I’ve been musing recently on how many of us have experienced some kind of loss over this past year, be it a seeming loss of freedom due to the nearly year-long isolation necessitated by the COVID19 pandemic or the COVID19-related passing of someone close to us. Along with all of that, we’ve had to deal with the reality of a new president and the impacts of a very divided nation, one that so clearly demonstrates how we can all look at something and see a very different picture. All of which can impact and color how we even see things from the past…our memories.
This can be particularly true if we are dealing with our grief over the loss of a spouse, a partner, or a lifestyle, something many of us experience during our senior years when our finances can change dramatically, forcing us to down-size and do with less. We all can look back at times that bring a smile to our faces or a feeling of pride for the accomplishments during our working years. Or maybe we feel a flush come on when we re-experience those beautiful, intimate moments of rapture in the arms of someone we loved very deeply. Or the feeling may be more about a very deep, soul connection with a friend who is no longer with us, someone with whom we felt safe enough to “just be ourselves” and we don’t seem to have such a person in our lives right now.
That’s what I intend to speak to in this blog, which I’ve titled “Do Your Sweetest Memories Have Two Faces?”
I pose the question because there have been times in my life when I am needing to bring to mind those special memories, such as the ones I just mentioned, and when I am centered and my heart space is open, the memories are truly sweet and I experience so much gratitude, a sense of having been once again blessed by the memory as it surfaces in my mind. Yet the moment I look at the same memory and find myself focusing on the seeming reality of my no longer having that person or circumstance in my life today, I slip into comparing the past with the present. Now I feel myself slump a bit. My body sags and I feel depressed. When I was less aware of how to move out of such a state of mind, I could carry that perception of life around for weeks, not wanting to do any of the things that previously had enabled me to have a purpose for living.
So, how is it that this can happen? Why is it something so wonderful as these favorite memories can so quickly fade from view and be replaced by something its polar opposite? The answer is pretty simple: We’re spiritual beings experiencing our human being-ness; for it is only human to feel disappointed, to feel powerless to avoid becoming a victim of our own shadow beliefs, although we may not necessarily take ownership for the shift, since the old pattern of looking to our outer world for an answer and mirroring our internal self-judgment back into the outer world and finding the enemy “out there” takes over and once again is in control of our life.
More important than seeing why and how this kind of shift can happen is in knowing what we can do about the situation in order to turn things around. Here are some suggestions, several of which come straight out of a Zoom class being offered by two of the Licensed Unity Teachers who teach at the Unity Spiritual Center my wife and I claim as our spiritual home:
1. Pray about it; remember we each ARE a unique expression of God and in order to receive God’s divine guidance and access to all that we shall ever need, we must spend time in The Silence and listen with our inner ear.
2. Be kind to yourself when we find ourselves in a funk, feeling down and depressed or angry or sad; allow yourself to both feel the real core feelings and express them rather than bottling them up; this is where a good friend, one that is good at listening, can be a godsend.
3. Allow yourself time to experience and move through the feelings and don’t be too quick to jump into trying to help someone else because it may offer you a temporary “fix” where you are able to block out or avoid the “stuff” going on within you, but it is only temporary.
4. Reach out to someone you trust, whether that be a close friend or a professional (therapist, minister or priest) or a prayer chaplain.
5. Draw upon the best that is within you by making a positive self-inventory.
And then there is this old stand-by reminder: “This too shall pass!” While it may sound trite, it is true. What may seem almost unbearable today will find you at some point in the future shaking your heads and saying “Silly me! There I go again!”
Love & Light, Steven