Life is a dance between joy and sorrow, celebration and grief, gain and loss. It can be so easy to get lost in our current emotional experience that we lose perspective. We tend to grasp onto joy, forgetting that it will one day pass and leave us with only our memory and wishing. And we tend to get lost in the shadows when dark days come, so overwhelmed by our challenges that we lose sight of the full scope of our lifes journeys.
If you feel like you are stuck in the muck, unable to see the full multi-faceted forest of your life for the trees of your current hard times, here are some ways to get through to the light on the other side.
Be of Service
One of the quickest ways to lessen our own sense of burden and gain valuable perspective on our lives is to be of service. This immediately starts to move our stuck energy. Service can be anything that helps someone else, though in the case of getting through hard times it is best to pick an activity that involves direct interaction with the beings you are helping.
This could be volunteering at an animal shelter or low-income health clinic, coaching a local sports team for underserved teenagers, or participating in a clean up of your local river or park. It does not matter what you do, so long as it feels good to you and helps others. Even if it does not make you feel better immediately, at least you will be contributing something positive to the world even during a time of challenge.
Do What You Love
Another way to navigate turbulent emotional times is to focus on your life mission. Offer whatever it is that you love to the world. Whether it is your job or only a passion, find what you love to do and share it freely and fully.
Take a Breather
This is a literal and figurative suggestion. A lot of stress is caused or exacerbated by shallow breathing. Deep breathing practices like yoga and certain forms of meditation can go a long way in clearing your mind and releasing stuck energy. Yoga and exercise offer the added benefits of relaxing and strengthening the body, which allow us to more gracefully, weather the storms of life.
And sometimes all we need is a little break from our lives. If you are feeling depleted, overwhelmed, or blocked, a trip away from your life may be all you need to reset. This need not be a big deal or expensive, it could be as simple as camping in a nearby campground for a night, house sitting for a traveling friend, or taking a two day stay-cation at home.
Remember Your Friends
Sometimes when we feel deeply challenged we isolate ourselves, drawing away from the very support we need most. Your friends, if they are true, want to help you any way they can but you might have to ask them for support.
Break through your self-imposed wall and reach out to friends. Let them take you on adventures. Let them brainstorm with you to find new perspectives and potential solutions or insights about your situation. Let your friends in when you want to push them away, and you may be surprised by how much feeling their love helps you make it through.
Ask for Help
Often our friends and family can provide all the support we need. But sometimes they may be too busy, or they may not have the skills necessary to provide the type of support we need. There are times when a professional therapist or counselor can provide crucial insight, reflection, and unconditional presence. The support of a therapist can help us work through issues that may be too heavy or complex for us to get through on our own.
Focus on What You Are Learning
We are always exactly where we are meant to be, to learn the lessons we need to learn in that moment. Sometimes our greatest growth happens in moments of deepest challenge. When you feel stuck in your muck, see if you can shift your focus to what the experience is teaching you. What skills, resources, self-awareness, or other gifts are contained within the challenges of this time? Often when we understand how a particular challenge is helping us grow, it no longer feel as hard.
Value Your Earned Compassion
Empathy is one of the greatest human gifts. Having true compassion for others brings us together through a bond of loving interconnectedness. When we have gone through an intense challenge, we have so much more compassion for other people in their own struggles.
When we feel challenged by life and stuck in our suffering, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. We lose perspective and become afraid that life will always be this hard. But its not true. This too shall pass. Focus on the ways you can serve and offer your gifts, the people in your life who can support you, and what you are learning from the experience, and you will be surprised at how your view clears.