I grew up with a good head on my shoulders. I knew the world was just fine. And I knew I was just fine. I didn’t understand why I was experiencing all these frustrating emotions. I was a young man starting my business. I knew what I needed to do, and I attempted to execute. After repeated failures, I couldn’t shake the fear and frustration that continued to build.
After a few years, I was numb and without hope. I knew that all I needed to do was transform my thoughts and emotions. I knew I just needed to change my mindset. But no matter what I tried or what personal growth work or healing work I did, I just couldn’t shake it. I really didn’t think I was ever going to get out of it. I would look up at the stars at night and where I used to feel joy I felt despair and hopelessness. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get rid of these feelings. It seemed so maddening to me.
For all of you who are discouraged and in despair with no plausible way out, let me offer what helped me to transform my situation. First, if I can transform my situation, I know you can too. There’s nothing different about me. You do have the power to get out. Life CAN change. You CAN feel differently.
Secondly, the only thing you need to get out is a desire to believe. You don’t even need belief. Not yet. You may not be able to believe in this moment. There were years where I couldn’t believe. But you can at least maintain a desire to believe. The possibility that at some point in the future you might be able to believe. That’s it. That’s all you need. Just a desire. No matter how small it is.
Because the only difference between the most joyous and the most frustrated people is the difference between being open and closed. Being closed means no new information or learning to help you can get in. Being open means it can. That’s the only difference that separates the highest of the high between the lowest of the low.
So learn to open your heart. No matter how much it hurts. And practice keeping it open. That’s exactly what the desire to believe will do. Even if you can’t believe and haven’t been able to for years. And that desire will let you begin taking the steps one by one to begin the path of hope.
Here is a poem I wrote a few years ago when I was in pain. May it provide you with words of encouragement.
Alone in My Pain
Wounded I walk everywhere I go
Trembling and haunted by memories of the past
Overwhelmed entirely by tasks of the present
Trying to be normal, I put on a disguise
But unwilling to let go is my pain
Always present at my mind’s forefront
Running away, I try to forget
Unable to escape, I get dragged down
Every inspiring dream I have
Every challenge I undertake
Withers and fades away under the stress
Frustrated and hindered, until I am helpless
Moping around immune and indifferent
Unable to feel, see, hear, taste, or smell
Enveloped and trapped, no conceivable way out
Buried and burdened under the pressures of life
Incapable of enjoying the beauties of this world
How can others be so happy?
What is it I don’t understand?
Who else could understand this grief, this hurt?
Surely no one out there can feel just like me
No one’s had my difficulties or afflictions
No one’s experienced the feelings of my past
Why am I cursed, unlike everyone else?
As I mope, an old chap passes by
He says, “Son, you look distant and depressed
“Despite your cover, your eyes are glossed over
“And your eyes tell the truth of your heart.”
He soon leaves, and I begin to take notice
Some people pass by I look in the eye
Peering past their eyes and into their souls
Surprised every wit, I try it again
I’m startled to find many souls like mine
Then something deep inside moves me to react
As I direct these souls out of their pain
I pause to notice my pain is no more