I remember discussing dark feelings with someone who was, at the time, in the obvious throes of depression.(Read about depression here) She asked me; “when will I feel better?” I replied, ‘you will know you are feeling better when you no longer wake up wondering when you will feel better.’ This next step is much the same. You won’t know you’re in it until you gradually become aware that you are no longer in deep pain and confusion. You will be surprised to find yourself experiencing hope. Until that happens, you are still in your meltdown phase.
The signs that you’re coming out of the meltdown:
1) The Return of Hope. In the meltdown phase it is common to have really ‘bright’ ideas, but they are usually accompanied by a manic/desperate feeling. You’ll think that quitting your job and investing in clown school is an awesome, thrilling idea because who hasn’t always wanted to see the world with a traveling circus?! This too shall pass. The ‘real’ hope feels more like a delightful, bubbly idea with actual possibilities. Where entertaining any idea or possibility before felt painful and extremely difficult, ideas will now seem doable and even a little exciting. You have now stepped one toe out of melting down.
2) Things Inspire You. Again, where before you saw only doom, gloom and no change in your future, you now start entertaining creative ideas. Flipping through the channels and seeing a decorating show might prompt you to consider painting your room a sunny yellow. Seeing a jogger go by might give you the idea to stop eating chips and dip for breakfast, lunch and dinner and maybe buy a new set of running shoes.
3) You Change Your Look. This is not an insignificant action. When you change your hair and clothing style it is a true mark that you are now entering the next phase of your transformation.
While these are all clear indicators that you are moving forward in your life, caution is still your friend. These changes that you are instigating are going to be transitory. You will like yellow today but not tomorrow. Your drastic change to your hair will thankfully grow out, because you will exchange it for something a bit more manageable once you become more settled. These are all signs to help you gauge where you are in your transformation.
When I started to emerge from my ‘dark night of the soul,’ I was very happy to discover an inner peace that had been absent for a very long time. Yes, new things were possible, but I was no longer in a hurry or feeling desperate. I became much more observant and tuned into what I really, really liked and what I really, really didn’t. I used these much welcomed and very helpful tools to begin the process of making my life better.
If you want a life different than the one you had before (read: not repeat destructive patterns), it is extremely important to set new thoughts and behaviors in place at this stage of the game. You cannot get different results if you do not do things differently (see the definition of insanity). Again, trying new things is very valuable. Get a mentor, counselor, Coach. Take classes, experiment with new ideas and practices. Use your new found inner delight to lead you on. How do you use your inner delight? If what you are trying does not feel delightful, move on!
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