Some days it’s good to keep your TV off. Some days it’s good not to entertain yourself with the Internet. Some days it’s good not to go outside. Some days it’s good not to answer your phone. Some days it’s good not to get out of bed.
Each day we are introduced to world tragedies and local crime, and then we mindlessly shuffle to our daily grind. We may smell the smoke and sense the fire of the world’s pain when we hear about atrocities that are outside our neighborhoods or national borders. But it’s easier to distance ourselves and see things as simply “the news over there” that’s happening to “them”. We may comment on social media to pay tribute then we go pour another coffee before going to work.
But when tragedy strikes in our own personal universe such as the failing health of loved ones, or loss of jobs, wealth, health or relationships during the same time of the rest of the world’s events, it is very possible to feel as if we are caught up in the wild spreading fire of despair.
We become shocked, depressed, numb and helpless as we gaze into the fire of our lives.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to do something different. We can choose to rise higher that the fire.
Here are three ways to help us move on up during difficult and devastating times.
- Embrace the Slow
Many times when tragedies strike in our lives, we want to move quickly to instantaneously fix the problem and move out of this painful space. This is natural but many times, by moving faster we actually compound our stress. For example, when dealing with the loved one in the hospital and we get a call from the doctor and panic sets in, it’s easy to lose purses, wallets, keys and you our own health. By creating awareness to slow yourself down and ask, “What do I need in this moment to feel grounded or safe?,” not only do you physically slow down but you also give yourself the space to carry on with a sense of peace in that moment.
Move like this throughout your day. Everyday. It’s important to give your brain an opportunity to physically rest whether it’s with sleep, time away from the Internet or news. It’s important to also not fight the process of moving through the fire of discomfort. If you do, you are simply fanning the flames of pain. Praying, mindfulness, meditation are also ways to rise above the fire. If you can’t do any of these, then go on a walk outside. The movement and oxygen will help in various degrees.
- Find Purpose or Find Good Moments
When dealing with the fire of the unthinkable, it’s hard to be grateful. Sometimes people will say, “this will make you stronger” and if your are not in that head or heart space, you will simply want to be strong enough to punch them in the nose. But with a little space and the intention to try something different, you can look at the moment that you are in and recognize that you have come this far. And how the other past moments of your life have prepped you for this moment. You may find your purpose or clarity in this hot moment of how you want to live your life or how you want to love or contribute. This helps you rise higher than the pain you are experiencing.
Now if you can’t find any meaning or purpose because you are still in a state of shock, anger, or despair, then consider this option.
Find the good in each moment, no matter how small.
When my mom was dying in the hospital and we knew the end was coming, it was like I brought a chair and a ball and chain and sat in the middle of the roaring fire. Tragedies were still happening in the world and everything felt hopeless. The flames were rising and smoke was building and I was profoundly hopeless.
Then in an instant, a nurse came with a comb and put out the fire.
She came in quietly to my mother’s room and didn’t say anything. She checked the monitors and my mom’s vitals. And with gentleness, she combed my mother’s hair and wiped her face and arms. Then she made sure my mom was tucked in her blankets and smiled to me as she disappeared to the other halls of hospice. Her gentleness, slowness and purpose of compassion dowsed the fire. She helped me rise higher than fire. I could breathe again in that moment. I felt safe in that moment. My gratitude was immense and I could keep going to the next moment.
- Keep Going in the Direction of Hope
The last step is to keep moving in the direction that you know your gut or intuition is guiding you. It may feel messy or uncertain at first, but with each step you will gain knowledge and clarity. In any big life event, especially one that is tragic, it can be shocking and life altering and we lose our footing through the haze and smoke of fear. By moving in a direction to help our situation or our loved ones, we start to create a peace and footing even with the crumbling foundation beneath us. Sometimes we don’t realize it, but it’s at those very scary life-altering moments that we are building and creating a stronger version of ourselves that didn’t exist before.
And it’s this stronger version of ourselves that helps us find grace, peace, and hope as we lift ourselves higher than the fire. In this moment wherever you are, know that you have within you the strength you need to help you breathe beyond the smoke of life’s uncertainties, rise higher than the fire and keep going towards peace. Namaste.