You won’t believe how many articles I have trawled through online over the past few weeks. I’ve Googled everything from “How to heal a broken heart” and “Does grief ever end?” to “How to help your child navigate your broken family” and “How to start again in middle age.”
Sad that I’m turning to Google for answers, I know.
Google can be like a fish bowl. We’re all looking into each others lives hoping someone in there has the answers. We Google our medical problems, our emotional problems, our “how to” problems.
Google, it seems, has become the Guru of All Things.
But the answer lies with me, not Google
Yes, I mess around on Google—usually when I’m feeling bored or desperate—but I don’t truly believe Google has the answer. I know the answer lies within me.
When life is hard the bravest and most important thing we can do is look the truth square in the eye (tweet that!) The truth about ourselves, others, and the situation we’re facing. This is not the time to run and hide; this the time to show up like we’ve never show up before. And it’s the time to look inside rather than block the pain with addictions, work, TV…you name it.
Looking inside is terrifying; I don’t deny that. It means facing (and embracing) our biggest fears—loneliness, not being loved, self-doubt, rejection…[insert fear]—but if we deny what brought us to the pain in the first place we can’t grow or come out the other side. Hot baths and a shot of whiskey just won’t cut it. This is the time to get real about our shortcomings.
Recognize the blessing
It’s my strong belief that we experience in life the things necessary to transform us and bring us to a new state of awareness. That doesn’t mean these things are good, right or fair; it means they are the particular experiences that will bring us closer to our true selves and our purpose—our own unique set of curve balls we need to learn how to pick up and run with, rather than dodge. These are the experiences that, if we allow it, will transform us in ways that will deepen and strengthen not only our own life experience, but the experiences of those who know us.
The blessing is the transformation, but in the midst of difficulty and pain it can be hard to see. Sometimes you just have to tie a knot, hang on, and know that on the other side you will emerge a stronger person with a greater sense of what matters to you and what you need in your life.
Transformation is painful but it always leads us into something new and beautiful (tweet that!)
Know you’re not alone
Whether life throws us a few curve balls, or brings us to our knees in desperation, it can at times feel like we’re walking the path alone and no one could possibly have the solution to our unique set of problems, or even understand them. I know for myself the hardest part of my journey so far has been feeling that I am alone in my pain. But for every problem we face, thousands of others have been exactly where we are and made it through to the other side.
I’m not afraid of opening up and being vulnerable, so I’ve sought help from various friends and professionals, and I’m learning that whilst others can, and hopefully will, hold my hand along the way, none of them can walk through the mud for me. I can sit with people in my pain but I have to navigate it alone—there’s no way around that one.
However navigating the pain alone and being alone are two different things. We all need someone to walk alongside us when we lose our way, and whether those people are physically or spiritually with us, we are never truly alone.
You can do this
You are braver and stronger than you think (tweet that!) I tell myself this every day. Some days it’s all I can do to just breathe, while other days I roll up my sleeves and feel like I could take on the world. Both are okay. Both are what it means to be human and living through the mess of life.
Just know that when you believe you can’t do this, you can. You just have to decide you can and you will. Strength is often a choice. Believe in yourself, in your values, your dreams, your beliefs and your passions. Don’t lose yourself in your fear and your pain. Be brave and know you can do this.
Life was never meant to be a painting of perfection. With the sun comes the rain; with light comes darkness. If we don’t fall, we can’t learn how to rise; if we don’t suffer, we can’t truly know joy. No matter where you are today, know that you are exactly where you need to be, and if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.
What is the biggest challenge you are facing in your life right now? This could be something as specific as the loss of a loved one, or as general and uncomfortable as everyday stress. Usually the first thing that comes to mind is the one that is knocking on the door of your subconscious mind needing attention.
Set aside a few minutes of your day to sit with a notepad or journal (or even your laptop) and write you your answers to the following questions:
1. What are the feelings that surface when I allow myself to sit with the pain/discomfort of this issue in my life?
2. What is the story I am telling myself about this situation and how much truth is there in that story? This one can be tricky – you need to really listen to the messages you are sending to yourself, such as the one I had when my husband left—”I’ll always be alone now.” The goal with this prompt is to separate truth from fiction and learn to see the reality of a situation rather than a story you tell yourself.
3. Write the words, “I can do this” on your page. Then write a list of all the reasons why you can do this. Don’t allow yourself to think of any barriers that will impede your growth. Tap into your strength, resources, and the people who love you.
4. Ask yourself what is the blessing in this situation. Sometimes it can be impossible to see, but if all you can say right now is, “I know I will be stronger for this,” then this is enough.
Let me know how you make out!