Finding Comfort in the Highs and Lows
We all know that life comes with highs and lows, but how often do we actually think about the reasons for why that is? How often do we see the value in both the highs and lows? I would like to look at how we can take all the different experiences of our lives and see the value in them. Maybe even find some comfort in them. Instead of always believing that value comes from the highs, let’s look at where we can find value in the lows as well. Better yet, let’s look at where we can find balance between the two.
I have suffered lows in my life, as have we all, that I felt I would never be able to move passed. Heart ache, loss, financial strain, and more. This is a normal part of life. While we are in it, it feels insurmountable. It feels like our world is being destroyed. But, those lows are always followed by highs and they always come with lessons. Let’s jump in and take a look at what some of those lessons and, and hopefully gain some insight and perspective on why life is so full of these tricky highs and lows!
The Highs feel even Higher after the Lows
In some ways reflecting on the highs feels like it trivialises the lows. Kind of a ‘get over it’ or ‘deal with it’ attitude, and that is not at all what I am getting at. What I want us to know and understand with the highs and lows of life is that there will always be a light. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to a clenched fist, suddenly released, or a pressure cooker after the steam is released. Notice the word released because that is exactly what it is. After the lows we experience release, and relief. Imagine that feeling for a moment and see how it can only be experienced after the experience that caused the tension or pressure in the first place.
When we can learn to understand and value the flow of life we can also learn to accept it. Why do we fight against the bad days so much? I know they are difficult, but if we see them as the drop on the rollercoaster ride, knowing there will be a rise to follow, we will fight against it so much less, which in turn will make it easier to get through. Acceptance of what is gives us the mental and emotional capacity to handle it all. Being able to look at life’s challenges and say ‘I am greater than my highs and lows. This will not define me’. We muster the strength to push on through, and more often than not we surprise ourselves with how much strength we actually have.
The Lows Teach us the Value of Life
Ok, more on the lows. I don’t know about your experiences, and I certainly don’t expect that they will have been the same as mine, but I personally have never experienced a low that didn’t have a lesson to teach me. I have gained a lot of insight into myself through my lows and I have chosen to see them as part of my journey.
I will not stand here and diminish these experiences, I know that life can deal us cards that are beyond what words can describe, but I do know that we need to choose how we move through these experiences. If you choose to see your lows from this perspective, to take the lesson and run with it, you will be able to see the value. If you don’t, you will always struggle and life will feel harder than it needs to.
Empowering Ourselves through the Lows
If we start to believe that we gain strength in the difficult times we actually empower ourselves. We give ourselves the strength of character to build on our experiences. Do you think you could choose to see challenging times as empowering? To see them as an opportunity to step into your role as the: peacemaker, role model, moral support, or simply the shoulder to cry on that someone else might need.
Did you ever consider that the strength that you have gained through your own highs and lows could very well serve someone else during their time of need? Try to see the purpose in it all, the perfect design of each experience whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Loosen the Grip on Control
With the highs and the lows comes the realization that we need to learn to let go. This has been one of my personal favourite lessons in life. Makes sense, though, because letting go is releasing, surrendering or relaxing the grip. It is ease and peace of mind. Once the lesson is learnt that is. While it is being learned it doesn’t feel easeful at all. This is the low part.
But, experience that release for the first time and you will wish to live with such ease more and more. You will try to be more accepting of life and show a little faith every now and then. Overcoming the need to control our lives is a real step into trust. Not easy, but ultimately so very freeing!
We are All Connected
I believe that the highs and lows of life contribute massively towards helping us see that we are all connected. We are not these separate beings that we think we are. In life’s tough times this becomes exceedingly clear to us. War, famine, flood. Family crisis, illness or any other kind of distress. You name it. When we are at our lowest we forget all our differences and we see each other only as the same. We see the human. The mother, child, sister or brother. We jump in and do what we have to, what we are called to, to assist each other.
To me this is the point where we remember we are all of the same source. Ultimately, we are all kin. And that, despite the lows, is beautiful. Reflect on this for a moment. Remember that we are just one big, human family. When I think about how the difficult times brings us together as the family we are I find that to be quite beautiful. It is a stripping away of judgment and conflict and stepping into love. That is what life is all about, and sometimes it is only the lows that get us to that place.
Building on those Connections
Next, we build on our connections. We recognize the support we receive from those around us when the proverbial s#*t hits the fan. No man is an island, or so they say, and we should stop thinking we need to go through the highs and lows of life on our own. Anyone who has been through tough times knows that you need to be able to lean on someone for support. Even if you were pushed to lean on someone when you didn’t want to.
With hindsight you will be able to see how vital it is to have those people in your life. And, from there, you can learn to appreciate them and the connection you have with them. Apply this same reflection on the highs where these friendships and connections come in. We have enjoyed some of our happiest moments with these special people we share a bond with. These connections are made through the highs and lows!
Can we truly know Ourselves without the Lows?
Think back to a time in your life where you suffered disappointment, heartbreak etc. These are the times that shaped you. They are the times where you could have crumbled but instead you stood strong. Never forget that those times where you felt like a shadow of yourself were only part of your story. The most important part this the part where you walked back out into the light. Where you got up off the floor where you had been lying, crumpled and hopeless. These times, when you have shown true strength of character, are the ones that shape you.
Accept, even Embrace the Lows
I want to remind you that the lows are normal, and even necessary, in life. And that you don’t need to treat the lows in your life like an uninvited guest that leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. I don’t expect you to throw your arms open and welcome low, uncomfortable times. But, it is okay to work through them with compassion. It is okay to accept them and know they have their role to play in your life too.
So, when I say embrace the lows what I mean is embrace the growth through the lows. Steady yourself against the rolling waves and soon enough the seas will be calm once again.
What about the Highs?
The greatest lesson we can take from the highs is to have a little faith. The good times remind us that there will always be sunshine after the rain. They remind us that although sometimes life feels too much, good times are never far away. Have you ever applied for a job, thinking it was your dream job, only to be disappointed? Either you didn’t get the job or you did but it wasn’t what you expected. Or, fallen head over heels for someone and it just didn’t work out? These situations cause a lot of sadness but there is almost always a reason why it didn’t work out.
This is about trusting that your plan might be a little different to the one that the universe or God has for you, and to trust. I have found that what we need to learn to do is to give up our resistance to the greater plan for our lives. We tend to push so hard for an ideal that we have in our minds, never once considering whether there is an even better and bigger plan that just isn’t taking the same route that we expected it to. Have faith that everything will work out in the end!
My Own Experience
Like all of us I’ve had highs and lows throughout my life. I’ve found myself as a young adult calling home from another country asking for money because I was down to my last handful of pennies in the UK. I’ve found myself praying for a sick child and I’ve found myself without a job like so many of us during the pandemic. But, here’s the thing. There is a pattern in all of these situations in my life. I have: found my support, found my strength, found my faith and in the case of the last one, found my way back to myself. These are lessons I am happy to take away from all of these experiences in my life and I am 100% certain that you can find the same in your life.
There is a lot to be said for getting older and this is one of them, you gain experience and wisdom. They say that words don’t teach, life teaches. And, although I sit here writing this, I do agree! I write from my experience in the hope that it will help others to think about their own life experience but ultimately you need to be able to be open to learning from everything that you go through. No one can do it for you. But you! You can!