Today was one of those days when I woke up and for no apparent reason I was feeling a little lower in spirits than usual. I began to wonder why. Maybe it’s the cold, rainy, dreary weather and lack of sunshine as winter officially sets in. Maybe it’s a subtle feeling of discouragement as I come up against obstacles along the path to my dream and as I focus on how far I have yet to go to my goal. Perhaps it’s a combination of fears that have crept into my subconscious and affected my mood. Fear of failure is always high on the list and then of course, there’s fear of everything that comes with success. Or maybe it’s a bout of loneliness that triggered my fear of never finding the relationship I long for and of being alone for the failure or the success. Blah blah blah!
Ok that’s enough. This is how our minds work a lot of the time and if we don’t catch ourselves, we can get completely submerged in destructive thinking.
There are two levels to this pattern. The first is that when I wake up feeling a slight change in my mood, my first response is to assume that something is wrong and to go hunting for a reason. Well, we’re all professionals at that and when we go in search of evidence for why we’re feeling down, we’re bound to come up with plenty of great stories. Oh how we love our stories!
The fact is, there is an ebb and flow to life. There are highs and lows. There is bitter and sweet. There are gray days and sunny days and it’s all part of the package. If it were peaches, sunshine and roses all the time we’d probably get bored pretty quickly.
The second level is that we resist the mood and immediately try to “fix” it or escape it. In some instances this takes the form of eating, drinking, doping, buying, consuming, or indulging our way out of the problem. In other instances, we run, we hide, we deny, we slam on the brakes and shut down completely.
The bottom line is that the idea that we’re supposed to be on a high all the time is misleading and it can cause us to have false expectations. It’s no wonder that we live in a world mired in addictive behaviors aimed at escaping the lows that we all inevitably experience.
What I’ve been learning is that the best way to cause a shift in our mood when the darkness hits is to completely surrender to the experience of it. This means facing the feelings, writing about them, talking about them with someone we trust and sometimes, even laughing about them.
The more we resist the valleys of life, the more entrenched in them we become. But when we honor our darker feelings and accept them as part of the nature of who we are then they lose their hold on us. When we acknowledge our feelings, give them voice and allow ourselves to feel the ugly, scary stuff, then the darkness passes and gives way to light.
Most importantly, when we’re having one of those days, it’s an opportunity to practice loving ourselves more, to dig deeper and have greater faith in our dreams, to build up our spiritual endurance and press on in the face of fear and uncertainty. It’s an opportunity to learn about ourselves and grow by getting to know a side of ourselves that makes us uncomfortable.
There is an ebb and flow to life. Rather than fight it or resist it, let us embrace it. Let us adjust our expectations of what is “normal” and practice accepting the highs, the lows and everything in between.
There’s a lesson in all of it and it’s by fully being wherever we are that we can maintain a sense of inner peace and remain empowered regardless of what the day holds or what the weather outside looks like.
Written for The Daily Love (Dec. 4th, 2011)