It all started on a cold December night. A war was being waged within me.
Each morning, I’d wake up feeling like I had lead flowing through my veins, helping gravity do its job.
I’d drag myself out of bed, doing what I had to do. I was living my passion, surrounded by people I loved, but it felt empty.
Somewhere, in a dusty corner of my being, I knew this too would pass, but there was doubt. I wondered if something had gone horribly wrong in the control room of the Universe.
Maybe an operator had grown an affinity for Vodka, who knows? But I was worried, because obviously this wasn’t meant to be happening.
I had entered what some call the dark night of the soul.
I lost all motivation, hope, and belief in myself.
I didn’t want to do anything. All directions seemed meaningless.
Life had turned from technicolor to a dull gray. It felt like a cosmic vacuum cleaner had sucked all hope from my system.
At first I thought it was a passing thing. But it stuck around, challenging my patience, nudging me to face my feelings.
Only later did I realize that I was forced to re-examine everything I believed in; to determine what was important to me, and what was not.
In the beginning, I resisted. I watched TV series, read books, and tried to run away.
Then a shift occurred.
I had the following thought: “I give up. I surrender. Let whatever happens happen. If I need to go broke, so be it. If I need to die, so be it.”
After that, I felt the urge to write. Not articles. Not essays. Nothing for the public. Write in a journal. Explore my thoughts.
On Feb 6th, I wrote my first entry. I began exploring what I was feeling. The first lines of that entry read:
“Any string attached to money comes back and strangles joy when I’m not aware of it. Yet, each strangle teaches. I may be left without oxygen, but filled with wisdom. I try to force [progress] because I fear the changing tide of the future.”
I explored anything and everything that came to mind. As I wrote, I noticed patterns in my thinking; patterns of fear, of defending what I was doing, and of needing permission to do what I felt called to do.
I share this with you because I want to show you that no one is above challenges. We are all human, which means we all keep growing, and we all experience growing pains.
This isn’t about labels like depression. This is about embracing what you’re feeling, and diving deeper into yourself.
No matter how many gold coins you have in the bank, you will experience fear, doubt, and uncertainty.
Going through this helped me see.
A shift seems to be happening, where we’re ready to embrace ourselves fully, warts and all.
The only reason to live is to follow what makes your heart sing.
I don’t know where the road will take me. No one does, and that’s what scares us. But I bring myself back to the present moment and remember that I don’t have to know.
All I have to do is follow the breadcrumbs, to follow my excitement, and to do my best.
That is all that is required, because that is all that is possible.
The writing kept giving.
I kept writing in my journal, exploring my thoughts, asking questions.
Every few pages, I would write down a sentence that felt different. It’s as if it came from a different part of me.
These sentences nudged me in a certain direction. They were like coaching sessions with my ballpoint pen.
The first sentence I wrote told me to get back into my regular meditation practice. The next one told me to look in a book on my book shelf (A Path with Heart).
When I got stuck in unhelpful mental patterns, I picked up my pen and put it down in ink.
Our feelings come from our thoughts, and the thoughts that wreak havoc are distorted. Writing them down helps reveal their true nature.
I was forced to swallow my own medicine.
I harp about the importance of small steps, of believing in yourself, and of following your heart.
This experience forced me to dive deeper into myself. I cultivated a deeper trust in life. I don’t know if there’s some kind of energy moving us around, like the Force in Star Wars, but it feels that way.
I was forced to surrender to what I was feeling, because there was no escaping it.
Once I stopped trying to run away, and embraced the fear, anxiety, and dread, it began to unravel.
It didn’t happen right away, but being intensely present was like cutting through the thick sludge of dread with a sword.
There was light. There was hope.
A glimmer at first. Then a rush of light.
As I write this, the fog has lifted, and I’m more inspired to write than ever. I’m working on my next book, Do What You Love, and the words flow from my fingertips.
(Update: Do What You Love is published and available here.)
These periods of darkness keep me humble, keep me looking inside for what no longer belongs, and keep me deepening the trust I have in myself.
It’s not something to run away from, but something to embrace and learn from.
So what does all this mean for you?
It means that when you go after what you love, your inner demons will come banging at your door. And they may bring friends.
It isn’t fun.
You will want them to go away. But the sooner you face them, the sooner you’ll realize that you can handle their fear-mongering.
These bouts of fear, pits of depression, or whatever you want to call them, are signs that old baggage is being tossed into the incinerator.
We’ve been taught to avoid all negativity and sadness, but the key isn’t to run away or suppress what you feel. Instead, it’s to embrace everything fully.
Sometimes you need to rest and spend time looking inside yourself. It’s easy to forget this in our get-more-done culture.
If you need to work with a professional, do so, but don’t shrink away from your feelings.
Face them head on. Write about them.
Explore the dark corners of your psyche.
And notice that you are greater than any of your fears. You are strong enough to handle them.
You are strong enough to travel the path that calls you.
All the best,