My favorite definition of encouragement is: to inspire with courage, spirit or hope.

Recently I went through what I can only describe as a “dark night of the soul,” where you experience something so painful, often rooted in your own deepest fears and self-doubt, triggered by something or someone outside of yourself. It was a pretty disparaging, I was basically berated and put down by someone, but the only reason I was so upset about any of it was because I was terrified that it might be true. I wanted to just give up. It was indeed, a dark place to be.

Thank goodness I have spent recent years saturating my life with positive truths, inspiring support, and generally good mojo. I knew that in that state, I needed to allow myself the space to feel, and yet hold on to whatever shred of hope I could find. I made the tiniest effort to question what I was perceiving as the truth. And I also allowed myself to be in that “emptiness,” that low place. It was hard. Painful. But gradually, I guided myself out of it. It is different in each case, but in this case it involved laying in bed having a really long good cry, then a really long cleansing shower, some time outside in the sun looking up to the sky for answers, appreciating nature and anything I could about my surroundings and circumstances, talking to people who I knew would hold a positive space for me even if I couldn’t see or believe in it yet, painting, painting, more painting, and well, time. It took about 2 days but I am back to ME. Back to truth. Back to spirit, back to love.

It used to last longer, these dark periods. With time, I’ve learned how to trust that it would be temporary, no matter how intense the emotions, no matter how real the despair felt.

It takes a lot of courage to face the world when you are in pain. Especially when it usually feels like its “the world” or something or someone outside of ourselves causing or triggering the pain. We want to hide away. And you know what, its okay to hide a little bit, but if you can hold on to ANY piece of hope that exists in your mind, your heart (the fact that the sky is still blue and you can still see it!), then you can gradually and gently guide yourself out of it. And its okay to ask for help. In fact, it is essential to ask for help.

The key to creating, is to allow these spaces within yourself. Allow yourself to be where you are. LOVE yourself where you are. No matter what anyone says or does to you, LOVE yourself. Tell yourself “hey, I know you are really hurting because it seems like you are alone, but I still love you and believe in you.”

Encourage yourself. Saturate your life with support, visually, technically, emotionally, spiritually, in your career, your family, your social network. Surround yourself with reminders of your truth. Your truth will feel right when you see/hear/feel it. You will just know.

I believe in you.

You are worth your own love and support.