It’s an old story. Old as the hills. And yet new every time it tells itself again.
Have you heard it told to you lately?
The clouds have gathered, thick and dark, on your skies. They’re banked up and rolling heavy to your horizon. Maybe the rains have already started, pouring their grief over everything you know and soaking it all through with shadows. And then maybe the wind starts up. The lightning. It seems everything is going wrong at once.
It’s hard to imagine ever riding out this storm.
And yet, if the story has its way, there will come a moment. A moment you might not notice at first. A moment that can start out smaller than small. But it’s enough.
Enough to invite a shift – an infinitessimal shift – that’s almost no shift at all. Except that it is.
So something tiny changes.
And somehow that awakens the next little change.
Until, gradually, all these fragile moments come together – like countless particles of light converging – almost invisible on their own. But together, slowly, they can start to pull the temperature of your day in a warmer direction. Together, they start to matter.
Trust is such an important part of therapy. And, of course, of life…
So do you trust yourself?
To know yourself.
To grow yourself.
A gentleman born in the early 1900’s trusted you, even though you’ve never met. His name was Carl Rogers, and he was a psychologist. And he believed that you – that all of us – have the innate power to understand and heal ourselves. He believed that somewhere inside, you have the solution, the answer, the salve for your life’s struggles. And that trust will help unlock them.
So how do you do that?
On a day that started with torrential rain and umbrella wrestling (and weather forecasts of doom), it seemed almost miraculous to be able to stroll the street in a dry golden-blue-sky evening.
But that’s what happened. Unexpectedly. And it was exactly then that this notice on a shopfront window caught my eye (you can see it in the photo, above):
“All things must pass.”
(And they certainly seem to).
Sometimes this apparent truth about the world feels confronting. Unfair, even. Because these “things which must pass” inevitably include the things we love, and the things we celebrate. The things we might want to hold on to and never let go.
But they’re not the only things that this saying is on about…
I was winding my way through the early morning rush hour at the station, past crowds of people blurring by, when this strange little moment of stillness opened up.
And then I saw it: a lost sole.
(In the picture, above).
A visual metaphor, reminding me of the times I’ve felt a bit like a lost soul myself. Or the times I’ve spoken with clients in counselling who felt they’d lost touch with their sense of soul and the things that really mattered to them.
Have you ever felt that way?
Where maybe some part of you was lost?
Maybe covered over by sadness or grief?
Or buried alive under a pile of convention or expectation that you felt you “should” live up to?
Or maybe you just became so busy you gradually lost sight of it?
There are so many ways to lose touch with what really matters in your life – to let the everyday grind take over instead. Or to let habits or old thought patterns get in the way.
Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and reconnect with yourself. To remind yourself of what you want this life of yours to be all about. To find yourself again.
But how might you do that?
It was on this same trip to work the other day, walking a different way, seeing different things, that I spotted this sign:
“FEED YOUR MIND.”
And it led me to wondering… What are you feeding your mind?
Are you nourishing it?
Or mindlessly stuffing some junk in for a quick bit of rush?
What are you putting in there?
(And what are you hoping to get back out of it?)
In his book, “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life,” world renown Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes about mindful consumption. Not just of food. But of everything you ingest: television, conversations, images, thoughts.
So, if you were to look at the typical “diet” you feed your mind, what might you find?
Grief. It comes to fill our hollows of loss. To accompany our loneliness. To be with our pain.
So when you’ve lost someone important in your life, by death or distance; or if you’ve lost a certain hope for the future; you may find a sense of grief. Or maybe it finds you…
It’s all a bit of an enigma sometimes. For grief is a something in the middle of a new nothing. A heaviness in the emptiness.
And, often, with grief can come tears. Even if you don’t always let yourself cry them…
At this time of year, with all the special occasions and anniversaries and expectations, all those un-cried tears – both old and new – can make themselves felt all the more.
So where do you keep yours?
Where do you actually carry them, your un-cried tears*?
You know the story, an apple a day’s supposed to keep the doctor away. But can a healthy diet also help keep depression at bay, too? Some researchers see a connection.
And that’s important, because sometimes depression’s treated as though it’s “all in your head.”
As it turns out, it may well be in your body, too.
And, if that’s the case for you, then it’s worth investigating. So let’s take a quick look…
In Part 1 of this post, we looked into some of the tough parts of living with chronic pain – and some ways you can help yourself through it all.
We ended up talking about pacing as being a way of still being able to do the things that are important to you, without having to hurt yourself to do them.
Pacing is one of the core ideas of a pain management system (ADAPT) set up by the University of Sydney Pain Management and Research Centre.
Pacing can help overcome a couple of cycles that many people with chronic pain get locked in:
Pain > leads to rest and frustration > and when the pain eases again > you’re tempted to do way too much all of a sudden (because you finally can) > which takes you back to pain again.
Are you in pain?
Not just the emotional or relational or physiological or existential pain that most of us will feel sometime in our lives. But the purely physical stuff – especially the chronic, ongoing kind that can accompany you for many years.
It can be such a challenge to live with. The constant nagging of your nerves or muscles can really get you down. It can strip your life of joy. It can transform you from who you once were to someone you no longer recognise. It can leave you feeling empty and pointless. Or angry and alone.
But there is hope.
Even if there are no physical or pharmacological solutions left to you. Even if you may have to live with some degree of pain for the rest of your life. Even if it’s been the hardest road you’ve ever walked down. Or crawled… There is hope.
For there are a number of therapeutic approaches that can really help you through this. They can help you make all the difference. And invite some of the beauty, some of the life, back into your days.
So let’s take a look at a few…