You know that feeling… the one where you have just shut your car or front door and instantly realize the keys are inside…locked out of reach. It can be a feeling of panic. Or frustration. Knowing you will be late. Or delayed. Trying to crawl (and fit) in the window (without the neighbors ringing the police) or calling someone who has a spare key or worse; a locksmith. Being locked out is a helpless feeling.
Sometimes in life, we find ourselves emotionally locked. It seems we are trapped in a destructive cycle and unable to break free. It feels like everyone around us is moving along with ease and comfort, and we are stuck, locked out of the joy. My friends, today, I want to provide you with a set of keys. These keys are valuable and if you will use them, the locks on your life can be opened.
Lock #1 – Depression
No one likes to admit they are depressed. Yet one out of every ten person takes some form of anti-depressant. For women over 40; it is one out of every four. Why are we so sad? My guess is expectations. We have a mountain of expectations heaped on us every day. From our families. From our jobs. Mostly from ourselves. We want to do it all. Tackle every project. Take on every job. Solve every problem. Be perfect. We are often guilty of judging ourselves by what we perceive as the success or beauty of others. We stack the demands of our lives, one on top of the other, like a cheerleading pyramid or a game of Jenga. One tiny little tremor or mis-step and everything comes crashing down. We believe we have failed at everything, are worthless and become our own worst critic. No one can function under that kind of stress. You are locked in a revolving circle of distress. So what’s the key?
Key #1 – Faith
Find faith in God. You are not an accident. You are not a mistake. You are here for a purpose and are where you need to be in this world. Find faith in yourself. You are enough. You are capable and smart with a beautiful soul. Now, you may need to re-arrange the demands in your life. You may need to learn to say “no” or “not now”. And you will also need to stop comparing yourself to others. You do not know their whole story. They have struggles and insecurities too. We all put our game face on. And that’s ok. But never, ever, believe you are not as ‘anything’ as your neighbor. Have faith that you are awesome! And watch the depression fade away.
Lock #2 – Anxiety
Do you worry all the time? What do they think of me? What’s going to happen? What did happen? Should I make this move? Should I change that decision? STOP! Seriously. It is natural to second-guess ourselves on occasion. No one is ever so confident that they never question a decision or reaction from someone else. But a rolling loop of basically unanswerable questions in your mind is crippling. Anxiety can literally rob you of any kind of peace or contentment in your life. It constantly nags you to play out every possible scenario and land on the worse one. You are locked in defeat. So the key??
Key #2 (And my favorite) - Hope
Hope is literally what I try to center my life around. Because hope is the great equalizer in this chaotic world of ours. There are so many things out of our control. Even our best and most thought out choices can backfire due to no fault of our own. Bad things happen. People leave. Disappointment shows up. But as long as there is another moment, there is another chance. We do not know the future. We can’t change the past. We only have the present of the present. My best advice to you is to embrace and savor it. Worrying is not a catalyst for change; but hope…well hope can drive you, inspire you, motivate you….change you. You cannot be anxious and hopeful at the same time. Choose Hope.
Lock #3 – Fear
We are all afraid of something. Dying alone. Running out of money. Spiders. The IRS (or is that just me?) A certain amount of fear is actually beneficial. It can keep us in check and guide our decisions. But fear can quickly get out of control and consume us. Fear will cause paralysis of the mind and heart and render us powerless to move forward in life. This is especially true in fear of the future or the unknown. Truth is, we don’t know what is going to happen down the road. But fearing tomorrow doesn’t change tomorrow. It just ruins today. So what it the key to handling fear?
Key #3 (I bet most you already guessed it.) LOVE
At first glance, you might wonder how love can conquer fear. Loving spiders or the IRS is not going to change my life. But loving my world can! Love is not only the opposite of hate, it is also the opposite of fear (which is actually the root of hate). So here is your answer. Love yourself. Love your neighbor. Show love to someone who appears unlovable. The cranky neighbor. The rude cashier. The inconsiderate co-worker. Chances are they are hurting and afraid too. Your act of love or kindness could possibly unlock their joy! Get out of your head and out of your own way. Share your love with the world. There is no greater need for it than right now! You won’t have time for fear if you are spreading love.
I know it is easy for me to just say ‘don’t be’ depressed, anxious or fearful. A few words on a page do not take away the real issues we all face. But it is my goal to at least try and encourage you. My friends, I want to share one other thing. These blogs that I post and words that I share, these are not me standing behind an electronic podium looking out and down on my precious readers. No, this is me standing in front of the mirror, telling myself these things and then deciding to share with you. We are all on this beautiful journey together. And I truly believe, now more than ever, we all share the same failures and victories. If we could learn to trust each other more, and share our common experiences, we will learn how truly connected we all are. That in itself is a key that would unlock a world of greater understanding and acceptance.