In times of darkness, stay on your path.

I wrote the first version of this piece after the November 2015 Paris attacks. Today, yet again, as all too often of late, we’re trying to process our feelings of shock, grief, and fear after the tragedy in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Horror can sap our souls

When we’re confronted with dark events, dark forces, with terrible, even horrific experiences and images, it’s natural and human to be blindsided. We don’t ever quite become numb to it. And it’s easy to fixate. To lose focus. To lose energy and heart.

Of course this is particularly injurious in dark moments. We can lose the vision of our way forward. We can lose the energy for anything. Our peace of mind, even our belief systems, shattered. Again.

Challenge as solace

In the thick of times of trial, consider that your shattered focus is, yes, still, a gift you don’t have to wait for. The challenge is the way forward. As one great leader famously said during a dark time in human history:

If you’re going through hell, keep going.
—Sir Winston Churchill

This guidance to forge ahead is right on in the fires of fear, pain, and the loss of simple human happiness. Loss of confidence in the next day or week or season for ourselves and our fellow humans.

Today I’m feeling an even more specific spin on this important counsel. It’s something like double down on what matters most to you. Despite anything or everything. Stay focused, or re-focus, or begin to focus, on your highest priorities. Live your values. What you find most meaningful and beautiful.

Walk. Your. Path.

It’s a discipline. Perhaps the ultimate discipline. Maybe challenging enough that you can’t fixate on what would further darken your door and sap your body, mind, and spirit.

Another important wisdom-keeper says it this way:

Do not let the behavior of another destroy your inner peace.
—the Dalai Lama

Be as informed and present to world events as you feel is sustainable for you. Be active in creating change in ways that speak to you. Practice compassion, including self-compassion, and real self-care. And continue jamming on your goals. Then you’re part of the light that humanity needs in order to keep evolving at a critical moment.

Proceed.

Do your good work. Walk your path. And reach out for support that you need. In short, proceed, dear ones. Proceed.

 

Teresa Young coaches by phone, in person, and via Skype outside the U.S.