“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” ~Desmond Tutu
And, my guess is, if you’re here, reading this article today, you know exactly that feeling I mean. It’s when your stomach stays in constant knots, you always feel a lump in your throat and your tears are always just below the surface, ready to burst forth at any inappropriate time.
It’s when your heart has been broken, or when you’ve finally felt the final “snap” of a broken bridge from a life you’ve left behind. Sometimes it’s when your children grow up and leave you, and other times it’s when your parents pass away, or when you lose the job you’ve loved for so long.
Whatever the reason for your pain, it’s there and it almost feels like the physical side of it can be as intense as the emotional side. You can’t eat, or you over eat. You can’t do anything – you are lucky if you even shower, much less function on a “normal” level.
You dissociate and you cease to exist, at least on certain levels. It feels awful, and it’s unhealthy. It’s time to change your mind, because if you don’t, you’re sure to continue on your current unhealthy and potentially devastating path.
You’ve got to take back your life, friend.
What do you do when your heart feels broken beyond repair?
How do you deal when your whole world seems to be falling apart before your eyes? What does it take to survive the difficult times? How can you get through the most difficult days of your life when all appears lost?
How do you find the will to go on and do the regular, everyday things that you need to do in order to maintain a life?
Whether it’s the end of a relationship or the inevitable foreclosure of a home, some circumstances are simply beyond saving. Some situations have to run their course and other plans need to be made. But hopeless events don’t exclude the possibility of better days ahead. If you’re in a hopeless situation, letting go, learning, and moving on can be a great solution.
Try these strategies when it appears all is lost:
- Let it go. If the outcome is inevitable, does obsessing over it ever help? This might feel like giving up, but how intelligent is it to continue with something that can’t possibly be won? Make the decision to let go and get on with the rest of your life.
- Purge your emotions. Hopefully, you already know several healthy ways to make yourself feel better. Perhaps you feel better after a long exercise session. Others feel relief after a good cry. Maybe having dinner with a friend will boost your spirits. The key is to find a healthy solution. Drinking, drugs, and spending money irresponsibly are a few examples of unhealthy alternatives. Choose wisely.
- Try to learn something. In most cases, hopeless situations are at least partially the result of poor decisions. Think about how you contributed to the situation at hand. Did you ignore warning signs when you first started dating your partner? Did you take out a larger mortgage than you could afford? It’s common to repeat our mistakes. What can you learn to avoid a repeat performance in the future? Imagine how great your life would be if you only made each mistake once.
- Enjoy yourself. Now might be the perfect time to visit your favorite restaurant, take a walk in the park, or see a movie with a friend. Just because life has thrown a curveball doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. Have a good laugh and forge ahead.
- Keep up with your responsibilities. Your children still need your love and attention. The bills still have to be paid. Avoid letting the other areas of your life suffer.
- Create a plan for the future. Looking forward to an interesting and exciting future may be the best way to move forward. If the future seems bleak, it’s hard to be happy. Allow yourself to be open to the possibilities and create a compelling future for yourself. Then take one small step towards making that future a reality.
- Make a list of all the things that fill you with gratitude. It’s likely there are many people in the world with far more challenging circumstances. It can be easy to forget this fact. If you think about it, you have lots of things going for you. Make a list and add to it often.
- Remember other situations in your life that seemed hopeless. Odds are you survived and ultimately came out on the other side more resilient and knowledgeable.
Hopeless situations happen. Not every situation is salvageable. Letting go and moving forward can be the best solution. Worrying has never changed the actual outcome of any situation. Allow yourself to enjoy life and create a future that keeps your eyes facing forward.
What’s the True Definition of Inner Strength?
When we go actively searching for ways to beef up our inner strength, it’s because we’re in a state of helplessness – almost like we’re hanging on by a thread and feel like if we don’t get a stronger hold on our emotions and confidence, we could lose everything.
Everyone has her own definition of inner strength. You might see it as simply being able to say no when you want to, while another person might consider it living life in a way where every action and emotion you have is geared toward your happiness.
We’re All Born With Inner Strength
When we’re first born, we are void of excuses – of negative thought patterns about ourselves or life in general. There’s nothing we can’t do. You’ve seen babies and toddlers move about – they do it with no fear. They attempt things without thinking of consequences.
Of course that kind of carelessness can have a negative impact on you as well, so there’s definitely a health balance between not caring and caring so much that outside factors cripple or paralyze you.
We Allow Events and People to Chip Away at Our Inner Strength
It doesn’t just dissipate like steam rising from a boiling pot. Inner strength is envied by others, and ignored by tragedies that we go through. In order for this to occur we have to hand over a certain amount of permission allowing it to happen.
As children, we’re taught that other people have power over us to some degree – teachers, parents – any and all authority figures. We’re taught to play nice and cave in to some activities and elements of life we may not enjoy just to be polite.
It’s hard to grow out of that mindset, but kids usually take a path when they reach the teen years – and it continues on throughout adulthood. As a teen, you either were labeled headstrong (which translates into inner strength), or not labeled at all – because people without inner strength are barely noticeable. They go along with whatever expectations people have of them.
Sometimes even if someone starts out on the right path – of having ample inner strength – they can lose it as they let their defenses down and allow other people to deeply influence them. Or, they go through a series of situations that bring them to their knees and with every encounter, they’re a little less strong.
Inner Strength Can Always Be Replenished
No matter how often you feel like you’ve been knocked down or that you’re unable to face a situation, you will always have a spark of inner strength ignited in your soul. Sometimes it will be a large flame and sometimes you’ll wonder if it’s gone for good.
But it’s in there. You simply have to fan the flames and focus on it to get it back. Like a muscle that’s atrophied, your inner strength has to be flexed for it to work again. It has to be used on a regular basis – tested so that it becomes a force that’s able to protect you from harm and lift you to heights you never knew were possible.
A final bit of advice, from me to you: if you are feeling guilty or nervous about moving forward, ask yourself how much control you really have over the causes of those feelings.
If you are able to control the situation, then make the necessary changes and move forward – guilt and anxiety are doing you no good. If you cannot control the situation, you must let it go and focus on what you CAN control. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your energy and doing yourself and your loved ones a huge disservice.
You feel me?
Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. Let’s discuss it.
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Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.