It Feels Like All Is Lost

This blog post first appeared over at - you can read more about Allison there! 

Sometimes I feel like all is lost, but really I just need to take a shower.

Do you know what I mean? There are days (especially during seasons where I work from home) when I’m working along just great, sitting at the kitchen table, nose buried in my computer, sipping a cup of (by now lukewarm) coffee, when suddenly something shifts.

photo: Creative Commons, kizzzbeth 

My spirits get low, and my energy even lower, and all of these weird, depressive thoughts start to get to me. Thoughts like:

What are you even doing with your life?

You’re not making any progress. You’re just sitting around in your pajamas.

What did you actually accomplish today?

Did you even brush your teeth this morning?

Anyway, what’s totally weird about these thoughts is that they are so powerful and persuasive that, if this exact scenario hadn’t happened to me 100 times before, I would actually believe them. I know because I did believe them the first few dozen times. But now, I know exactly what to do.

I take a shower. And somehow, for some reason, that seems to clear things up.

I had a night kind of like this this past week.

I was getting ready for bed — digging through my giant tupperware container full of toiletries since I hadn’t had time to unpack them yet — when suddenly that familiar feeling of hopelessness and despair settled over me.

My husband saw the look on my face and asked what was wrong. All I could think to say was, “I can’t find my face wash!”

Right as I about burst into tears...

It’s ridiculous really, and when I sit down and think about it, that’s the way I see it too, but in the moment somehow it always seems too tragic and horrible to be ridiculous. I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one who feels this way.

But either way, It makes me think about two things.

First, it makes me think about how our life seems so much more dramatic while we’re living it.

Have you ever thought about that?

Have you ever thought about how a break-up, or losing a job, or moving away from a familiar city, or dealing with a conflict with a friend — all very difficult things — feel the most difficult and even “tragic” when we’re living through it?

Later, we can look back with objectivity and see that the things we learned, the ways we were taken care of, and even the unexpected blessings that came out of our circumstances trumped the difficulty we faced. But, in the moment, we have this strange tendency to blow things out of proportion.

We have this proclivity to be fatalistic and definitive about it.

Nothing will ever work out.

This always happens to me.

My life is falling apart.

This is the end of the world.

Second, it makes me think about how problems are often so much easier to solve than we think they are.

Sometimes we give problems way too much credit. Don’t you think? Sometimes I think we even avoid doing something we’ve always wanted to do because, before we even start, we’ve pre-imagined all the problems that might come up in the process.

Don’t you think this is giving your problems too much credit?

What if those problems never happened? Where did we get the idea they would?

Other times I think we are facing a real problem, right in front of us — a lack of resources or finances, a an unexpected loss, a situation where we’ve gotten ourselves in over our head — but instead of looking for solutions to the problem, we assume there aren’t any. This must mean we’re going in the wrong direction, we tell ourselves.

So we walk away and give up.

But what if sometimes, our problems are really simple?

What if sometimes what we need isn’t an elaborate strategy to overcome an obstacle, but just a break? [tweet that]

What if we need is just a shower, a hot meal, a conversation with a friend, ten minutes of down-time to give us new perspective?

What if it’s just that easy?

What if it feels like the end of the world, but really we just need to take a shower?