Stuck in a Dark Place? Here’s how you can exit.
Life is a process of evolution and change. There is a place in you that supports that change when you get stuck. Unfortunately, the place can be dark and shadowy. Often it is a gloomy cave of sadness where personal demons linger repeating tales of loss, be- trayal and deception.
Darkness is a reminder of bonds of love that have been broken; where what is left, is pain. It is intended to make you notice the ways that you are not living what you hoped to live. It may be one of the most unpleasant places on earth, however it exists to in- spire learning, change and growth.
The Facade of Separation from others
Life inside the cave thrives on frustration. It creates a facade of separation, isolation and loneliness. The lie that echoes through it, says that you alone experience this level of pain. It says that, “others” are incapable of understanding your plight.
Other people will seemingly confirm their inability to understand you as they, in their cave, are caught in their own stories of separation. Their negation of your request for acknowledgement not only increases your frustration, it also confirms the illusion that you are nothing like them, totally seperate.
The simple truth denied by this experience is; heartbreak is part of being human. Full stop. It happens to all of us at different times, in different degrees. Lack of empathy, both for self and others, limits you in your ability to see that you are more similar to oth- ers you admit.
The trick of the cave is, that its echo leaves you feeling ashamed and isolated. In isola- tion, you come to believe that you are fundamentally different from others. Thus, you are reluctant to express yourself to others. Once in a while, you may become secluded, lost in a cave of depression, feeling incapable of finding the way out.
But there is a way out!
The cave is full of messengers guiding you to the frustration and futility that will ultimate- ly lead you out. If you don’t want to stay lost in it, start learning how to listen for the in- spiring intentions hidden in the frustration and sadness.
If this was a real cave, rather than a metaphorical one, the route out would be obvious. The way out is, the way that you came in. You came in through broken attachments, loss, rejection, or failure. These emotional experiences left you feeling blinded, unable to see the way out.
Having lost sight of your own truth, the way out of the cave is to feel. Emotion is some- thing that you feel. It is energy in motion. The energy is pushing you to remember that you are worthy of more but, are accepting less.
Emotions as messengers of truth.
The cave is a sacred place where emotions represent your true self and remind you that something needs to change. Treat sadness, depression and anxiety as messengers. They are there to help you. Negative emotions are reminders that you deserve more.
When you have tried to escape emotional suffering and keep discovering, as Jon Kabat Zinn said, “Where ever you go, there you are,” you likely need to see the futility of your current behaviour and have your tears. Surrender and listen to the message carried in the tears and frustration. It just may be the surest way to outgrow the sadness.
Consider these things:
Growth requires effort.
Change needs to be constructed.
The ways that you feel and process experience have been established over a lifetime.
Long standing ways of being are called Developmental Behaviour Patterns. You’ve been reinforcing them all your life.
Developmental Attachment Theory
Gordon Neufeld, researches and writes about developmental attachment theory. He labelled the important change from mad to sad. He called it facing futility. Neufeld notes that futility is the turning point in the adaptive process. Futility occurs when you realize that what you are doing is not working for you. It is a process that allows you to adapt.
Futility helps you acknowledge the possibility of letting go of something you thought you wanted. It creates space for the prospect of something new. Accepting that, what you have been doing just does not work, allows you to begin the work of adaptation.
When you have not reached futility you will continue arguing against your problems try- ing to effect change. You will feel frustrated and choked. It is a sympathetic nervous sys- tem state — fight or flight. You are railing against the things that you cannot change.
On the other hand, when you have reached futility, your nervous system switches over to the parasympathetic, rest and recuperate state. This is where you will likely feel the sadness of futility and where your brain can access the resources to adapt.
When things are not working your way, you get mad. Your brain doesn’t digest well in fight or flight so, it keeps regurgitating the same type of reactions and behaviours. There is little or no room for learning in this state. When you give up the fight and surrender, the doors can open to new possibilities and change.
So, how do you feel your way out of the cave?
I will give you more details in my next post but, in the meantime,
- Allow yourself to notice the relationship between mad and sad.
- Label it – I am mad right now, or I’m sad, frustrated…
- However little it is, notice the shift that occurs in your felt state/vibe/energy when you acknowledge what is happening in the present moment.
Growth requires effort.
Change needs to be constructed. Developmental behaviour patterns can change.