Analyse your situation and implement new strategies to be happier.
We live locked in our heads. During the day, we have to listen to that little voice that sometimes encourages us and other times just adds fuel to the fire. At night we are at the mercy of our dreams, something over which we have no control.
I already talked a little about our dream experience in the last entry. This week I want to focus more on what happens in our conscious mind while we are awake and how negative thoughts transform our reality into our worst nightmare.
Routines, tight schedules, commitments, and obligations do not always leave room to listen to the signals that the body sends us. We are loaded with ideas, we are filled with experiences that mark us - some are our own, others foreign - until one day we wake up and realise that we are always angry, dissatisfied, that anything upsets us, that any conversation, no matter how small, stays spinning in our head for days, weeks and even years.
Apathy has taken over you, everything that happens around you affects you. That job that filled you with so much joy now fills you with anxiety. You have stopped distinguishing between what really is, and what you think it is. You don't know who to trust or not. Surely you have also entered into a small identity crisis related to your age. Looping ideas occur more frequently and for no apparent reason, and everything that previously caused you concern and healthy curiosity now terrifies you. You even feel that you are slower in your reactions. Or maybe it's that now you think about everything more for a longer period of time. It's like being in a horror film where you've been buried alive and you can't get out of the hole you're in.
Even the king of hell sometimes feels trapped. Crowley in Supernatural
You feel alone, scared and with no way out.
No matter how many videos you watch, no matter how many things you read, no matter how many courses you take, no matter how many people guide you, you cannot get out of that vortex in your head that completely and inevitably absorbs you.
Day after day, the same patterns repeat themselves, and no matter how much you try to make things different, and even though you do everything possible to make it so, there comes a time when you wonder if it's too late for you.
Although the signs are clear, you continue to think that existential crises happen to others, not to you, and recognising that you may be facing depression would be to stigmatize that image of a strong, happy, forward-thinking person that characterises you so much.
But at the end of the day, others don't live in your head, others don't know you like you know yourself, and yet sometimes you are a total stranger even to your own experience of being you.
The most terrifying thing about all of this is that you are not the only person who is going through a rough patch of this magnitude in your life. Even those who smile the most are still going through a hell similar to yours, only you haven't realised it because, in public, they wear their smiling mask. Like you, they don't want to attract attention either. Like you, they just want to belong to that intoxicating normality and go unnoticed, to be accepted by society. And with each passing day, it becomes more difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So, what can we do? How can we break this vicious circle? How can we not feel even worse when all we receive from the outside are messages of positivity that right now make us feel even worse? Why doesn't anyone realise that to come to light again we have to learn to wander through hell first?
This is what I want to talk to you about here.
If you find yourself in a moment in your life in which you are mentally stuck in a situation from which you feel you cannot get out, no matter how much you want to, and everything is difficult for you, if you understand the theory but in practice, everything is a lot more difficult than it seems, and you sense that what you need is time to analyse, understand and accept your new reality, then you are in the right place.
This entry is an invitation to internal contemplation. It is an invitation to stop and analyse, for as long as it takes, what you think is happening to you. It is an invitation for you to learn to express in words what affects you, to identify what stops you and what drives you at the same time. It is a call to your emotional and mental stability through the spoken word if you use the support of a professional, but also through the written word if you prefer to complement your therapy with exercises that you can do alone.
So, let's talk about how to identify the elements that make up your own horror movie and how to take the first steps to get out of it.
WELCOME TO THE CRISIS OF THE HERO
Dean Winchester in the last episode of season 10 of Supernatural showing his frustration when he finds himself trapped under the effect of the mark of Cain.
Joseph Campbell, American mythologist, writer and professor, spoke about the hero's journey after having investigated a large set of stories that were part of the corpus of beliefs of the world's cultures, from the origins until his current time. What he noticed was that all mythologies had in common, what he called The Hero's Journey, a journey that according to him "is worth writing about". The main reason for this statement is the fact that the story of the hero/heroine focuses on that dedication of life in which he is committed to carrying out "something bigger than himself".
Campbell tells us that the hero/heroine performs two types of feats, the physical and the spiritual, and that these appear in a circular way since they form a constant coming and going.
When a trip ends, we are in peace for a while until the next trip begins, triggered by a new concern, or a change in our circumstances reignites a new need for search, thus restarting the process.
Just by thinking of our life as a journey, we realize that we go through different stages and with them come physical and psychological changes.
All changes, Campbell tells us, are transformation processes in which a part of us dies, and therefore this part must be left behind, giving way to the new self.
This is what Campbell explains to us in this small part of an interview.
If you're not familiarised with Joseph Campbell you could start by reading his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, a work that, to this day, continues to have relevance in many areas, not only for the development of scripts and literary works, but also in the psychological field.
As you can see, if you continue investigating, Joseph Campbell's work was greatly influenced by Carl G. Jung, it is even said that his thinking is totally Jungian. Something that is very clear in a series of videos that you can find on the channel dedicated to Joseph Campbell's Foundation.
But what happens when this process of transformation does not take place in the most balanced way? What happens when, for some reason, we find ourselves unable to move forward? What happens when we go into denial and do not accept this new part of our trip, or are we in a hurry to end it soon?
In these cases, and from my own experience, I think the best thing is to give yourself all the time you need to accept your new situation without judging yourself and letting yourself be carried away by the information that your unconscious communicates to you daily. Above all, write down everything that catches your attention during this process.
KNOWING THE ARCHETYPES
The archetypal consultant, international speaker and mythologist Kristina Dryza talks about the obsessions that today's world has with being happy, with always smiling, with always being well, and how this is not only not realistic at all but is also deeply harmful since, as she tells us, for the day to arrive the night has to come and for spring to come, winter has to happen first.
This is where our archetypal theory comes in and the importance of knowing which archetypes govern your soul in each part of the journey to be prepared for the next step.
Let us remember the importance that it had for our ancestors to give mythological explanations to the dynamics of the world in order to understand them and thus live with fewer uncertainties. In this same way, we can say that archetypes help us understand, in a profound way, the pattern that our psyche follows at different times in our lives.
The myth that would best exemplify our existential transitions, according to Kristina Dryza, in which we find ourselves ending one stage of our lives and seeing ourselves giving way to the next, is the journey of Persephone when she is kidnapped by Hades and taken to the underworld to make her his wife. And how, consequently, Demeter, Persephone's mother, in revenge for Zeus' betrayal, decides to leave her obligations on earth, breaking the natural cycle of the seasons, thus bringing winter permanently, and therefore negatively affecting the crops.
If you are interested in knowing more about this myth, read my article Following Persephone's breadcrumbs in my magazine You Are Gothic But You Don't Know It, her connection with the Great Mother from the Jungian lens and how this can resonate with your journey to navigate your own process in a balanced and conscious way.
Not only do I totally agree with Kristian Dryza, but I would even add that we live in a society in which we have to always be happy, and willing to help others, something that makes us honourable and socially admired.
But what happens when we need time - we don't always know how much - to heal our wounds and therefore the last thing we have is energy, strength and desire to help others? What happens when what we need is also what harms us?
This is the part where you need to put order in your head, not only logically, but also emotionally looking inward. Where do you come from and where are you going? And, above all, what tools do you have to navigate your transition?
Me, trying to keep away from me all those who surpass me
MY PERSONAL DRAMA
When my language school entered its second crisis during the 2017-2018 academic year, my husband and I decided that during the holiday break, we would have to make some drastic decisions to start the next course on the right foot.
On the 31st of July 2018, and about to go on holiday, my husband suffered a stroke that almost killed him.
Our lives stopped in more ways than one and a horror film began. Even today, and five years later, this event continues to affect us.
Although we were forced to continue with our academy as best we could, the regular visits to specialists and doctors, my husband's physical limitations in driving and making school collections, and the inflexible demands of some clients, began to take their toll on our minds. In fact, we were already carrying a burden accumulated over many years of which we were not fully aware.
What for many people was the flexibility to adapt to everyone, it was actually fear of losing clients and, therefore, of not having known how to set healthy limits in the past.
In January 2020 we announced that we were going to transition to the online world and, although we imagined we would lose some customers, we also thought that more would follow us. We couldn't have been more wrong.
Upon returning from the Christmas break, I was cornered in the reception of my academy by a group of parents, some bewildered and others very bad-tempered, applying unnecessary and extreme pressure, enough to raise my cortisol levels through the roof and provoke in me large doses of anxiety. As someone who hates arguments and confrontations, I just wanted to disappear. However, I stayed as calm as I could and handled the situation in the best way possible, giving all kinds of explanations and trying to create some empathy towards us, although not always in the most successful way.
After this moment, we were cornered in our centre, and without warning, a couple more times, but as much as our hearts broke with the whole thing, there was no turning back.
In March 2020 we were confined worldwide due to COVID-19 and we all had to go online, whether we wanted to or not. The die had been cast.
Our journey as entrepreneurs of a language school ended there, but the ripple effect of the tensions accumulated over the years, the uncertainty created by the transition, the regular loss of students who did not adapt to the online format and my burnout formed a new self full of doubts, fears and insecurities.
Although I have never stopped working and being in contact with students, the transition to another business model and another type of product is still very difficult.
Building something new, in a world like the online, requires large doses of positivity and energy, as well as a change in mentality. If we also add to this the fact that it is done on foundations damaged by a devastating experience, we find ourselves in a process of complex transition.
ANALYSING YOUR PROCESSES TO MOVE FORWARD HEALTHILY
It is very difficult to give advice to others when you find yourself peering into the abyss of what is beginning to be a new stage of your life.
However, there are certain activities and exercises that can help you make your transition in a more conscious way, and therefore feel that you are not totally lost, that everything has a meaning and a reason for being, and above all that you have some kind of control over your life.
Here are some of the actions and decisions that, personally, have worked well for me so far. Of course, these are just suggestions, which may or may not work for you, depending on the type of person you are and the moment you are going through.
Write a blog
Three months after my husband's stroke, and already at home, but with a business on the verge of bankruptcy, I only thought about how we would move forward financially.
One night when I was in my children's room waiting for them to fall asleep, fear, uncertainty and a strangulating anguish took hold of me in such a way that I had to pick up my cell phone and start writing. The situation had become an entity with a special aura and presence of its own. I could almost touch it with my hands.
That's how I started writing a series of Gothic Night Stories based on that entity, or feeling of death, that began to fill my blog.
It was clear to me that the only thing I could do, without needing my husband to help me, apart from teaching English, was to write. And although the path seemed complicated, at least I had to try, especially because it was the only activity into which I could also pour all my potential, and work on my traumas.
Connecting with new people
I used Social Media to start showing my work and to meet other people in the world of Gothic literature.
For me, Twitter was the most revealing, since I discovered the entire academic world dedicated to Gothic internationally, as well as writers and curious and interesting minds with whom to start conversations and create new projects.
In your case, it can help you to think about what moves you and interests you most at this moment and follow those people and entities that resonate with your personal moment.
I think it is very important to have a feeling of belonging to something that serves as a reference and to which we can return when we find ourselves lost since when we are feeling down or confused, we spend a lot of time alone in our heads.
Attend new events, face-to-face or online
Discovering that I could have access to online courses and seminars on Gothic Literature in all its shapes and colours, was one of the best ways to get in touch with that part of me that had not been infected by the bad memories of my experience as an English teacher.
In addition to not being alone in the world of Gothic Literature, I learned new things, since unfortunately we still do not have Gothic studies at a curricular level in Spain as we find for example in England or the United States, and I managed to connect with people related in a more personal way.
In your case, think about your hobby and try to attend events that may interest you. You will see how a small window of hope opens.
Take what people say with a pinch of salt
When we are lost, unable to see the light on the other side, is when we are also most vulnerable, so we can fall prey to people, courses or advice that are harmful to us.
First, get to know yourself better through the archetypes that govern you at the moment, know what type of personality you have through a test (I recommend starting with Myers & Briggs), this way you will discover your strengths and weaknesses. You can also write down your reactions to all the triggers in your daily life in a notebook, as this will help you access that part of your unconscious that is terrifying you.
Listen to everything that resonates with you, but don't feel obliged to follow everything at face value. Modify the map to follow according to your personality, both mental and physical health, and your family and economic situation.
When you feel that the messages and advice that others give you bother you, analyse why this is so, but do not force yourself to do something that does not resonate with you, excite you, or make you curious.
You can also grab your cat and travel to the other side to find answers, like Keanu Reeves in Constantine
When you feel trapped, think and analyse what is happening step by step and asking yourself some questions in the process.
Hero/heroine crises are necessary to move forward in each stage of your life.
Knowing the archetypes can help you better understand the current structure of your psyche.
Building a new business on top of previous trauma is difficult but it takes you on a journey of invaluable self-discovery.
Analyse your processes and investigate your deepest concerns through different communication techniques, courses and relationships with others.
Thanks for reading!
See you in the next entry
Would you like to know more?
To work on this topic in more depth, download my exercise book The Crisis of the Hero/Heroine.
And finally, don't forget to purchase my digital monthly magazine, You Are Gothic But You Don't Know It for only €4.99.
The benefits obtained from subscriptions help me finance my research project Representations of the Archetype of the Great Mother in Gothic and Horror Productions through the Jungian lens to help people in their journey of self-recognition.