The Only Way Out Is Through

I was talking to a friend the other day who’s going through a difficult time. She said words I’ve heard and felt many times: “I wish I could fast forward to get to the resolution of this situation.”

I’ve thought similar things in my life, always during difficult times:

“I wish I could go to sleep and wake up when this is over.”

“I wish I could go away and come back when this problem is gone.” Ah yes, wishing the heartache away… wouldn’t that be great?

As I said to my friend and have said to many clients, and myself: the only way out is through.

We must go through the pain to get to the other side of it. There is no other way. Well, there is another way. It’s the way of sweeping it under the rug and ignoring the difficult decisions and emotions that come with painful situations (ending the relationship, watching a loved one suffer through an illness, losing a loved ones, quitting the job, dealing with your own illness, standing up for what you know is true for you despite others’ disagreement… the list goes on.)

However, that ignorance and sweeping under the rug is only a temporary solution. Trust me, I’ve been there. The pain comes back eventually. The difficult decisions and emotions you put off in the hopes that you’ll wake up one day with the situation resolved return in one way or another.

Yes, the only way out of the difficult situation is to go through the pain. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel but to get to it, you need to walk through the dark tunnel.

Going through the situation (aka, the tunnel) is not easy but can be more bearable by keeping the following in mind:

Take one step, one moment at a time.

Don’t think too far ahead. It can freak you out. Just take one step, one moment at a time through your tunnel. Only think about that one step. Don’t think about the next one until it’s time to take it.

Don’t ignore your feelings.

Let yourself experience all the painful emotions that show up. Don’t ignore them or pretend they aren’t there. Allowing yourself to feel them will help you process them and help you get through them quicker. Remember, emotions are energy in motion (e-motion). They need to move. Let them be felt and move through and out of your body. Otherwise they’ll get stuck, and so will you.

Set and keep your boundaries.

Do not allow negativity into your space. Negative people and situations are not allowed in the tunnel. Only supportive, kind, caring, compassionate people are permitted. Surround yourself with love. Clear your social media feeds of negative stories and people. In fact, clear all that negativity from your life. Your tunnel is dark enough without all that. If you want to let them back in when you are through your difficult time, have at it. But, I bet you won’t.

Be kind to yourself.

Declare your tunnel a no-judgment zone. Have self-compassion. Love yourself as you would your child, your pet, or your best friend. Pamper yourself with whatever you need. Stay in bed for a day, spend time in nature, disconnect from the world, re-connect with long lost passions and friends. Whatever you need, allow it into your life. Self-compassion and kindness will help your walk through the tunnel be more bearable.

When you find yourself wishing time away so you don’t have to experience pain or make some tough choices, remember that the way out is always through. Although not easy, if you keep some of the above suggestions in mind, you can and will make it through (and out!) It’s the difficult short-term decisions that you make in your tunnel that lead to long-term solutions best for you and for all. Don’t be afraid to go through the painful situation. It is your way out and will lead you to the light that is inevitably on the other side.

This blog was originally featured on HuffPost on June 13, 2017.

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