You know those times where when anything that can go wrong, does go wrong? When you’re already under so much stress, and it just keeps coming? When the words to fix it don’t work? Or the solution you desperately need requires hoop jumping that you can’t do anything about? When the tears of frustration, overwhelm, and sadness just start flowing and you can’t pull them back in. Your body has to physically let go of some of this emotion because for the moment being, it’s all too much?
I know what that’s like.
And one thing I’ve felt when life gets like that is like I’ve done something wrong, something to deserve this. I think this response is a natural one, especially after years in spiritual communities where we’re sometimes presented with unrealistic ideas that we can control everything that happens to us with our intentions, prayers, and good deeds.
But if I had just tried harder…
If only I had thought ahead…
My prayers mustn’t have work…
I must have done something wrong…
This is where I want you to begin to change the narrative. Darkness/Heaviness is not the same as bad. Lightness is not the same as good.
Remember, for many generations, we’ve lived in a world where people don’t share about the darker parts of life. We’ve learned to keep it hidden, buried down, and often discussed as little as possible.
Now, there has been a push over the last several decades to change this shame cycle. Especially with the incredible work of Brené Brown around shame, and her findings that, “the only way to resolve shame is to talk about it.” More and more people are finding the courage to share the more painful parts of their stories.
However, it still seems that on a day to day level, the majority of us still feel more conditioned to hide our struggles from others; to only share the good stuff. We still fall victim to the highlight reel lifestyle through social media, and when all we see is the good stuff from everyone else, it hits us even harder when things start to fall apart for us. The loneliness of the pain feels even bigger because we irrationally believe we’re the only ones with hard stuff going on in our lives. After all, we’re not seeing anyone else struggling? Everyone else is winning!
We can know in our hearts and minds that that’s not ACTUALLY true- but still worry or fear that it is. Especially when so many people in our lives don’t know how to responsibly handle conversations that include pain or darkness. Usually as soon as it’s brought up it gets dismissed, deflected or minimized. Even by those closest to us! Sometimes your darkness brings up their own fears. It’s often a reflection of them- not you. So don’t try to force others to understand, and don’t take on the advice from people who don’t understand. Trust in those who can hold space for you without judgment or projection- and if you can’t find that then I’ll be here with the most important reminders for you:
There’s nothing wrong with you.
You’re not bad.
It’s not all lost.
When you are hurting or in a dark place, I want you to remember that it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. It doesn’t mean you haven’t worked hard enough on your life, or hard enough on whatever is in front of you. Darkness is not the same as bad, just as the lighter parts of our life aren’t “good.”
It’s easy to make this connection because we like feeling joyful, successful; we like when things are easy. We want this. We connect positive feelings to having done a good job. In fact this has been affirmed to use over and over in our lives. But when things don’t work out in your favor, when you’ve come to a place of failure in your life, or things didn’t work out how you thought they were supposed to- the negative feelings: the stress, frustration, disappointment, fear, sadness, rejection; those don’t mean you’ve done a bad job. It’s not the same.
The darkness is just as normal a part of our life as the light. The heaviness is a part of the story too. For every valley we move through, there are also peaks. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.
What you can do is remind yourself that eventually this will pass. Remind yourself that you can take steps forward- sometimes after you’ve had a good night’s rest first, or once the missing piece- the part you couldn’t see before- is revealed in your life. Some resolutions come quickly, and others come slowly. Try to find peace with the process, and to continue being gentle with yourself.
This topics is also the heart of discuss on episode #103 of my podcast, The A Bit From Within Podcast, where I share on how it sometimes feels to hide our struggles from others- and why it’s okay to be authentic. It’s okay to not always have it all figured out. We are all less alone than we feel. You can check this episode out here below or listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or on Spotify.
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