Recognition Brings us Power to Heal
Have you been faced with persistent pain, symptoms, or illness? Or perhaps a situation that’s really gotten you down? Has your sense hopefulness or happiness been compromised by a persistent difficulty that’s not resolving as you wish? Hopelessness is an alert beacon, and a natural human response.
At this critical time on our planet, everyone’s lives have come under a dark cloud of persistent stress. With the threat of a deadly virus, the absurd political situation in the U.S., and the extreme economic repercussions felt by so many, the resulting mental and emotional effects are similar to those who suffer from long term pain or illness.
In both cases, regardless of the cause or severity, chronic stressors can easily result in a deep sense of hopelessness and loss, bringing about a spiral of emotions, diminished energy, loss of sleep, and even physical symptoms.
Hopelessness can lead to loss of joy, deep depression, and cause us to even question if being on Earth is what we want to do. This reaction is a completely normal human response. However, when there is an ongoing persistence of hopelessness, this is truly a call to action. What can we do about it? Start at the beginning.
The first step in finding a solution is seeing the problem.
Simple as it sounds, it’s actually not always apparent to those suffering from stress-inducing situations exactly what is going on inside. Life may appear “normal,” and seem like everything is basically “fine.”
I recently experienced this anew. When the pandemic first began, I buckled down like everyone else, invigorated my spiritual practices, and kept abreast of the breaking news. After a few weeks of repeating horror stories, I distanced myself from social media in order to create a bubble for my mind to find some peace. Instead I turned to reading titles and captions, to get the gist, before delving into journalistic sensationalism and public fear mongering, both which exacerbated an already critical situation, and played havoc with my nervous system. This worked really well, and I was able to find a balance between current events and being able to live daily life in order to try and make a difference.
Recently, I visited my daughter who is very active in social justice and the current political climate. She views engagement with current news feeds as a civic responsibility, and as a measure of safety in being aware of what’s happening. While I applaud her stance, it brought me back into the daily details of the crisis, upfront and personal. Over the visit, we spoke about much of the absurdities and suffering due to current world events, and how hard it was for humanity.
Without my realizing it, delving back into the disturbing onslaught of details brought about an insidious inner anxiety, fear, and unrest, similar to that which occurred at the beginning of the pandemic. But I didn’t recognize it at first. I pushed it away. It seemed that my life was the new “normal” and I was certainly “fine.” I had work, loved ones, health, food. All was “well” and I was grateful.
Never-the-less, there was a growing sense of unrest within. Over the week, I began to doubt myself. I felt myself losing courage. Eventually, hopelessness arose. At first, I ignored it. When it persisted, I rationalized it away, explaining to myself why I shouldn’t feel it. Finally, I fought with it, arguing that I knew better than to feel this way. But it still didn’t go away. (I knew better tactics for handling emotions, but apparently had forgotten.)
After a solid week of trying to ignore and push away the feelings of hopelessness, it arose like an unnoticed water leak flooding the basement, and seeped into my entire being.
Fortunately, I have a dear friend who knows me so well, that even when I won’t admit something to myself, she is able to draw it to the surface where we can look at it together, in the light of loving awareness. Empowered to express the recent feeling of hopelessness and self-doubt, I was able to recognize it for what it was. I was overwhelmed by unrecognized stressors. She quoted a member of her church who coined it beautifully, “I feel like I’m living in the most beautiful nightmare.” Everything appears fine on the outside, but there remains the nightmarish reality of the global pandemic, threatening everyone.
I realized my feelings were a valid reaction to the pandemic and political-social devastation going on in our world. It was a perfectly normal human response.
By pushing the feelings away, I had not given myself the opportunity to really validate and understand where they were coming from. I thought it was about me. My exposure to the detailed news, and discussions with my daughter, had elicited a normal human response. But I didn’t recognize it for what it was, so I was unable to resolve it. Having this important conversation with my dear friend helped me to put hopelessness into a larger perspective. I was able to accept the emotion, integrate it into my being, and stop blaming myself for feeling some way I didn’t think I was supposed to.
Recognizing the problem was the first step to the solution. In this case, my emotions reset just with the simple recognition and sharing, and the hopelessness dissolved. At other times, deeper work may well be needed, along with outside support.
In chronic disease and persistent stress, it is only natural for our human selves to experience mental and emotional distress. But when that distress turns to hopelessness and persists, it is time to reach in and reach out to fully recognize what it happening.
Hopelessness is an alert beacon, a warning sign, and natural human response. It offers us a chance to turn around and take stock of what’s happening, inside and out. When we fully face these kinds of warning beacons, and allow ourselves to enlist help of others, we can move forward into a greater sense of peaceful acceptance even amidst the suffering in our world.
Recognition. To “re-cognize,” “re-think,” or “put into a new order.” It is the act of turning within to deeply consider and realize what is actually happening, and that has been known before; a kind of waking up.
Recognition of what’s going on inside brings us power to heal. Identifying the problem is the first step to solving it.
May we each experience the powerful grace of recognition
to guide us through unexpected storms.
All Blessings & Love to You,
Jeannie Arunimā ♡
IMPORTANT Note: if you or a loved one is experiencing a continuing sense of despair, hopelessness, sadness, or depression, please talk to a trusted loved one, seek professional help, and don’t let it continue to fester. You can overcome it, but it’s so much easier to do when shared. Contact me for a free consultation to help make a plan for healing.