True transformation often comes after a long period of unhappiness. Even the Buddha only achieved enlightenment after his search for happiness proved unfruitful. He sat down under the Bodhi Tree and looked for the root of all suffering.
The most profound testimonies of what it is to live isn’t being presented by satisfied or enthusiastic souls. It seems that that kind of knowledge usually is the exclusive terrain and the only blessing of humans who suffered deeply
– Alain De Botton –
The Buddha realized that all suffering was self-inflicted by creating a false sense of Self (the ego). By observing his thoughts he realized there is something prior to these mental constructs. That is our true essence. We feel trapped, because we are prisoners of our own mind.
So how to escape this prison? Ironically it’s only when you see no way out, that you find a way out. Why? You start looking from a different perspective.
But that doesn’t come easy …
We resist change because it’s uncomfortable
Our ego resists change. It doesn’t like to take risks and move into new territory. The ego likes it comfortable and predictable. Even if it makes you feel bad, a belief always serves us.
The ego enslaves you to mental constructs and opinions of other people. Changing can feel like dying, because you give up a previous image of yourself.
Depression shrinks your world. Everything takes effort. You don’t see the point of changing. You world becomes smaller and smaller until all that you’re left with is … yourself. Your internal struggle absorbs all your energy. The mind is fighting the body.
So what will be the catalyst in most cases? The honest answer is having so much pain, grief, frustration and hate that to conclude ‘enough is enough’. The pain has to be bigger than the comfort. You need emotional leverage.
Emotional leverage is using negative emotions to fuel your desire for change. You transform negative energy into something constructive. You move from victim hood to empowerment. You finally take control of your life.
But what makes someone pull the lever?
Most of the time, that happens when people hit rock bottom. When you feel like you can’t go any deeper. You’re stuck. There is only one person left: you. You have nothing to lose.
If you keep doing what you do, you keep getting what you get
You exhausted so many options that you have to do something you never did before. Something radical.
Motivational speakers put the emphasis on willpower. While I do agree that it’s important, I believe the primary motivation should be wantpower.
Willpower is a strong tool, but without the want, it only leads to more frustration. You have to truly want it. Move from would to should to could to want.
- Tip: when you don’t know what you want, start to avoid what you don’t want.
What’s holding you back?
Deep down inside you already know what you need to do. You have a gut feeling. You change your life by stripping away the layers of bullshit and excuses. Stop believing the stories you tell yourself. Go to the root of your suffering. As long as you don’t face yourself, your inner anxieties will never be addressed.
But you will need patience and perseverance. ‘Everybody fails the first time.’
A new start
You don’t want to be the person you are and have an idea of the person you want to become, but it feels unnatural while doing it.
The key is to have patience and be consistent. You have to let go of the old version of yourself. Step by step you build up new reference experiences. You develop a new identity. You start to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. The beginning is always the hardest part.
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
– Buckminster Fuller –
Grab the last straw
The opposite of depressions is expression. Transmute your inner anxiety into something constructive. Why not? You have nothing to lose. Give it a shot.
When you’ve hit rock bottom, grab that last straw to use as emotional leverage. I am telling you that change is possible. Situations don’t define you. It’s how you define situations.
I know people who suffered from severe depression (including me). But we are thankful. You know why? Because it changed our lives completely. If it had been a mild depression, it could have lasted for decades.
If you’ve hit rock bottom, climb out of it. Take a first step into a new direction. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Transcend your suffering … just like the Buddha.
Drop some comments and share your ideas. Do you have to hit rock bottom to change your life? How did you change yours? What steps can you take to move forward? I would love to hear your views.
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