Have you ever found yourself in hidden places whereby you became unnoticed? Have you felt like you were walking in the darkness because the lights were dimmed and no one could see you? I would guess most of us do at least one time or another in our lives. Some people may not notice because they are numbing their feelings and emotions through various means such as avoidant behaviors, drugs, sex, or alcohol. Or they simply lack emotional connectedness and insight.
The invisible seasons I am talking about have nothing to do with feeling ignored at a gathering. For example, you have attended several social gatherings such as parties, and your friends seem to ignore you, or they do not pay attention to what you have to say. I am talking about something more profound than that because the former can be fixed by self-examination (behavior, attitude, style of conversation, etc.). You can also approach your friends asking for feedback with an open mind. The invisible seasons I am referring to are seasons or situations or circumstances beyond your control.
During these seasons you may feel like you are moving forward or taking steps, yet when you look behind you, the steps are invisible and you find yourself in the same spot. You wonder why you are still here. How can it be? You second guess yourself, thinking ‘I might not have been taking meaningful steps that is why.’ But something inside you says different. Now you wonder what to believe. For example, during college, I had the perfect required GPA for a particular scholarship opportunity, but I got passed over the first semester, and I felt like I really deserved because I worked hard. The next semester I got it, and it seemed like it was the right season. It was hard not to dwell on negative thoughts.
Negative thoughts can affect your feeling and in turn, your actions/behavior (even your self-esteem), especially if your core beliefs (belief about self, others, and the world – which affect how you see and interprets life events) or schemas tend to be more on the negative side. This can be due to early childhood experiences, social, biological, or economic factors which can affect your biopsychosocial development. Your cognitions, emotions, and behavior frequently affect each other. According to Beck, this is normal, what a person thinks about (cognition) affects how he/she feels (emotions) and how he/she acts (behavior) (Persons, 2012, p. 20). Some examples of negative cognitions or automatic thoughts could be viewing yourself as Incompetent (others play the game of life better than you). Blaming self or worthless (there is no reason people should be proud of you), indifferent (I do not measure up to my siblings, peers, etc), others have negative thoughts about you, (no one loves you), or untrustworthy (No one trusts you). In the worst situations, you may even think that life is meaningless (I am “just waiting it out”). If you find yourself in this situation, seek help immediately because it can lead to suicidal thoughts (such as – I should end it all).
Step out of yourself and take a moment to remember that growth still happens in the darkest places. A seed has to buried and die too before it germinates and starts to grow and reproduce. It does not always feel good when you are doing the right thing, and the right things are not happening to you don’t get the right result or meet the right expectation. Working against negative thoughts and feelings is easier said than done, which is why you have to step aside and assume the role of advising a friend in need. What would you tell your friend to do given the same situation? We usually give our best advice when others are involved and not us. Using the same principle can help you in the darkest moments in your life when no one seems to notice or pay attention.
Food For Thought
Ø So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9
Ø Minimize the complaining and focus on gratitude – count your blessings
Ø Positive Attitude – Maintaining a positive outlook about life not only yields good results at the end but draws people to you
Ø No resurrection without dying first – dying to self to become the best version of you is worth the efforts and the time
- Change your thoughts; then your feelings change (it is not automatic but a process) lastly, your actions or behavior change too.
Persons, J. B. (2012). The Case Formulation Approach to Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. New York: Guilford Press.
Beck, Judith S. Cognitive Behavior Therapy Basics and Beyond. The Guilford Press, 2011.