Break the Cycle of Despair
Joan Baez--: “Action is the antidote to despair.”
So this is my taking action to break the Cycle of despair as I see it.. Within my own mind.
Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire about a result. Hm. Interesting. And, despair is defined as the lack of hope, or lack of such a feeling of expectation and desire about a result.
I want to understand and map a way out of despair.. It seems for some of us.. Despair and its opposite hope are the continuous rollercoaster of our lives.
At 16, when my friend took her own life, new years eve, 1971.. . It affected me in ways it took me decades to come to terms with… literally decades..
Not until 2013, when I was at a weekend workshop, I only attended to support a friend.. Did I actually give voice to my story… The right person asked the right question that opened the floodgates… To an extent..
Yes It was raw, real and probably really disjointed. However, there was very little emotion in that first telling.. Except in looking back I know the anger seeped through a bit in places…
Back to the despair/hope cycle -- or rollercoaster ride..
I really used to think I was the only one who felt this way… It’s kinda funny that the first thing people say about their situation is often that they are sure they are the only one who feels that way… Or has that quirk, or pain, or .. well whatever.. I didn’t have a name for it.. Would not have thought of either extreme as despair or hope to be honest.. I didn’t ever want to spend time in any emotion.. Emotion equaled pain therefor.. DO NOT FEEL any emotion and thus no pain.. Back then I was in physical pain 24/7 and did not have the tools to manage it and had no time, no interest or bandwidth to consider adding emotion to the mix.
It's important for me to note here that I now have a whole toolbox filled with meditations, mindfulness and visualizations that afford me the freedom from the cornucopia of drugs I used to ingest to try to get relief.
LOL I can hear the laughter, how naïve... How simplistic... How very one dimensional... or is that two dimensional?
So these are my thoughts after some interesting research… I started by asking ChatGPT AI … and I want to share what it offered.. Let’s see what you think..
Q What is despair?
The ChatGPT says-
Despair is a feeling of utter hopelessness and discouragement. It is a sense of being overwhelmed by negative emotions and a lack of confidence in one's ability to improve a situation. Despair can lead to feelings of sadness, depression, and even a loss of the will to live. It is often associated with difficult life events such as the loss of a loved one, financial problems, health problems, or relationship difficulties. However, it can also result from a more general sense of disillusionment with life, the world, or oneself. It is important to seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed by despair, as it can be a serious mental health issue that can impact one's quality of life.
Q How long does an emotion last
The length of time an emotion lasts can vary depending on a number of factors, including the intensity of the emotion, the individual's ability to regulate their emotions, and the events or circumstances that triggered the emotion.
Typically, emotions are experienced as intense and fleeting experiences, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. However, the after-effects of an emotion can persist and influence a person's thoughts and behaviors for much longer, sometimes even for days or weeks.
For example, after experiencing a traumatic event, a person may continue to feel anxious or depressed for an extended period of time. Similarly, intense emotions such as anger or grief can linger and continue to impact a person's thoughts and behaviors even after the initial emotional response has subsided.
It is important to note that while emotions are natural and normal experiences, if they persist and interfere with daily life, it may be a sign of a more serious mental health issue and professional help should be sought.
Q Can acknowledging your feelings change your brain?
Yes, acknowledging your feelings can change your brain. The process of recognizing and naming your emotions is known as emotion regulation, and it has been shown to have a positive impact on the brain and overall well-being.
When you acknowledge your feelings, you activate the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive functioning, including attention and decision making. This activation allows you to process and regulate your emotions, reducing their intensity and impact on your thoughts and behaviors.
In addition, by acknowledging and expressing your emotions, you can increase activity in the brain's "social cognition network," which helps you understand and respond to the emotions of others. This can help improve your relationships and social connections, which in turn can positively impact your mental health.
Overall, acknowledging and regulating your emotions can change the way your brain processes and responds to them, helping to improve your emotional well-being and overall quality of life.
Q What are some quick things you can do to help you ease out of despair?
Here are some things that might help ease feelings of despair:
- Reach out for support: Talking to a friend, family member, or a mental health professional can provide a much-needed outlet for your feelings and can help you gain a different perspective on your situation.
- Practice self-care: Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies. Taking care of your physical and emotional well-being can help boost your mood and reduce feelings of despair.
- Focus on gratitude: Practice gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for in your life. Focusing on the good in your life can help shift your perspective and reduce feelings of hopelessness.
- Connect with nature: Spending time in nature, whether it be through hiking, gardening, or simply taking a walk, has been shown to have a calming and restorative effect on the mind.
- Engage in mindfulness: Practice mindfulness by focusing your attention on the present moment. Mindfulness meditation and yoga can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and promote feelings of calmness and well-being.
- Seek professional help: If your feelings of despair persist and are affecting your daily life, consider seeking help from a mental health professional, who can provide you with personalized strategies for managing your emotions and overcoming despair.
Remember, it is important to be kind to yourself and seek help if needed. It is okay to not be okay, and reaching out for support is a sign of strength, not weakness.
I think the AI answers were pretty good. I think we are at a place now where we can more easily reach out and share with someone that all is not well with us.
I think it's important to make a point of talking about our feelings and emotions, our state of mind. I believe it is even more crucial to get yourself to feel each emotion. Emotions only last for about 90 seconds to a couple of minutes..
Really allowing yourself to be in the moment.. With all of the not so nice or fun ones too… This means despair as to me, it’s one of the worst.
So let's practice staying in touch with your internal self.
One of the most important things you can do is make a point of staying in touch with your feelings, your emotions..
When you find it all too much … rather than stuffing down the emotion and choking back your feelings.. Like I have said for years.. Sometimes you just have to wallow. Yep.. wallow.. Not for long, know that The fastest way out of emotional pain is through it.
If you close your eyes and have a quick nap.. When you wake up, in those first few seconds you can choose to think a positive thought.. Be grateful for one small thing..
The softness of the blanket over you… hearing a bird at your window… taking that next breath -any little thing you can choose to be grateful for will start to grow a new seed of hope… tell yourself you accept you as you are.. That is the first step to self-love .. which is the early sign post on the road to self-confidence. It’s all inside you… You can choose to start acting as if you were feeling better, take the time to smile at yourself in the mirror.
Did you know
When you let yourself wallow in your own feelings, particularly despair, you'll feel more comfortable around other people and their feelings. This can help you build bonds with others, and it can ease your loneliness.
Believe me.. It’s never too late to begin a new story for yourself. And we have the ability to rebuild ourselves all the time. The choice of how you react is always yours…
I’ll leave you with this Victor Frankl Quote: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
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