In ancient Greek mythology, Persephone was kidnapped and held captive in Hades, the early Greek version of hell. She was eventually rescued, but only on the condition she would take the King of Hades who bore the same name as her husband, and agree to live part of the year in the Underworld. Each year Persephone would escape to sunshine and life, only to be cast back into the depths of Hades in order to fulfill her agreement.
Life is very much like the cycles of Persephone’s life. We experience periods of great joy and fulfillment, only to suffer a loss and be cast into the depths of hell. The important thing to remember is that the human spirit is resilient and strong, and when it appears that all hope has vanished, there really is a light shining at the end of the tunnel. All you have to do is open your eyes to it, and you will emerge stronger and wiser.
1. Everyone has Visited the Darkness
Think back to the most difficult time in your life. Remember that you are not alone in your experience, and everyone walking this planet has endured their darkest days. Most likely, something was learned from the experience, even if only the knowledge that you are strong in mind and spirit. Life gives us trials in order to teach us lessons we cannot learn otherwise. We are also given no cross to bear that is too great for us to handle, even if it seems so at the time.
The periods of darkness are vital in our lives, to allow us to truly enjoy and appreciate the sunny days. If life was perfect all of the time, we would have no regard for the happy times. It would make special occasions with friends and family so much less joyous because there would be nothing to contrast and compare them to. It is also the potential for loss that makes our special relationships so much sweeter.
2. A Mistake is not the End of the World
Remember, to err is human. Everyone makes mistakes, and there are very few that cannot be resolved. In the overall scheme of your life, a few errors here and there will most likely not change your entire course.
Think about mistakes that you have made and how they were handled, especially when you were a child. Or consider a mistake that was made recently. How was it handled? Were you punished? Do you now behave a particular way because of the outcome of your mistake?
What is your greatest fear related to making a mistake? Do you fear ridicule, punishment, or loss of credibility? Do you worry about retaining your job?
Many times people become frozen in time and fear taking action or making decisions because they fear making a mistake. Imagine the worst mistake you could possibly make, and then imagine doing it right now. Then try to imagine the outcome. What would you learn from it? How would your behavior change?
Run through various role play scenarios in your mind and use the powerful fear of making a mistake as an example from which to develop your own self growth. You do not need to actually make a mistake in order to learn from one – you can “what if” several scenarios in your mind or you can learn from other people.
3. Overcoming Criticism
Just as it is inevitable that you will make mistakes in life, it is also a given that you will be criticized by someone, somewhere. It may be in school, in sports, or in your place of employment, but you will never be able to make everybody happy, all of the time. At some point your actions, ideas, or decisions will offend someone.
Remember that criticism is not the end of the world. Just as you can learn from mistakes, take criticism as a learning opportunity as well. Perhaps the complainant will cast the issue in a different light than what you may have previously thought, allowing you to gain a new perspective you otherwise may never have seen. Then again, some people just like to complain. Use your best judgment, take the complaint under consideration, make your best decision, and move on.
No matter how hard we try to do the right thing, to make the right choices, and to protect others, we will be cast into the darkness from time to time. Down the road you will be able to look back on each instance of sadness or struggle and see that you emerged stronger, smarter, and more capable. These things all happen for reasons unknown to us at the time, and they play a vital role in the people we develop into as we continue down the pathway of life and through the land of perpetual self growth.
Thanks to Musings of a Thoughtful Conservative for including this post in A Waukesha Carnival, and to Widow’s Quest for their continued support, for featuring this post in the Carnival of Positive Thinking, and to The Tall Poppy for publishing this post in the Living a Real Life Carnival.