Your Struggle Does Not Define You: 2 Steps to Start Breaking Free

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” ~Nido Qubein

It’s difficult to remember the exact moment when things fell apart.

By now, so much time has passed that when I think back to that evening, the chain of events is clear up until everything stood still. I don’t remember how I slept after midnight or when he left.

Just the eerie glow of the flip phone in my darkened apartment as I ignored the calls after I sent the text. The text that set my whole life into forward motion after feeling stuck for years.

You’d think I would remember the text clearly, but instead I remember how my then-boyfriend rushed into the apartment, reeled when he saw I was safe, and then slid down the wall like a cartoon character, numb with tears.

I think I sent “I won’t be here tomorrow,” but I can’t be sure. I thought about the tequila that was above the refrigerator and the ibuprofen that was in the medicine cabinet. I did nothing with either.

It was the second time in my life that I was in such a low, but it was the first time in my life that I realized I had to get help. Because when I saw how much I was hurting someone else, I finally saw how much I was hurting myself.

I tell this story today and it doesn’t feel like it’s part of me anymore, even though it’s here on this page. After that evening, I drove myself to the doctor and got an antidepressant. Then I drove myself to my first yoga class.

And this was when things really started to get interesting.

I considered the possibility that I was not destined for depression my entire life just because it was in my genes.

In fact, I was not destined to be or do anything I didn’t want to be or do. I was not trapped, not insignificant, not worthless.

Turns out, our lowest lows reunite us with our resilience.

A lot of us equate bad days, depression, and whatever else we’re struggling with as roadblocks in our progress toward being a more mindful, happy person.

Feeling down is not the same thing as moving backward. Depression isn’t regression. Your dis-ease is key to your transformation.

This is for you on those off-days, those disaster days, those days when you’d rather pull up the covers for no reason at all. This is your two-step process for easing your way into a life that is worth living again.

1. Identify that you are struggling (with depression or <insert your pain here>).

You’ve probably heard the first step in the twelve-step program before, proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous: admitting that you can’t control your addiction.

In this first step, however, it’s all about identifying with your pain without giving up your power to change it. In fact, you’re now fully stepping into your power because you’re present with your problem instead of remaining a victim.

Hi, hello—yes, I see you there. I feel you and I see you. Now, let’s get on together with this, shall we?

2. Stop identifying with your struggle.

This is the most important thing to remember, always: You are not whatever you said you were in step 1. As an example, here’s how I recovered, day by day for two years after I sent the text.

Every time I felt a spark of hopelessness, I told myself: You are not your depression.

You may be or have been depressed, but depression is not who you are. That’s difficult to understand, especially when you’re consumed and it feels like there’s no other possible way to feel. Like all the feels have evaporated quicker than sweat on a 100-degree day.

Until I started taking a yoga class once a week, I didn’t think twice about rethinking who I was at my core. But when you’re laser-focused on bending your body into yoga poses with proper alignment, you have little time to ruminate on what’s happening in your head.

And so it dawned on me that depression is a temporary experience, just like taking a yoga class. If I could get out of my depressed mind for an hour, I had the potential to get out of my depressed mind all the time.

You do, too, no matter what’s causing you pain. The pain is the starting point.

The rest is up to you.

About Caren Baginski

Caren Baginski is a Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Yoga Therapist-In-Training and the creator of Being Enough. She helps sensitive, high-achieving women overcome critical thoughts and emotional overwhelm so they can develop deeper connections with their authentic self and others. Learn more at CarenBaginski.com and practice with her on YouTube.

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