Q: It is very hard for me to not be discouraged and depressed. It is a time of seeing truths and hopefully growing in spirit, but the truths are very negative. It is seeing self-centeredness in people, especially my family, which breaks my heart, and a lack of love. I examine myself, and feel I’m putting love out, but since it doesn’t come back, feel a lacking in myself. I long for closeness, caring, I pray and meditate on positive instead of negative results, but have yet to experience those results. — G.
A: Dear G.,
“Discourage” comes from Latin roots meaning to be torn apart from your heart. So let me give you some heartening news: It’s not a bad thing to be disillusioned. Your seeing of truths and growth in spirit – which allow you to make even difficult observations – are part of a process of waking up. What hurts is the shattering of fantasies: that someone else might fill a lack you feel, that what you give comes back to you with some degree of immediacy. For you to go through grief under the circumstances seems perfectly natural: You want love in return, and it doesn’t come, at least not in full measure; you want closeness, and instead you meet up with others’ self-centeredness.
Your grief marks a turning point in which you can clearly see reality and, rather than let life come to you, rise to meet it by building in yourself confidence, hope, and fortitude. You’ve already started this process by focusing on the positive, especially in your relationships with your family. What causes your discouragement and depression is that you hope these changes in you will bring outer results. Reality is proving you wrong. It does sometimes happen that when you change, you tip the balance in your relationships and they improve. But it also happens that you can change and others refuse to budge.
That’s exactly when you need to “take heart” and remember what a wise friend once told us, “Life is good so long as you remain strong.” Find what nurtures you and draw it to yourself. Build a prayer or meditation practice. Walk in Nature’s healing splendor. Find an animal companion who loves you for who you are, no holds barred. Read inspired literature; listen to uplifting music. Eat foods that bring you health. Be charitable, in the trust that the ripples you send into the universe DO come back to you even if you don’t feel or recognize them because it’s often a roundabout process. Let yourself feel outrage when reality doesn’t match your expectations, and then use that outrage as fuel for building a better world. Rest when you need to, even if only for the space of a few quiet breaths. Clothe yourself in the qualities you wish you could see in others, knowing that this adornment will “catch on” in any other hearts open to change.
In all these ways and more you can build your courage to become the kind of person you wish to know. And then, you will always be in the good company of at least one person (you!), and, by virtue of resonance, you’ll gradually find others around you who also know how to inspire by their presence. There’s the paradox: You can’t count on things getting better, but if you don’t lose heart, they naturally will get better.
Blessings on your journey,