I’ve noticed a lot of people seem to be feeling despair these days, and I’m wondering if you have noticed this too.
Strong political divisions. Climate crisis. War. The fear of extinction.
I read recently that despair-correlated deaths such as suicide, drug overdose, and alcohol-related deaths have risen to unprecedented levels, especially in young people.
Despair is a prevalent issue in our world today. Because we have access to social media and constant news updates, we are likely to feel helpless and hopeless about the state of the world.
So how can we use consciousness to soothe feelings of despair and the paralysis that comes with it?
A Conscious Way to Look at Despair
I find that keeping a broad spiritual perspective is a powerful way to deal with stress, fear, and despair.
This means acknowledging that everything we know will go away at some point. On a spiritual level, there is never truly a reason to despair. When we recognize the finiteness of everything on the physical plane—our material belongings, our bodies, the earth as we know it now—we know that it is all temporary.
This broader perspective also involves remembering that we have far less control than we think. Life has always been dicey. After all, we’re on a rock spinning around a giant ball of fire in space and we have no control over it whatsoever.
However, our human minds resist this. We like “knowing” what is going to happen, or at least feeling like we do because we like to feel that we’re in control. But the notion of control is largely an illusion.
We want to know that when our loved ones leave the house in the morning, they will come back later that day. We want to know that when we go out for the day, we will also come back. We want guarantees, but there are no guarantees in life, and no amount of wanting will change that.
We confuse wanting something with thinking it’s supposed to be that way. Consciousness is allowing ourselves to accept whatever shows up. This doesn’t mean liking it, it just means accepting that life will unfold however it unfolds.
If we go around in despair, then whatever time we do have here—whether that’s another million years or another decade, no one knows—is wasted in despair instead of consciousness.
Conquering Our Fear of Death
Moving out of despair and into consciousness means accepting that we will die someday, and so will everyone we know. This is a natural part of life and is neither good nor bad. It is simply a reality.
Scientists have said for years that the sun will explode millennia from now and that Earth will be engulfed in it and disappear. We tend to put this information in the back of our minds because it feels far in the future and that we won’t personally be impacted.
We don’t see this information as a threat to our own mortality. But news and events that directly impact us and the way we currently exist can be much more challenging to accept.
Our fear of death is at the root of all fear. The fear of death leads to so much denial, inaction, and paralysis.
But consciousness is not inviting death. Consciousness is knowing that we don’t die completely, because the energy and matter that we’re made of never goes away. It is simply recycled into something else, though we can’t be sure exactly what that is.
Of course, Ego doesn’t like that one bit. Ego is in the business of keeping Ego alive. We like the “I” form of ourselves. We like the “them” form of people we love.
We will die whenever we die. We’ll have challenges in our lives when they show up, not when we think they’ll show up. Once we can accept that, once we’re not afraid of death, we can sit with almost anything. To me, that’s so essential. Most people resist that tooth and nail.
If we can conquer our fear of death, we will then be free.
If we resist that truth, we spend so much time fearing death instead of living life. We grasp at safety and security rather than allowing ourselves to enjoy life or feel grateful for what we have.
Allowing ourselves to enjoy life
You might wonder how you can possibly enjoy life with all the pain, suffering, and disaster going on in the world, but fear and despair are often associated with paralysis and inaction. Inaction does not create change.
When you enjoy life, you’re more likely to feel energized, creative, and productive. When you feel helpless and hopeless, you’re more likely to feel listless and directionless. Given that we don’t know how long we have on the physical plane, doesn’t it make more sense to enjoy our lives?
Think of it this way:
Life is a buffet, a bounty.
If we fear change, if we try to keep it exactly the way it is, to keep that delicious spread looking perfect and beautiful and untouched, what will happen to all that food? It will rot and you won’t get to eat it. No one else will get to eat it either.
If you fight for a static existence, you can’t really enjoy it, and that effort is pointless anyway because nothing stays static. Everything changes. No matter how hard you cling to the way things are, they will still change. You can fight to keep that buffet looking perfect, but that serves no one. Without eating from the bounty with others, it will decay and be of no use to anyone.
So why not eat from the bounty, enjoy it, and share it with others? Isn’t that a much more pleasant and productive way to treat a delicious buffet?
Dealing with Challenges in a Conscious Way
Choosing to live consciously is not living like Pollyanna or saying “no, nothing is going on in the world.” It is saying “Yes, there is something going on, and it is serious.”
It’s not burying your head in the sand. It’s choosing to face those issues as head-on as possible.
It is choosing to act from love and consciousness instead of fear.
Once you’re able to tune into consciousness, there’s just no need to fear death and change. Of course, you don’t want it, but you have a broader perspective and can accept it peacefully.
In consciousness, you can see that the events happening in our world today are often consequences of our actions. Then you can choose what to do next and how to help.
You can enjoy life while working to create change and helping others. You can bring love and light wherever you go, despite what’s going on around you. Think of Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, who survived a concentration camp in the Holocaust by choosing to live in consciousness instead of despair.
When we despair and say we have no agency and no impact, it contributes to feelings of helplessness and disconnection.
The more we focus on love and the spiritual aspect of life, the less fearful we’ll be, and the more positive energy we’ll contribute to the world.