How to Cope with the Dark Side of Transformation
‘UpGrading’ or transformation is the creation of something new or better, it is the accomplishment of a new goal, the improvement of a situation or state of being, or the actualization of an idea or vision – and it is not a one-time thing.
Transformation isn’t something we do once per year, at the weekends or in the evenings, it is not something outside of our mind, body or soul.
It is right here inside of us, prevalent in everything we do, speak or perceive.
In fact, for anything of quality or substance to transform on the outside, it must first have actualized on the inside – the outside world is a reflection of our internal world, our minds, emotions, heart and soul. Once you awaken to a new and different way of seeing, experiencing and living life or exclaim that you want more or better, you cannot revert to old ways; it just isn’t possible.
It is like trying to force a Champaign cork back into the bottle once it has been opened.
I know from experience that there are times when we cry out, begging for some respite from the momentum, demands and emotional intensity that can come with fast paced change. I have lost track of the number of times I myself have endured yet another dark night of the soul or have stated ‘this is BS’ - and also the number of sessions I have listened to client’s ask me ‘what the heck is wrong with me, when will this get easier?’
While this is not the only side of transformation, and I would never want you to expect to experience discomfort all of the time, it is a very real element of the process and I prefer to tell you the truth than have you stumble one too many times – right the way into ‘I quit land’, or ever worse, the doctor’s office. It is the act of resisting reality, doubting, questioning and grappling with the new and higher versions of ourselves, life and everything that we are on the verge of welcoming, that can cause us much suffering. It is also the denial and belittling of our own inner desires, preferences and passions that can play havoc with our own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
For anything to transform there must first be a death like ending of the old that has been in existence, and a birthing of the new and fresh version or edition.
When we look at the real-life forms of these two human occurrences, death and birth, within both there is pain, sorrow, fear and joy – both endings and beginnings bring equal levels of intensity. In transformation, there is no distinct start or finish point, instead it calls for an ongoing integration of all of you.
The tough news is, there is no chance to get off the treadmill of change, you don’t have jurisdiction enough to press pause or change your mind, there is a bigger and more benevolent force at play. Once you are in the process of UpGrading, there is no claiming ‘I’m out’, there’s no going back – this can be challenging to the point of debilitation at times.
Being on a path of ascension, awakening, transformation or creating lasting and authentic success, freedom and happiness; in our lives can bring about symptoms, mental difficulties and emotional states that are way too often confused and misconstrued, and quickly labelled and medicated.
There really are times when this whole UpGrading shebang can challenge us to our very core, bring us to our knees and have us screaming ‘no more’ as if pleading with our captor or torturer. It can feel relentless, it can seem as though there is no respite, so it is no wonder we get confused at times – but with a few different approaches and a new set of perspectives, you will always have a light with you to navigate those extra dark moments, even if they do seem to challenge you to the depths of your soul.
The first step is to keep calm and remind yourself that this is another layer being peeled back. Even though you may be feeling low, sad, afraid or desperate and perhaps reliving past pains – which really can suck, it is going to pass.
Anxiety, a depressive mood or PTSD can often flare up with the releasing and clearing of another wave of stale energy and patterns, by engaging in activities that challenge your paradigms, or a full mind, body soul UpGrade which can be triggered by things such as a full moon, a deep tissue massage, watching a particular movie or documentary - even a conversation with someone.
Having this information can help us to remain in harmony with the process and accept it as yet another chance to flow with our transformation rather than stunt it by engaging in purely fear based activities such as getting caught up in pessimistic or negative conversations.
It helps to try to observe yourself and the situation from a new perspective and employ activities such as pranayama (yogic breathing exercises) or mindfulness, which is the conscious observation and recalibration of the mind and it turn the emotions.
If you can catch yourself before spiraling into a toxic state. Check in with yourself and practice self-awareness regularly, with time you can be more on the ball with regards to any fears or worries that might come up around not being able to pull yourself out of this darkness and wavering in your stability and progress.
Instead work with the opportunity to process something that is coming up, it’ll help you to actually flow through it quicker than if you try to avoid it.
With awareness, you’ll be able to play an active role to assist yourself in birthing the next mini UpGrade.
Whether it’s releasing resentment towards an ex, healing mother or father wounds, grieving the loss of a loved one or overcoming a business or financial loss, these moments provide such fertile ground for you to ride the wave of transformation if approached with a willingness to go within.
When we are present and aware, we can begin to approach things in a new more conscious manner and avoid falling face first into drama or drowning in our own pity pool.
It is all too easy to point the finger at someone or something else when we are feeling challenged or emotionally pained – none of us really have to look very far before we find a good scape goat or excuse, right?! This is neither the time or the place for blame though – in fact it will set you back hugely, and the same applies to shaming, judging or blaming yourself too.
The biggest gift you can give to yourself is to stare the wound, pattern, fear or doubt directly in the eyes without judgement, and allow the fullness of it in to your emotional body, without manipulating or distorting it to make it more manageable to cope with. If it’s fear, let the fear be. If it’s sadness, let yourself feel sad, the same goes for anger or any other emotion.
Then tell yourself the truth, that you had the power all along, and that this is a chance to choose differently and apply your attention, choices and energy in a more appropriate direction.
It is helpful to train ourselves to see beyond the illusion of what we see on the surface
And by assimilating the deeper meanings of each moment, each occurrence or conversation, we can begin to re-empower ourselves with the spiritual truth as a pose to being only embroiled in what we are experiencing or perceiving with our five senses.
It’s Not the End
You may at times feel as though life is too much to bare, and that it would be easier to not live anymore, please speak to someone immediately if this is the case, but if it persists say on a monthly or cyclical basis, maybe around a full moon, new moon or specific heightened astrological times, it is very useful to remind yourself that it is a symptom of transformation and rebirth.
A few things can contribute to this extreme state of wanting out. When you’ve experienced the bliss states of meditation and also had clarity of how unnecessarily complicated, chaotic and negative the world can be - handing back this meat suit of yours in favor of your soft, fluffy spirit suit can seem way more appealing.
When you have touched the other side and felt your limitlessness, true unconditional love and purity, being human and feeling everything in such intensity can seem way too excessive.
I strongly advocate activities that help you to ground and embody all aspects of you, such as time in nature, gentle physical movement, good food and physical pleasure. Feeling pleasure in your body, is a wonderful way to bring enjoyment back into your mind and body and help you back in loving life with more gusto and joy. Regular spiritual practices are highly important but let’s not forget our humanness and our animalistic nature too. As always, trust your intuition and let your heart guide you.
Feel It Don’t Fight It
Powering through, skipping over it, rising above it or getting on with it, are all approaches that will trip you up with a bang eventually. I speak from massive experience – and tripping up can hurt more than the cause of the issue in the first place.
If we were to see this as a ‘test’, (work with me) to get that A+, you will have to fall into a heap on the bed, ugly cry, in fact sob out loud, shudder, shake and feel the feeling in every bone in your body. I will say this, it does take a huge amount of courage to stand bang in the center of your discomfort and allow yourself to be engulfed in it, and a lot of getting used to too.
In the west it is seen as a sign of weakness to cry.
Whereas in some tribes and cultures it is a revered skill and is taught to all people from a young age, so be patient and uber kind to yourself as you build up to and grow into this. In my book ‘I Am UpGrading’, there is a segment entitled ‘bowing down gracefully’ – and it speaks about the power of creating a safe and loving healing environment, and of giving ourselves full permission to crumble, feel and heal.
Activities such as meditation, journaling and sleep can support our processing and since so much of our UpGrading happens in the body, it can be highly supportive to partake in heart opening yoga asanas, body work, deep tissue or Ayurvedic massage, or any kind of water therapy. Finally, you have done nothing wrong and you are definitely not failing if you don’t feel amazing all the time.
Get used to feeling off without feeling bad or guilty about not being on form!
Keep telling yourself you are not broken, you are transforming. Our world is full of polarities, contradictions, opposites and extremes. None of it is cause for panic. Learn to love and respect the dark times just as much as you revel in the light, easy and happy ones. Learn to adore your shadow as much as your light. Practice working with your higher guidance and become your own guru – leading, loving and guiding yourself through this colorful, ugly, awe inspiring, debilitating, confusing, expansive, amazing, exciting, love filled UpGrade journey. And remember, it is always ok to ask for support and help.