5 Points to Remember When in Despair

Prasanth Aby Thomas
Published: October 2014

Even the most motivated and courageous people, those who exhibit a relentless energy and passion for what they do, have their moments of despair. So it would only be fair that the rest of us, who are normal human beings fraught with the daily predicaments, struggle to cope with those daunting low points in our life that throw us into despair and frustration.

But then, we all know that that such points of despair does us no good unless we are able to learn from them, use them as a springboard to bounce back to greater heights than we were before. For some people, this is easy, almost a natural part of their way of thinking. For others, this is a quality that needs to be acquired, but fortunately it is not too difficult if you can manage to keep the following points in mind:

1.       You are incomparable with others, because no one is quite like you

Quite often, a major reason for despair is that we compare ourselves to others. This would seem one of the most natural things to do in our culture, which encourages comparison from the early school life. Do you remember your school days? Most of us were at some points asked to learn from one of our classmates, who was better at studies. Sadly our teachers do not think beyond the superficial impact that these words can create on the children, despite the modern psychologists harping on against these practices that serve only to create inferiority complexes in young minds.

What you need to do then, is remember that you cannot compare yourself with anyone else, because no one else has gone through the same life experiences as you and no one else is made with the same constitution of physical and mental elements as you.  In other words, it would be fair to compare apples to apples, but not apples to oranges.

So whenever you feel that doom of despair clouding over you just because someone else is doing better than you, remember, you are unique, you need not focus on what the other person is doing. You need to find your own unique path, unique sets of goals and unique sense of happiness.

2.       Know where you are at present, and know its importance

There are people who feel frustrated because they always live in the future, not in the present. They are always worried about what is going to happen, not what is happening. They create intricate maps of the future they have not seen, cannot control and cannot foresee. Then they add countless opportunities of despair to this future that they have envisioned, and then start worrying about them.

Sounds familiar? At least to some of you. Living in the present is something that even the highest level of spiritual teachings have emphasized for thousands of years, but we still have trouble putting it into practice.

The next time you feel yourself slipping into the hole of despair, try to focus on what you are doing at the moment, leave out thoughts of what will happen in the future or what has happened in the past.

3.       Connect the dots later, not now

In life, it often happens that you won’t realize the significance of an event until later, when a lot of things have happened and each depend on the other. Often when we are in the middle of our busy life it is difficult to see the significance of something, but if you look back it would become clearer, why something happened and for what.

I love to use the allegory of a journey between stars in a constellation to explain this further. Suppose you were travelling from one star to another in a constellation, you wouldn’t be able to know the shape that those heavenly bodies have formed. But get out of your path of journey and have look from outside, you will see that you have been travelling in a predetermined pattern.

4.       Accept what you have, avoid resistance

Ambition is necessary in life, but this should not be at the cost of not appreciating what you already have. Many of us, while looking ahead and upward in life, forget what we already have. We forget the conveniences that have already been bestowed on us, the talents that we already have.

Despair looms when you think of what you cannot achieve, hence a natural way to avoid it is to be appreciative of what you have. I would connect this point to being grateful. Life coaches often stress that a sure-shot to happiness is making gratefulness a part of life. Be thankful for being alive every day, because this world does not owe it to you to keep you alive, you are but at the beneficence of this universe.

5.       Failure is not a desire denied, it is just a desire delayed

Despair and depression are quite often the result of a failure. Students who do not get expected grades in exams, employees who are denied the promotion, recognition or rise in salary, lovers who are denied their partner, all of them feel frustration.

What you need to remember here is that nothing is the end until you decide to end it. One might say, I failed the exam, I won’t have a chance to become what I want. But think again, is this exam the only way for you to become what you want? And more importantly, are you sure of what you want?

There is only one thing we can all we sure of – we all look for happiness. What we need to find out is what this happiness means to us. Failures might seem happiness denied, but in fact, life is just teaching you the nature of happiness that suits you. As I have mentioned before, we are all unique in every sense, and this means even the kind of happiness that is apt for us.