Winston Churchill said, “When going through hell, keep going,” and he was right. Despair can be that hell – the feeling that life will always be as awful as it is right now,
that nothing will ever change, and perhaps even that you don’t deserve any other kind of life. That’s the funny thing about hell, you can’t tell how big it is or how long the journey through it until that day when you can look back and realize it is now behind you.
The first thing to do when you’re in hell is ask yourself, ‘why do I want to stay here?’ Your self-respect tells you that you deserve better. Your common sense tells you there must be a better place to be. Armed with those beliefs, it’s easier to find the courage to keep moving forward.
Whatever has brought you to your despair, recognize that there are two separate and distinct parts to it.
Watch Your Self-Talk
One is the event or series of events that has caused your despair. Whether it is the death of a loved one, prolonged unemployment, life-altering health issues, or even a combination of these, it’s real and it must be addressed. You can’t change what happened to put you in hell.
The other part is what you tell yourself about your hell. What you tell yourself is half of what keeps you from moving forward. Perhaps you tell yourself it’s your fault. Or, there’s nothing you can do about it. Or, that you’re a victim. Or, that you can’t have what it is you want, not even a little bit of it.
Of course, it in fact might be your fault, or you might be a blameless victim. Either way, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you choose to do in response to what happens.
And that’s the other half of what keeps you from moving forward through your hell.
Imagine for a moment that you were driving down a street and missed your turn. Would you simply stop the car and sit here forever? Would you tell yourself, well, that was it. It’s my fault, I missed my turn and now I have forever lost my chance to turn there? Of course not.
You’d back up, turn around, find a different route. If none of that was possible, you might be forced to go on to some place else. The point is, you wouldn’t stay stopped in the road.
And that’s what you must remember. Your destination is not the despair you feel right now. You may have missed your turn, or even several turns, and you may be momentarily lost. Perhaps the place you thought you were headed was really only a bit of scenery along the side of the road and your path in life it meant to take you some place else.
Your First Step
The first step to getting through hell to your real destination is realizing that your actions to this point are history. They cannot be changed, and they were not enough to get you through hell. The second step is to believe that you deserve better and that you have within you the tools, the knowledge, the courage and the self-respect you need to get to your destination. The third step is to start moving forward again so that you can get through your hell and return to your satisfying, if not always perfect, life.
Life Is Honest, Open and True
You are meant to be on the path you’re on, it’s up to you to keep moving forward over, around and even through the obstacles you face. Remember the words of Churchill and also remember this advice from Joel Osteen: “You have to come to your closed doors before you get to your open doors.”