Dealing with Despair

Face of Despair

Face of Despair 

Good morning. I hope it is a day of brightness for each of you. Yet, judging from the search term of “dealing with despair,” which showed up three times, I suspect some of you are not feeling brightness in your lives. So today, I want to talk about a way out of despair.

See the image to the left? Can you see the little face, mouth open in a wail of despair, hands covering his eyes? It is from my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, with the verse that says, “Can you hear my wail? Can I hear myself?”

What I meant by “Can I hear myself” was that often, we do not pay attention when we are in deep pain. We ignore it by stuffing it, by becoming incredibly busy, or by numbing the feelings with substances. Is this you?

STOP! Your soul is crying out to be acknowledged, wants you to pay attention to it, wants the opportunity to heal. When you feel those feelings of despair, stop. Become willing to write in a journal or notebook what you are feeling.

When writing, I suggest you print with your non-dominant hand. This will prompt all sorts of your deepest feelings to emerge onto the page; you’ll get to the bottom of your woes more quickly and easily. Try to stay with those feelings for at least 15 minutes at a time. When you can no longer deal with them, THEN get up and be active… do the dishes, take a walk, do something productive.

Then look at and consider what you have written about your despair. Consider how you want to feel instead. Write about that in detail… what would your life look like if you were not in despair? Vision it, write about it. Now, consider if there is an action you can take right now that will move you forward to that vision of how you want your life to be.

Focus on that one thing, that one action. Keep it simple. You will have to find one action you can take. Maybe you cannot do it in the moment, but you can do it today sometime, or tomorrow. Make a to-do list and put that action step on the list. Often, when we are being of use to someone else, our despair lessens, so you might consider an action step that involves doing something good for another.

On the other hand, we often forego our needs for the needs and desires of another, so you may need to focus on your needs and desires right now. Doing good for another can come after you have met your needs.

Now, take that action. Just take it, do it – that one simple thing. Once you have done it, sit and contemplate how you feel about yourself now, having done something good for yourself. Write about it, share about it with someone you trust not to steamroll you.

I am not suggesting this is easy, for it is not. It will take willingness on your part. AND, once you do it, you will reap the rewards and you will feel less despair and more peace in your heart.

Sit down and write today… now. Then take that action step.

If what I say resonates with you, move at the speed of instruction. : ) Write again and again about your despair, focusing on your vision and taking action. Let us know in a comment if things change for you.


Growing Beyond Despair

Good morning. It is not quite dawn here at my home as I sit to write to you. Honestly, I do not know exactly what I want to write, other than to say I’d like to continue with positive words about despair and suggestions on how to grow past it.

Yesterday, I wrote about my experience with despair and how I got past it permanently. I invite you to read that article in addition to this. Today, let’s focus on the things you can do to work toward letting go of your despair, growing beyond it.

I believe that a solution lies in the doing of something for others, but I also believe that we can’t skip over the step of looking deeply at our pain. Most people do not do this, simply because it IS painful, but the rewards we reap by exploring are many-fold. Inner peace, freedom, serenity, are a few of the rewards and these are huge!

The two single-most things I found that we can do to grow beyond despair are to journal about our feelings, our past, and to read self-help books. For me, the self-help books gave me hope, gave explanation for my feelings. I read Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s The Invitation and gained immense hope and deep understanding of my inner-most desires.

Then, Claudia Black’s books about the effects of abuse in our lives gave words to my feelings and helped me climb out of the hole of despair. After Claudia’s books came Alice Miller and John Bradshaw.

All of the books I read that helped me get through despair are sitting in two boxes here in my study and if you are interested in finding out what I have and reading them, I am happy to relay to you what I have and can send to you. Call me at 415-883-8325 if you’re interested in knowing more.

So, one way to get beyond despair is to read books that speak of hope. The other way is to write, and I suggest journaling with the non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, teach yourself to print with your left hand, for example. The rewards are tremendous, as deep feelings will flow onto the page.

At first you may discover that the feelings that arise are too painful. If so, talk to someone you trust, or to a minister, or to a counselor. The point is to get help with them, but try to continue on. Research has shown that writing with the non-dominant hand uncovers deep creativity. I found it also uncovers deep feelings.

Be gentle with yourself as feelings surface. Do this exercise for a limited time each day at a pre-designated time of the day. Even five minutes is a great start. Eat well; exercise to release the tension that may arise. Don’t act upon what you discover, as what you are feeling now will change. It will morph into more of a peace eventually.

And I cannot stress enough to get help with what you discover.

I wish you well in your healing process and seriously, call me if you’re interested in getting access to my library of healing books. 415-883-8325. May you find peace in your journey as you learn to grow beyond despair. .



Overcome Despair with Sobriety

Good morning. I haven’t done the rest of my grief work yet, so do not have the rest of the process to report on this morning. I will have it tomorrow. Meanwhile, let’s talk about the benefits of sobriety, for with sobriety, it is possible to overcome despair and feelings of worthlessness.

When I was in my drinking days, it was easy to keep being in despair and worthlessness because the drink fueled those feelings, kept me in self-pity and blaming others. Then when I started in sobriety, the fuel for that fire was gone. Suddenly, I had to look at the actual feelings behind my despair, my worthlessness. I had to feel the hurt at a very deep level. I had to be responsible for my own feelings… and it was difficult.

Yet, by keeping my sobriety intact, I was able to ease my way through the feelings. My sobriety allowed me to discover a place inside where I wanted to give to others. And when I wanted to give to others, I found my purpose in life. When I found my purpose in life, the despair left me. It was only by staying sober that I became able to get outside of myself and really care about another, really care about being of service to them. It’s actually a glorious place to be.

But if you are in despair or feeling worthless, you cannot imagine that place, I know. At least, I never would have been able to imagine that place. Trust me when I say that it may be obtained. It is possible. So, let me tell you how I got there and maybe you, then, can get there yourself.

My despair dissipated when I told my story to someone and it was useful to him. Recognizing that, I came to the realization that by telling my story and how I recovered from a horrible upbringing, horrible anger and bitterness, horrible grief, it might be useful to others so that they, too, could get through and past their horrible experiences, their resentments, their despair.

It took being in a state of sobriety, where I was “clear” enough to recognize this. It took being in sobriety to be able to get beyond myself so I could consider another, could be of service. I did this by being willing to be open to what came to me, by being willing to maintain and practice my sobriety.

How about you? How can you take what you have learned in sobriety and be useful to another with that information? How can you be of service from that deep place of knowingness that we discussed yesterday… that place of great worthiness. All you have to be is two steps ahead of the person to whom you are being of service.

Move forward in your day with awareness. Be conscious of the ways in which you can be of service to another. Look for how your story, your experiences and the healing you’ve done-to-date could be useful to another. Remember… you only need to be two steps ahead. Then make the decision to be of service, to be of use and take action. May you discover your purpose as a result of this process, and may you replace your despair with hope, with feelings of goodness.


Getting Past Sorrow and Despair

Good morning. Today I will deal with getting past sorrow and despair. In the book, they are separate topics, yet, today I am combining them as they often go hand-in-hand.

Face of Despair

Sorrow is defined by Webster as a mental suffering or anguish caused by loss, disappointment, or regret. It can include grief, which is a more intense anguish related to a specific misfortune or disaster.

When experiencing sorrow and/or grief, one’s thoughts can get to those of despair, defined as being without hope, being hopeless. All of these emotions are quite debilitating and, in my case, were accompanied by depression.

Sorrow and despair left me with no will to live and, in fact, I was praying to God to let me die, as I felt there was no purpose to the pain I had endured during my life-time, that my experiences were just a torment to me.

When one feels these emotions, it is a common tendency to want to numb the feelings by drinking, eating, shopping, or various other activities that we do obsessively. This only enhances the sorrow and despair.

In my case, I felt the sorrow and despair into my sobriety, up until I was about five years sober. At that point, I had an experience that dispelled both of these emotions. I had the opportunity to discover my purpose in life, and I felt needed, valued, and  that my experiences were valuable to others.

Quite by accident, I realized I could help others by relaying my story. Suddenly, my life had meaning and purpose. I no longer felt that deep hopelessness that is characteristic of despair. I no longer felt sorrow and grief over my life.

I was not able to do this alone. I sought counseling, took medication for my depression, and joined a support group to deal with my drinking issues. Then I set about the arduous and scary task of looking at my emotions and dealing with them. I started to take responsibility for my healing.

If you are feeling sorrow and grief from a loss of something or someone in your life, know that there are stages you will go through before you gain peace. Allow those stages occur; don’t fight them. Know that you are working your way to eventual peace.

It may be frightening for you to face your emotions; be gentle with yourself as you look. Most importantly, get help. Talk to someone – a trusted friend, clergy, a therapist.

As you deal with your sorrow and it lessens, despair will also diminish. Most of all, stick with it through the tough times, for your life has value to others in your world. We each have value in one way or another. It is up to you to discover what your value is. This will happen naturally as a result of dealing with these difficult emotions.

I wish you well as you deal with getting past sorrow and despair. Remember that your life has value. Know that eventually you will get to the bottom of your emotions and life will begin to turn around. Commit to yourself to stick with it, and ask for help from others and the divine forces of the Universe. Remember, you are working toward finding inner peace. 






Despair – Have You Been There?

Face of Despair

Have you been there… to that place of utter defeat, utter uselessness, utter despair? Perhaps praying to die because you just cannot seem to get past this. That’s what I experienced when I was in deep despair… the feeling that nothing was worth it, there was no purpose to my life’s sufferings. There was no purpose to my life.

For me, this resolved when, out of the blue, I discovered my life’s purpose. It was an answer to my prayers. The old way of thinking about myself had to die to make room for the new revelation. It happened like this…

One day, I had the opportunity to speak with a man who was suffering emotionally, who was dealing with some of the same issues I had dealt with during the course of my sobriety. Specifically, it was childhood issues. I let him talk and then he asked if I had any words of wisdom to impart. I replied that all I could do was relay my experience. So I did, including the names of authors I had read that were helpful in my healing.

He was so grateful, he almost cried. As I walked to my car, I realized that my life’s sufferings had been useful to another, that had I not endured what I had, I wouldn’t have been able to help this man. Suddenly, my life had a purpose and I believed it was to share my story with others. Specifically, it was to share my book with the world, to tell the story of my journey, the story of the book’s journey.

From that day forward, I have not felt despair. I have felt enlivened, with a deep sense of purpose that involved helping others, being useful. That experience allowed me to get out of myself and display caring for my fellow human being. There is nothing quite like feeling you have helped another in need….

Have you felt despair and gotten past it? What was that like for you?