Unfortunately or fortunately, the feelings that we so desperately attempt to avoid can actually be some of the most beneficial feelings we can ever experience. These “bad” feelings tell us that something is out of whack in our lives. At times the imbalance is obvious. The loss of a cherished relationship is an example of this. At other times it is difficult to identify where the imbalance is and what can be done to change it. The imbalance can be an indication that we need closer support and connection with friends and family, or it can indicate that we need more sleep or a different job or more exercise. The bad feelings invite us to adapt and figure out ways of bringing things back into balance.
Often it is through these struggles that we learn something about ourselves or others or life. It is wisdom that can be gained only through difficulty. Depression can lead to some dark and painful experiences that feel like they may be the end of us. We sink deeper as the light dims. What if the darkness, rather than triggering feelings of despair and hopelessness, triggered the belief that something new and beautiful was about to be created? What if the bad feelings were just the beginning of something new and good? It can be difficult to have a broader perspective when it seems that all you can focus on is how miserable you feel. But asking yourself what you can learn and how you can grow as a result of your struggle is well worth it.
Will I become bitter and cynical and isolate myself from others? Will I stop taking care of myself? Will I give up? Or will I emerge from the discomfort more resilient, more humble, more gracious and more hopeful? Will I allow the pain to refine me and develop my character? Will I then offer a listening ear and an encouraging word to others who are in the midst of a similar trial?
You get to decide how to view your struggle. You get to decide whether to view it as the end or the beginning. If someone borrows your car and adjusts the seat you don’t just ignore it. You fix it. If you get blisters, you wear different shoes. Depression is the same way. Adjust your seat and change your shoes. I have tried the whole “bitterness, life isn’t fair, the world is out to get me” perspective and it didn’t get me anywhere. You are certainly welcome to try that if you wish. It’s your life. Just don’t mistake the beginning for the end.