How to feel better when you are in a dark place

27th May 2016
Man walking towards light

Are you in a dark place and feel there is no way out?

Have you made bad decisions you feel are irreversible?

Are you at a stage where you have given hope and faith in yourself or others?

If you are experiencing a dark and troublesome time in your life and feel there is no way out, the steps below (if carried out methodically without compromise) will help you identify, feel better and move beyond the issues causing this. Whether the consequences of your actions caused you to break down your relationship, lose your job, destroy your friendships or generally created what seems to be an 'un-fixable' situation in your life, following the steps below will help you how to feel better. I applied this same process to my life when my own world fell apart and this is why I know first-hand it will help others in similar situations.

Step 1. Acknowledge To Yourself That There Is a Problem

It’s easy for others to recognize that there is something wrong, but the first step for you is to admit it yourself. Your feelings greatly impact the way you behave, and feelings of hurt and pain will manifest in different ways. People are often swayed by how their heart feels which can stop rational and objective thoughts. This leads to denial as the conscious mind will try to justify your emotional state by creating excuses because it’s difficult to address the real reasons behind these feelings. A fear of acknowledging these real issues helps you hide behind excuses for your feelings. This can lead to secluding yourself from others so that they can’t challenge your deeper problems. This is damaging for the subconscious as you seek sympathy from others rather than motivating yourself to implement steps required for change. Playing the victim will not change anything. Taking responsibility for your life and actions is essential so that you can see your role in getting to this state. Others actions may have impacted how you got to this point but ultimately you have chosen to get to this place. Once you can see this, you will begin to change the way you feel.

Step 2. Deal with and Direct Your Anger More Positively

When you recognize that you had a part to play in your current predicament you may feel frustrated or even angry with yourself for letting it happen. Part of this anger is from knowing that you knew better and could have prevented yourself from getting to this stage. Don’t let this anger turn into self-loathing because it will consume you in a negative way. If you let it, this anger can become a burden and prevent you from making progress. Instead look at your anger in a different light and let it be the catalyst for positive changes in your life. This phase involves finding peace and calm within and taking the anger as a motivating factor, as opposed to letting it take over. When you have acknowledged that you are angry but realize that you know how to direct this, it’s time to start making changes. Take a look at what has had an impact on your current dilemma. This may include who you associate with, your job, your relationships, your living environment, your hobbies, your beliefs, and many other possible factors. Identify key problems and think about steps you can take to adjust them to make your life better during this stage.

Subconsciously you will already know what needs to change to improve and get out of the dark place that you are in. These can be tough decisions as you may need to cut people out of your life or ask others for help. The key here is to follow through and make sure the alterations are made where they need to be. Anger can be compared to a box of matches...

“Matches can be used to start a fire which burns your house down or they can be used to burn old garbage that is cluttering up your life so it no longer affects you.”

Just like a box of matches, anger can be used for destructive or constructive purposes. Directing your anger in a positive way and taking action will help you move beyond a dark place in your life, 'lighting' the way for a better future.

Step 3. Reaffirm Your Decisions and Refuse Compromises

In order to accept a new and more positive direction you need to let go of everything holding you back. Although this is a huge step forward, you must be aware at the same time, that fear may creep in here as you embrace this new path. It’s important not to compromise or make excuses at this stage. Instead, identify what has caused your anger, stick with the decisions you’ve made and follow through with them. Adopt a neutral view so that you aren’t engrossed in the past and beating yourself up over it. Imagine if a close friend or relative was in the same position as you are here. Step outside of your own situation to analyze these decisions from an 'observers' perspective; this being impartial from your own personal bias open to the true cause and effects of your actions here.

Are their intentions inline and serving the correct purpose to what they want to achieve?

Are their decisions the easy way out or what is really needed to make a proper change?

Is this new direction going to affect other people around them in a negative way – i.e. will the decisions have negative repercussions?

Focus on your goal of leading a positive and happy life when following through with your actions. There may be times you doubt yourself during this process as fear or feelings you don't have what it takes to achieve this creep in. Keep reminding yourself here of why you are doing this so that you can push forward and fix your situation. Even if things seem too far away or too hard, just keep the self-belief and faith in your ability to see through this period of change.

Step 4. Adapting to Your Changes and New Identity

Once you have made significant changes and are living more positively you need to be able to cope with these new changes so that you don’t slip back to that dark place. For example, a friend of mine recently got divorced which is a huge game-changer in itself. His whole adult life he had identified with himself as being a family man associating himself as a parent and a provider. Following his divorce his life changed drastically and as a result he was forced to create a new identity. He made changes to his lifestyle and looked at himself differently. After such a life changing event it’s easy to fall into a dark place, however, it takes strength to adapt to new circumstances and thrive. My friend adapted to his new lifestyle through making necessary changes and quite quickly removed himself from the dark place that he was in during this transition.

It’s important to note that when you make adjustments to get out of a dark place you aren’t completely reinventing yourself, you’re still the same person. You are just changing the way you perceive yourself and allowing others to see you in a more positive light. You have the power to choose to be able to adapt and be flexible to anything that is happening in your life.

Step 5. Accepting What Has Happened

When you start to live in a more positive environment with essential changes made, you can never pretend to ignore what has just happened. There will be times when you look back at your worst and darkest states of mind. Rather than immersing yourself with how you felt during these times, you can instead congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come and be proud of the changes you have made. Everyone is shaped by their past and it’s important to look at back at this as a positive rather than negative series of experiences. You can’t go back and change what has happened in your past, you can only choose to change the way you feel and perceive it. Try another angle and see it as a life lesson and something you know have the skills and experience to overcome next time you are faced with the same situation so that you don’t end repeating the same negative theme again. Your strength is now the wisdom of your past armed with a new-found strength to keep pushing forward because you've been there done that successfully.

Step 6. Starting a New Chapter in Your Life

By putting one step in front of the other you learn to walk. By taking that first step, then another, and then another one – one step at a time - you will advance further and faster to your desired outcome. There will become a time as you begin to do this, where you begin to gain the momentum necessary that the change will happen thick and fast to the point where you won't even have to think about it. This is the key, and it will happen. At such a stage the change is autonomous and systematic, whereby you have created a new pattern which forms the tapestry of your new life.

As you begin to do this understand that everyone is different. Some people can jump into the ocean and swim straight away. However, others take a little longer as they build up the confidence and skills to make the plunge. That's what makes us all unique and individual. Everyone is ready in their own time and there is no set time limit for people to overcome challenges. The most important point is to keep progressing and working towards your goal. By following these steps you can help yourself out of a dark place, and even better, you now have the wisdom, awareness and skills, to help someone else in the same place you once abode.

A final reflection

When we decide to leave the earth our life story is passed on by the memories we leave, the wisdom we have shared and the knowledge we have enriched people's lives with. This leaves one final impression that we are remembered by from every person we have touched. Consider this especially when you are in the darkest moments. This is where we actually gain the most wisdom to later help and inspire the people we will leave the biggest impression on by helping them through the same dark place we once were in.

- Giovanni Lordi

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