A Change is Coming
The truth is we have very little we can really rely on. The natural world is completely beyond our control. The thoughts, feelings and actions of every other human being are beyond our control. All too often, our own thoughts, feelings and actions are beyond our control- the task of learning to manage ourselves is a ceaseless one.
One of the few guarantees we do have is- ironically- rooted in instability. Whatever this moment is, it will change. How you feel right now will not be how you feel forever and always. Life will keep happening all around you, and inevitably you will get pulled along in the undertow. You can’t stay the same, even if you try. You aren’t entirely the same person in this breath as you will be in the next one.
You can probably think of a time in your life that was more difficult than the time you are in right now. Maybe you thought you would be stuck at that low point forever. And you might have been low for a long, long time. Maybe the valley in which you found yourself was deep and wide, and the path out of it took a great many steps. But even one step forward changes your situation, and the difference doesn’t have to be measured in great shifts. In yoga practice, we talk about tiny changes in the body. Maybe your limbs move one inch, or one millimeter. Maybe there is zero noticeable difference from the outside, but you feel a new sensation on the inside. All of it counts. I have been in valleys myself, and when I look back on those experiences, I’m still not sure how I get from there to here. The changes were so gradual, but no less powerful for being slow and quiet.
If you feel sad, angry, depressed, jealous, guilty or anything else that doesn’t seem to serve you- It. Will. Not. Last. Sometimes we are wounded. A tiny papercut can hurt- a whole lot more than you expect it to. But injuries heal; they turn to scars and maybe fade altogether.
How do you help yourself overcome an emotion that feels overwhelming and unhelpful? In much the same way you help yourself physically recover. The best thing you can do is leave yourself alone. Let the process work by itself. If you had a papercut, you might keep it clean, you might put an antibiotic cream on it, and you might cover it with a bandage. But probably more important is that you generally take care of yourself- if you are in good health, your body’s natural systems will take over and do the job they are meant to do. You don’t have to use your mental energy telling your platelets to clot or asking your white blood cells to attack invading infection. It all happens without you. Your biggest opportunity for impact is in being counterproductive to your own healing. Almost everyone has picked at a scab before and re-opened an old wound. Something about it is even a little satisfying, because that in-between stage can be itchy and uncomfortable. But if you can just leave yourself be, you will heal faster.
Anger can fade, sadness can lift, jealousy can dissipate and guilt can transform into clarity of purpose.
The only thing you need to ask from yourself is patience. Patience to allow yourself the time you need to heal your wounds. Keep hanging on to the idea that change is inevitable, though sometimes cumbersome and unhurried. It will happen. It is happening before you are even aware of its effects.
When you feel overwhelmed in the moment, keep breathing (See “How to Catch Your Breath”). The proverb says: “This too shall pass.” And it always does.