we may think we are not experiencing difficulties or negative feelings because we deserve to be punished or because we aren’t lucky, but we can see the hardships as opportunities that make us stronger and wiser, which help us to know ourselves better, to give up toxic patterns for us, to become more aware of the way we think and of the consequences of our deeds.
In the end I will conclude with three things:
- everything in life has a solution, only death is final;
- most of our fears are illusory or as Michel de Montaigne said: "My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.";
- we are much stronger and more resilient than we think and it’s our duty to believe in ourselves, otherwise said, it’s our moral duty in front of life - not to be defeated, not to give up on ourselves, to make our best to live every day satisfied and at peace with ourselves and with our lives, to make a change when nothing makes us happy anymore, to believe that we will succeed.
Because we can and we are worthy of it!
Dr. Ursula Sandner