What To Do In The Face of Despair

Face of Despair

Can anyone hear my wail? Can I hear myself?

The utter hopelessness about everything in one’s life. To be without hope that an expected result will occur. Not even seeing a glimmer… To be despondent. It is an awful feeling, that of despair, one which blocks the sunlight of Spirit.

How does one get there to begin with? Perhaps, there are underlying feelings of worthlessness, shame. One cannot see any point in living; death seems preferable to continuing. That’s the type of despair I’m talking about.

What do you do in the face of despair? How can you deal with it? Recognizing it is the first step. Then, as difficult as it is, allow yourself to feel that emotion, to be with it. Drinking over it numbs the pain and delays the inevitable – that of looking at what is behind it. Is it a low self-worth? Have you been shamed in your life and, thus, feel lots of shame?

Counseling to assist with feelings of despair can be very useful, if one has a counselor familiar with these emotions and how to deal with them. Talking to a trusted friend, relative, or clergyman could be quite beneficial, as long as they are not the type to give advice and try to “fix” you. A person in despair doesn’t need fixing. They need a way to heal from the issues that brought up the despair in the first place. That is why trying to identify what has led to the despair is important.

Perhaps there is underlying depression or other brain chemistry issues that need to be treated medically, with medication. Again, a reputable and savvy therapist can refer to a physician for evaluation.

Many times, one deals with these feelings by drinking, numbing them. This only delays inner work that must be done. In sobriety, one will find the courage to look at these feelings. Shopping and over-eating are also distractions and an avoidance of looking at the despair, and although a welcomed relief, these are simply other avoidance tactics. Distract yourself and then come back to look at the feeling.

If one does a self-inventory or appraisal, one may discover what is beneath the despair. Looking inside for the clues can be very fruitful. Once underlying issues are identified, one can turn to Spirit and ask for help with these beliefs about one’s self, one’s conditions, and/or talk to a therapist, trusted friend or clergyman.

Finding one thing in your life for which you can be grateful is another step you can take. This is extremely difficult, but when done, allows you to focus on something positive. Then, it becomes easier to find others things for which to be grateful. This attitude helps dispel the despair.

But the key lies in willingness to look at the feeling and the feelings and beliefs behind the despair.  To honestly look at oneself and be with what one finds… that is the beginning of what to do in the face of despair.