Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.
~Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
To be alive is a beautiful thing. But it can also be downright painful. It seems, the more we commit to leading open, heart-centered lives— the more we have to lose. Cancer strikes someone we love, the perfect position slips through our fingers, we get that call. In minutes, the foundation we’ve so carefully constructed is torn out from under us. We are catapulted into a new reality (one we didn’t ask for) and we scramble around like infants all over again, unsure of our next move. Here’s what you’d do well to remember in times of dizzying sadness:
- Talk it out. It’s the oldest advice in the world for a reason: it works. By hashing it out with someone you trust, you immediately remove the sting of isolation and the thought that no one understands. It also provides an important opportunity to connect with someone who cares, reinforcing our need for love and belonging, but also initiating a powerful release. When we form a dialogue around our pain, we can begin to detach from it. The sadness becomes less of a stigma and more something we can sit down at the kitchen table with.
- Rely on the big, bad universe. I promise you, however it may seem at the moment, God is not out to punish you and the world is not a cruel, scary place. But these are the thoughts that creep into our skulls during times of unrelenting stress or hardship. Instead of rejecting these thoughts for their completely natural occurrence, thank them for showing you how to have more faith. We can only be supported to the degree we’re willing to surrender. Get okay with letting go: the universe has your back.
- Do something utterly unexpected. This could be as simple as chopping off your perpetually long locks or as dramatic as taking a solo vacation across the continent. The point is—do something that shocks the system so a magical rewiring of the brain can begin. When we put ourselves in foreign situations, we learn a great deal about who we are and what we’re capable of. You might find your life’s work or the love of your life. Either way, it’ll be an expansive experience and those always facilitate healing.
- Allow yourself to cry, a lot. Let’s face it—some of us really know how to lubricate those tear ducts, while others seldom shed a tear. But I promise you this: when you’re going through something difficult, crying becomes an essential part of the grieving process. It’s one way we give physical expression to all those suppressed emotions. Let’s be clear—your grief and anger are going to come out one way or another. Why not allow yourself a healthy sob session? You’ll be a happier person for it.
- Appreciate the daily magic. When we’re going through something difficult, it’s often easy to forget how much beauty remains in the world. We fail to notice the sweet melody of our favorite songs or the way our mate makes our coffee just right. Take a moment, wherever you’re at, to find just a dollop of joy for what remains in this wondrous world, instead of what’s missing. And never forget just how lucky you are to be a part of it all.