‘Always remember that your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come.’ Zig Ziglar
The rising challenges in mental health this past year have brought a significant heaviness to my heart. The idea of anyone suffering, especially within the confines of their own minds, is something I feel extremely passionate about eradicating, because I’ve been there myself. I’ve had years of my life consumed with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder, and I know the pain this brings to our whole life experience, our relationships, our connection to ourselves, our wellbeing and our future aspirations.
Yet when I look back on that time in my life now, I see the transformative opportunity it actually created for me.
Without reaching rock bottom, I don’t think my life would look anything like the life I love living now. Without getting to the depths of no longer wanting to live, of being terrified to leave the house, of hating myself so fiercely — I wouldn’t have begun the determined journey to discover the opposite.
None of those things affect my life now, yet all of those things influenced how my life panned out, the direction I took, the passions that burned through me, the unshakeable commitment I have now to help others overcome their challenges.
I look back on that time of fear and distress, and am grateful for the rude awakening I got to the utter disconnection I was living.
That crash into my lowest low became the foundation on which I built the rest of my life.
I started working on myself, learning to love myself. I became confident within, let go of the anxiety and depression, recovered fully from the eating distress. But it didn’t stop there. Having been cocooned in so much hatred for my life for so long, this journey gifted me with an unwavering appreciation for the absolute magic of life, for the incredible opportunity our existence is, for the unmatched capacity we have as humans to overcome adversity and truly thrive. I was able to find immense gratitude, where I was once overwhelmed with grief.
So how can we do this? How, in the midst of the chaos the globe has been experiencing, can we actually find a silver lining?
1. We’ve got to choose it.
‘Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’ Viktor Frankl (if you don’t know his story, check him out — that alone could massively shift your perspective!)
I was brought to counselling so I’m not going to act like it was my bright idea. But choosing to recover was. Choosing to stick with it and commit to the process was a decision. And it was one I had to keep choosing until it was the obvious choice. Because ultimately, when we’re at our lowest point, what is the alternative?
We don’t have to keep suffering. We really don’t. I know it feels like that’s all that’s available sometimes, but is that true? Haven’t we seen others who have overcome their challenges? Isn’t there even a tiny shred of hope that we could too? And don’t we really want that? A life free of anxiety and depression, where we feel whole, confident and calm?
Choose to see the alternatives. Choose to see how these feelings are merely a signal, an indication of misalignment within, a disconnection from who you truly are. That’s why it feels awful, because it’s not your natural state, it’s not You. This means that when you restore the truth of yourself, you will free yourself.
2. Connect to What’s Possible
“We need a compelling future. This is how we grow” Tony Robbins
Use this time to get inspired. Get out of your head even for just a few minutes and look to the world for inspiration. Find someone who resonates with you. Find a quote or a book that speaks to you. Any inkling of insight that you can connect to outside of your current situation.
Explore your purpose. Ask, what could be your reason for being? What would you like your impact to be? Connect to a strong ‘why’. Get curious about how you want things to change. How your life will look when you turn this around, what the purpose of doing that would be?
If these ideas seem out of reach, keep it simple. Would you like to feel more confident in yourself? Would you like to have the energy to get out of bed and do something with your day? Would you like to be kinder to yourself? Plant the seeds of what’s possible for you. This begins to fire new neural pathways to redirect your focus. And if you bring them to mind often, your brain will start welcoming in the information that makes them more tangible, the relevant support that brings them to fruition for you.
3. Switch Your Focus.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”, Wayne Dyer.
If you want to find opportunity in your challenges, you’ve got to start looking for it. You’ve got to get curious about your experience. Start asking, how is this helping me grow? What’s great about this? How can I use this? What is life teaching me?
What if life is happening for me, not to me?
I know these are quite possibly the last things on your mind and might even seem a bit out there, but honestly, when I started shifting to this way of thinking, I made much more progress much quicker. One of the driving forces of motivation for me, was that by going through my experience, I could someday help others. I found purpose in it. I used my triggers as teachers, I sought everyday to be learning something — about myself, about life, about personal development. I realised I was on a lifelong path of growth, not stuck in a rut as I had previously believed.
Focus is everything. Focus creates feelings. It directs our experience and magnifies that which it rests on. What you focus on is what you get.
I’m not here by any means to dismiss your experience or say ‘just look on the bright side’ — of course I know how that sounds when you’re in a dark place.
But I am here to remind you of your power. I’m here to inspire hope in you that you can create a life you love, that’s aligned to who you really are, that excites you and lights you up. I’m here to make you aware of your choices. And encourage that you use them.
After that, it’s up to you to create whatever response to life you choose.“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”