Some heavy energy has been circulating throughout the universe, and perhaps you, like many others, have experienced an emotional breakdown. This may have inspired you to question your path and life purpose or encounter trouble seeing a clear way forward.
The universe is literally a sea of energy, and that energy ebbs and flows in waves on which we collectively ride. These high and low tides are natural. No one and no thing blooms or rides high all the time. Plants, trees, animals, even stars — these things all move through patterns of life, death and rebirth. Humans are part of the universe, and these same cycles rule us.
Low periods are natural, and although we ideally weather them in a calm way, we’re all human and sometimes we lose our shit. That’s completely fine.
Sometimes on the other side of the emotional breakdown is a breakthrough, a new idea, fresh insight, or just a general releasing of pent-up feelings. Part of self-love is loving yourself all the time, on both good days and bad.
But then tomorrow comes and we must move on. Here’s how.
1. Don’t define yourself by a breakdown
People working to heal themselves from depression or anxiety may have the tendency to overly identify with negative emotions. We may say to ourselves, “well I guess I am a horrible, depressed or anxious person after all,” which is of course ridiculous.
A sad day doesn’t make you a sad person. Everybody has sad days. The important thing is, what now? Will you cling to the identity of a sad person or will you embrace the you of today, a you who may be a little lighter and a little more at peace?
When I was younger, I would have the impulse to run away during low periods. I’d start looking for new jobs in faraway cities, take road trips, anything to escape myself. Looking back, I allowed these down times to envelop me. I adopted them as part of my core identity instead of accepting them as a fleeting experience, a passing emotional breakdown.
After the storm passed, I failed to allow myself to bounce back. Instead of moving on with the flow of life, I’d stay stuck in the trough because I believed myself to be fundamentally depressed — not experiencing a temporary state of sadness.
This philosophy didn’t give me the option of feeling peaceful. I felt peace was something I lacked, not something innate to my being. The reality is that we humans are granted consciousness by the same divine energy that powers plants and turns the solar system. This energy is peace personified. We may experience storms but at the core, we are peace. Storms are just weather.
Keeping that in mind, work to honor your feelings when recovering from a storm, but try not to wallow. Wallowing is essentially resisting the flow of life, but ignoring feelings for the sake of faking happiness is also not conducive to spiritual growth. There is no perfect answer. Do the best you can.
Resisted feelings don’t disappear. They merely burrow, waiting to be dealt with later. This burrowing could lead to future emotional breakdowns. Dealing with emotions as they arise helps prevent this build up.
Unrecognized feelings live in the subconscious where they may cause us to act out in unhealthy ways. Instead, hold these feelings in awareness and investigate. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way?” If no answers come, that’s okay. Just sit and listen.
Emotions are how your soul speaks to you. Honor your soul by feeling your feelings.
2. Recognize that today is a new day
Don’t let a bad yesterday influence how you feel today. Leave the past behind; don’t bring the sadness of yesterday into today unless you legitimately still feel sad.
When we stop identifying with our feelings, recognizing that feelings are fleeting and not part of our constant, true identity, the possibility of moving on becomes more real.
If you say to yourself, “I knew it. I knew that I’m a sad person and I’ll never be happy,” that leaves zero room for you to feel better and move on. Recognize that you had a bad day, feel compassion for yourself, dig deep to see if any lessons have been learned, and then move on. Exercise, spend time in nature, do an activity that takes you out of the mind and into the body, into the spirit. There, you’ll find the road back to peace.
3. Make no decisions during or immediately after an emotional breakdown
Although it’s important to avoid defining yourself by these low times, these periods will inevitably shape you. That’s why they happen, to teach you and open you up to accessing even deeper layers of self. These layers never end, they continue unfolding until all that’s left is the pure connection with the divine.
Although most of us are not living in this fully connected state of enlightenment, emotional breakdowns, as counterintuitive as it may seem, help us dig a little deeper. Pain becomes the pathway to healing, it gives us compassion and helps us connect with each other in deeper ways.
Without pain, we’d never even look for peace. We’d just be awash in a world of Stepford wives and sterility, never experiencing the lows but also never soaring through the highs.
This is the magical ride of life, and all we can do is trust that the storm will pass and learn how to ride the flow.
After emerging from an emotional breakdown, you may examine your life with a shifted viewpoint. You may feel more you — better able to express yourself — as the storm redistributes energy and forces you to stand your ground while the winds blow. Or you may feel weakened, but that’s okay. Give yourself time as you make your way back to love, leaving fear behind. This is the practice. This is why we learn all these tools, to help us navigate these storms.
Eventually, we find higher ground and enjoy moments — however long — of peace before the next storm hits.
This isn’t a punishment; it’s just life. Up and down. High and low.
As you emerge from the storm of an emotional breakdown, take a minute to take a minute. Evaluate. What did you learn? What should you do next? Maybe you need to take a step back or perhaps you need to move forward with more purpose. The answer will be different for everyone. Listen to your internal guidance through meditation, journaling or any other method you have of connecting with your inner self.
How do you rebound after emotional breakdowns?
Image by Ian Barbour via Flickr