Breaking Out of the Cycle of Pain
This is a little guide and my own story on what to do when all you see is darkness, but want to someday see the light.
I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.—Samwise Gamgee
No one has ever told us that life would be easy. From a young age, we are taught that life isn't fair and that bad things happen to good people. This was seen on the playground when you're best friend was getting picked on or how maybe when you were little, you tried your very best always to be this loving, kind child and just one bad thing led to the next. Death. Divorce. Bullying. Abuse. You name it, everyone has had their struggles and their stories that shifts many individuals to view the world as darkness. Pain is unavoidable as is conflict. This pain and conflict often shapes us into how we choose to be in the future, but if you're in the place in your life where you feel like you're stuck in this hopeless cycle of pain, I hope that what I have to say can help you out, because that's what the purpose of this all is.
Know you are not alone.
The first most important thing to know is that you are not alone. There are moments where many of us feel like we get stuck in our obstacles that we face. These obstacles may be different. They might be external or they might be internal. Hell, they may even be a combination of both. Some of us do have more privilege than others. That's just a fact of life, and because of that, there needs to be an acknowledgement of different obstacles. However, despite any differences that individuals may hold- you are not alone. Someone out there knows what you're going through, maybe not the exact details, because I strongly believe everyone's experiences are tailored to the individual, but that doesn't mean that there isn't someone who can understand you and your problems.
First, I would like to mention how I put a Lord of the Rings quote at the beginning. As we know in many fictional stories, there's a hero arc that is followed. But what Samwise said here can also be used for a reflection into our own world and selves. After all, we all have experienced some form of obstacles and darkness as I've already made clear and when we were little we often used our own escape mechanisms to deal with this pain.
Literature. Media. Music. Art. Religion. There was and is something there for us all to aid in our pushing forward. Something for us to cope with our struggles because when we can't or couldn't believe in ourselves, we put our belief into something else.
Personally, I come from the generation where I was lucky to grow up with Harry and his adventures at Hogwarts. After all, I was 4 years old when the first movie came out, so between 4 and 14, that was my means of escaping our world and joining in on adventures of heartbreak and triumph to subconsciously cope with my own issues such as betrayal of my parents divorce and lack of belief that love can exist. It helped me believe that if in a world that is corrupt as ours is as well, that if a main character and side characters can overcome loss, then I can too. It made believe in them and in me and that was the story that stuck with me.
Because as Samwise again stated, even darkness must pass and the stories where people kept going even in the midst of darkness, that's the stories that stick. That belief sticks.
So if you are in a spot of your life where you just can't find any hope to continue moving forward, I hope you can find something that gives you a belief system that can someday translate into yourself as well. I challenge you to do so.
In the preceding section, I gave you a challenge if you were stuck in the belief stage of overcoming your obstacles. That challenge directly ties into this section. Once you challenge yourself, you can continue to do so. And life has many challenges for us. Some of us have more than others, but that doesn't make anyone's less or more significant than the other. We are all human beings and all deserve the pursuit of happiness in our lives.
You might be wondering what challenging ourselves can do in order to overcome other challenges. It might even sound a little backwards or convoluted. However, by challenging the challenge means that you're facing you're conflict in some way. It might be directly. Might be indirectly. You might take one big leap or might be taking smaller leaps along the way. Again this is tailored to you, because you know you better than anyone else does so concrete advice of "Do this" just isn't helpful.
For an example, to better explain what I'm talking about, I'll give you what I do when I'm stuck in this stage of breaking a bad cycle. Many of my issues come from insecurities and anxieties that resulted as closing myself off during my parents' divorce. Many of the thoughts I have were due to a protective mechanism that I felt that I needed to put in place when I was 10 so that I could get through my broken family and help my parents and brother through it to the best of my ability. These insecurities and anxieties take place in toxic thoughts that I often can't break out of until I'm spiraling and freaking out about any conflict that may hurt me and the people who I've put my trust in, even if that conflict isn't present right away. I've learned and in truth am still learning how I have to move forward and challenge myself to minimize my pain and break out of my cycle of darkness. Here is a list of challenges I put in place to overcome my obstacles:
- I was told to ask for help, so I had to push my comfort zone outward and do that.
- I had to break down all my barriers to a stranger and explain what was going on.
- I challenged my habit of internalizing by improving my emotional vocabulary in order to explain what was happening inside my own mind and then had to break down my misconceptions of vulnerability to gain the courage to actually be able to explain it.
- I continue force myself to ask the following questions:
- Is it true? Is it always true?
- What is the evidence?
- Am I seeing the whole picture? What are the protective factors?
- Does this thought promote self-kindness and well-being?
I hope that this section is clear now. It's very tailored to the individual and is a mean for overcoming the past and overcoming the daily struggles you may experience. Part of challenging yourself is to deal with the past, but part of it is also the continuation so you continue to move forward. There's never going to be a time in your life where you can just stop, because life will always throw us curve balls that we must learn and adapt to.
The final part of overcoming darkness and pain to create a better, happier life for you is love. Love in yourself. Love in others. Love in the world. Love in life. It can be any form of love and any amount of it, but to truly find the light, you need to have faith and love in others. I'm not saying to love everyone. Love might be simple, but humans are not and often times humanity sucks, so I'm not here to say that life is all rainbows and peace signs nor does it always have to be. It's okay to fall into moments where you're angry and said or scared and disgusted. However, if you find love in something then there's some sun coming from even the cloudiest of days. If you can truly find peace in something, and I sure hope you can, then it just makes life feel much more worth it. And it is. Life is worth it. Love is worth it, even when obstacles we face don't make it seem that way.
And if this is a struggle for you, implement something from the challenge section to work toward love, even if that's loving yourself where you have to look into the mirror every single morning until you believe it and say, "Hey you—thank you for waking up this morning. I love you and will continue to love." And even when you believe it, continue to say it to remind yourself that you are a warrior in your story.
Know you are not alone. Believe. Challenge. Love. And in the end, your story is one that will be remembered by you- by those that are around you, because you overcame your darkness and became a hero like the one Samwise explained.
I have this fire inside meThat sparked a long time agoAnd it’s just now coming to its formWhere I’m ready to destroy, but I’m choosing to grow.Because I believe that love is the only optionAnd that dedication is the only practice.
Remember to choose kindness,