Moments of raw weakness come to everyone – those moments when you feel completely helpless and as if your life is over.

One of the greatest struggles we all face is answering the question: “How can I find a way through this darkness?”

Fear is an escape program, but what if there is no escape? Then it is torture.

Related: 4 words that helped me through my darkest days

For me, this moment happened just a few days ago: when I discovered that while I was busy transitioning to a wealthier, more “retired” lifestyle, I had an aggressive tumor in my eye, and I had to suffer from this tumor. The eye has been removed.

It sounds easy when I say it that way and see it in print. I feel like a sane adult. But that’s not how I feel when I wake up at 5 a.m., my insides churning. Then I drown in a sea of ​​pain.

My remaining eyes are working but not that great. This makes me fear that one day I will become blind. I also fear that after all this, the tumor will spread to another place.

So, I’m a little boy of about 4 years old curled up in the fetal position. My adult mind says, “Oh, this must be the so-called ‘dark night of the soul.’ This is ‘suffering.’ I strive to gain some perspective, to find a place to stand, but I can’t find any solid ground.

What do we humans do in uncertainties like this?

We pray – even those of us who don’t believe in God or at least in a God who listens to us.

Related: 9 Ways Serenity Prayer Helps You Accept the Things You Can’t Change

I remember reading about attachment and religion. (I seem to always be reading or writing about attachment. It is my passion and life’s work to bring it into the field of therapy and to my audience.)

There are only so many ways to calm our nervous system. Prayer is ritual, an incantation, an extended repetition, as in chanting or reggae music. Rituals give us a sense of order and a sense of control. It gives us something to do, a choice. Repetition calms. It provides the brain with the ability to predict, just like nursery rhymes when someone shakes us, we hear the same sounds over and over again.

New meanings seem to emerge from the intense focus of the prayer and incantation as well. Sometimes, when I recite my personal incantation to a greater power, I hear a voice.

Yesterday he (the Holy Spirit, Goddess, or whatever) said, “The light is coming in your good eye too!” Strange, but comfortable.

The Journal of Behavioral Medicine in 2005 reported on a study where focusing on breathing in meditation was less calming than focusing on the word “love,” which was defined as a more spiritual mediation.


RELATED: A Powerful Calming Meditation You Already Know How to Do

Movement Can Calm Us Singing and moving in rhythm seem to calm our amygdala and offer us the promise of emotional grounding.

When I was a kid, I would bounce up and down on my garden swing and sing simple songs over and over. These days, my exercise bike sometimes takes me off my dark path, and I suddenly find myself singing ABBA songs at the top of my lungs.

Stories can calm us down, especially those that reflect our dilemmas, showing them as universal and able to confront them with grace or humor or a kind of self-confidence.

A friend told me that Johnny Depp only has one eye! Now why should that comfort me? But she did. If he can do that, then…

Ah, that’s one key!

The feeling that you can handle this demon, this darkness, is the feeling of competence that helps you.

Related: 5 Crucial Ways to Heal from Emotional Trauma

But most of the morning I felt anything but incompetent. I lost my glasses, called the same appointment twice, and forgot my best friend’s email. Confused brain.

For me as a researcher and connection theorist, all of these themes relate to and reflect the absolutely essential biological survival code: being with another, present and loving person.

To rock in the arms of the one you love, to feel a loving hand on your face, to hear a soft voice telling you that you are precious and you are not alone…

This is what our nervous system craves. This takes us beyond fear and loss.

Perhaps this is what poets mean when they say: “Love is not everything.” It’s the only thing.”

I will be in the hospital soon and my loved ones may not be able to come in and hug me. So, like prayer, meditation, and dancing with my mind, I have to understand and perfect the image, write the story of that detention experience into my neurons, and then pull it out when I need it.

I invite you to remember a time when someone comforted you, hugged you, and made you feel precious. Go into that scene and make it felt. Remember which hand you placed on your face, exactly where it was placed, and how it warmed your skin. Breathe as you see and feel it. Listen to the words spoken to your small, fragile self and let them expand and resonate in your heart. Stay there as long as possible. This is the house. Belonging makes us strong.

It’s a cliche, but there’s only one way to truly face life’s demons: together.

Close to each other, holding each other tightly.

Related: 5 Secrets of People Who Always Come Back After Hard Times

Dr. Sue Johnson is the Director of the International Center of Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy. She is the author of several best-selling books, including Hold Me Tight, Seven Conversations for a Lifelong Love.

This article was originally published on Dr. Sue Johnson’s blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.

(Tags for translation) Fear

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