How can we address misery within ourselves in a way that elevates our perspective and frees us from wallowing in an emotional underworld? Rachel cautions us to be tender with ourselves. If we let our pain teach us, we will be bettered by it. -Editor
Often I think the hells trick us into being more miserable than we need to be. Perhaps we don’t feel as energized or as happy as we would like some days. And some days we feel a little depressed and down. But do we say to ourselves, “Oh hello, sadness how are you today? What do you need?” No. Not usually. Most of the time we say, “Go away misery! I want happiness! Leave me alone. I hate you.” And then we begin to get mad at ourselves for being so miserable. And it spreads to those around us and sometimes we feel guilty for lashing out at others just because we are miserable. And the hells have a party because our misery becomes a toilet bowl being flushed—an endless spiral downwards.
How can we stop this downward spiral? Plugging it up often seems like the easiest way. Bottle up that emotion! Ignore irritation! But Thomas Moore in his book Care of the Soul cautions: “Hiding the dark places results in a loss of soul” (148). As tempting as it is to ignore or bury the things that bother us, we actually are stifling a part of ourselves that needs listening to. Moore also says: “Care of the soul begins with observance of how the soul manifests itself and how it operates...Observance is a word from ritual and religion. It means to watch out for but also to keep and honor, as in the observance of a holiday” (5). So when negative states are manifest in our life, does observing and honoring those states help?