Part two of taking a walk down memory lane of advice columnist.
I am not happy. My girlfriend just broke up with me, I have to find a new place to live, and I’m not sure what I can afford on my own since I am a student. I find myself worrying a lot and going to bed every night feeling awful. I stay up every night until about 2 in the morning and wake up in the morning at 7. I don’t do my homework, I don’t clean my house, I drink way too much, and I am a bit of a chain smoker. I hate my appearance, I am always exhausted, I have no friends and I don’t want any either. I feel trapped every day, unable to reach out to people. All I do is stay home and watch T.V. on most nights. Do you have any advice for me?
-Lost and Alone
It sounds like you are really in a rough spot- I am sorry. I wish you wouldn’t feel so alone though as I have learned in my life that we all experience varying degrees of isolation and loneliness at different points in our lives. Sometimes, when we are in the midst of our own dramas though, it is hard to see that we are never alone and that things are never as bad as they seem, and it becomes easy to perpetuate our cycle of pain that somehow becomes a kind of security blanket.
To help you see that you are not alone, I would really like to give you some personal examples. At one point during my life, my GI Bill education benefits unexpectedly ran out, which was a huge shock because I had checked into their expiration and really had it set in my head that they didn’t run out until a much later date than they actually did. I learned the hard way that the government would no longer be paying me. Shortly after that, I lost my job. I was so blind-sighted by the loss of all of my income, that as I was being let go….. I found myself frozen, unable to defend my position and mostly shocked that I lost any form of financial stability that I had. I allowed all of the negativity swirling around to infect my psyche, which led me to close off from my friends and community. I felt like hiding my face from the world because I felt so worthless.
But alas, no matter what happens, life goes on. You have to drag yourself out of bed everyday and try to put your best foot forward no matter what. I couldn’t hide out for long though since I walk everywhere, and through that type of transportation it is inevitable that I will run into at least a few people who want to make small talk. So, I decided to do a little experiment and see if it really is OK to be transparent. Instead of launching into my usual bubbly self when running into people -I decided to keep it real. My first victim was a man who I have only met a handful of times. He asked how I was and I automatically smiled and said, “I am well thank you, and you?” I caught myself though, and after I fired off my automatic response, I said- “Actually, no- I’m not OK.” From there, I got into my story and found myself shaking in anticipation of judgment. To my surprise and delight, this person did not judge, I was offered a hug and a sympathetic ear and a loan in case push came to shove. I was floored by this display of warmth and love from a person I had only had contact with a few times. My day was kind of made after this interaction. I felt as if a weight had been lifted and I was no longer alone. As I was walking home, I saw lots of people I hadn’t seen in what seemed like ages. Each and every one of them blessed me with a warm smile and hello. Strangers were actually honking and waving (both male and female), passersby were just smiling and wishing me well. I couldn’t believe it. By the time I got home, I was smiling so big that my face actually hurt. It’s as if each person I passed injected some love into my world, which made me give some back and before I knew it, I had a large aura of goodness and protection surrounding me. Hands down, this was one of the coolest days of my life.
Later that evening, I was basking in the flow of positive vibes that carried me through the day and decided to do myself a favor. I wrote about all of the not so pleasant things that happened to me since my head was now clear of the unrealistic negative abyss. The exercise I did was recommended by my friend Kim. It is basically a stream of consciousness thing that she calls “taking out the trash.” It consists of opening up a notebook, and making an x where you want to stop writing. Then you start and just let the thoughts flow without thinking about what your pencil is transcribing. Stop at the x and close the book, taking care not to re-read until at least 24 hours later. That way, you will have a clear mind when you go back, and you will find some valuable insight about what you are actually feeling.
I also did an exercise created by Rob Breszny….with my own added twist. I wrote all of my perceived negative traits on a piece of paper, which was a little time consuming because I had to really focus on separating my real negative traits from what others told me was wrong about me. I crumpled up the paper and put as much angry energy into it as possible, then I threw it into the trash. Next, I wrote all of my positive traits (which I was satisfied to find this list really outweighed the negative one) and put the list under my pillow to help manifest a greater prominence of these qualities. I would strongly recommend that you do one or both of these exercises to force yourself into a catharsis, thus making room for some positive energy.
Later that week, I was offered jobs and since then I have had a regular flow of abundance and love into my world. Things are still not as secure or as regular as I think I would like them to be. I still worry if I can pay my rent….and the bills… oh man, it makes my stomach turn to think about it. So, I am not saying that just opening up magically fixes things. What I am saying is if you just reach out to one person, it can open the door for support and joy which can lead you to make an adjustment in how you view your world, and sometimes the best medicine is a simple recognition that life is okay.
My closing words are this: Sometimes, the very worst things that happen to us turn out to be the very best things that happen to us. Please trust that your life is progressing and unfolding just as it is supposed to, and that you are destined for great things.
If you would like any of my rambling advice, contact me at email@example.com