I have also experienced great loss, multiple times in my life, and in my younger years, struggled with bouts of severe depression. As a woman of great faith, I spent many years on my knees, asking God to take the pain, and to help me feel better. What it took me half of my lifetime to learn, is that I have my part to do. I am a firm believer in the saying "Pray as if everything depends on God, and work as if everything depends on you." Meaning, ask for the help and divine guidance, but do the work you are being guided to do. Emotional and Spiritual work are often, very hard work.
What I know for sure, from personal experience is the only way to begin to climb out of that black hole is to find something, anything, to feel even slightly good about.
The first step is to find a way to feel better, even for just a few moments. Having even a temporary break from the painful momentum, is the beginning of healing. It's a process, and as silly as this may sound, the more moments you can spend feeling better, the more you want to feel better, and the more proactive and disciplined you are about reaching for ways to feel better.
This is true even if you're not in great pain, but just got your day off on the wrong foot and everything is going crappy. The more attention you give to how crappy things are, the crappier they get!:) I have practiced this discipline enough, that I now have some standard "go to" exercises that I fall back on.
Some of my practices when I need to break the negative momentum include:
*Gratitude-I know gratitude has been a buzz word for sometime now, but there is a reason for that. There is ALWAYS something to be found to be grateful for, and a discipline of gratitude is probably the most healing discipline of all. The more grateful we are for what we have, the more we have to be grateful for. We often feel bad due to feelings of lack. We lack the $ we want, we lack the relationship we want, the job, the home, the health; but there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for, we sometimes just have to dig deep to find it under the muck of yucky feelings. I fully realize this is not news to anyone, but what I wish to gently remind, is that having the knowledge of something, and practicing what you know are two very different things.
I keep a gratitude journal, but I often go through my list out loud while driving.
When I commute to the city to my gallery, I always start with “Thank you that I have a nice safe car to drive”, then I move to “thank you that my sons all have nice safe cars to drive”.
I guess I start there, well, because I’m driving, but I find one statement leading to the next, and can fill the entire commute, which can be 30 minutes to an hour with statements of gratitude. By the time I arrive, I have such great momentum going, I feel life the most blessed girl on the face of the earth.
I have practiced this for years; which have included times of financial prosperity, abundance and health, but have also included times of financial crisis, personal health crisis, family and relationship crisis, and the devastating loss of multiple loved ones. Without the discipline of this single practice, I honestly think that some of the darkest times in my life may have taken me from this earth.
*Meditation-People make this more difficult than it is, like there is some great mystery to it. For me, it is getting in a quiet place, in a comfortable position, closing my eyes, and concentrating on a steady noise for a few minutes. The idea is to get the noise in the mind to turn off for a bit. If I sit in silence, I tend to still hear the mind chatter, so I turn on a box fan I have in my room, or if I’m in another location, I go to youtube on my phone and turn on a white noise/box fan audio and listen to that.
*Sitting with my pet! This ALWAYS promotes good feeling thoughts. Something as simple as a few minutes softly talking to and stroking your pet, breaks the yucky momentum. You may feel yucky again an hour later, but the important thing is, you spent a few minutes feeling really good, thus, you don’t feel as bad in that next hour as you would if you had not broken the momentum with a few good feeling minutes.
*Revisiting happy memories through photos. This was a real go-to for me last year. I work very hard, very long hours, and travel is such a joyful release for me, so has become a priority. I did not take a big trip last year, and in all honesty, I had some real resentment around that. What I did do periodically, was sit with my phone, and go through my photos from recent trips in 2016 and 2017. I would look at those photos, and allow myself to go back in time, and to FEEL the feelings I had on those trips. I would revisit the smells, how the air felt, the smiles and voices of the beautiful people I traveled with and met along the way. I tasted the chocolate crepe the woman at the market in France made for me while I waited. I worked really hard at this, and now I can do this exercise and transport myself back there for a short period of time, and actually feel like I just made the trip!
* Laugh Therapy-We all have those go-to movies that can’t help but make us laugh. I have several, but I Love Lucy videos are my favorite.
* I often, when I am down, watch videos of my grandbabies on my phone. Nothing can make me smile faster or bigger:)
*Service to, or gifting others- Sometimes the best way to feel better, even temporarily, is to give to someone else. I am a big gift giver, I always have been. It is so rewarding to bring joy to another human being; whether through an unexpected gift, or an act of service.
These are just a few things on my long list of “Feel- good” things to do, and I know you all have your own lists, which may include some of these very same things. What’s important is to have the discipline to practice the things on your list. That is what I mean by “we have to be willing to do the work” no matter how time consuming or silly it may seem. The work always produces a reward. The reward is usually that we feel good. Don't we all want to feel good? I know I sure do. Nothing is better than just plain feeling good!