Disillusionment with Life: from Illusion to Rebirth
When the high becomes a low or it’s no longer worth it any more, or even enough; buying things, taking things, eating things, relationships – sexual, platonic, familiar, professional, work/career, the dreams you had, the goals you’ve strived to make … when something comes to an end. Sometimes a crashing end. And those emotions you were feeling, the neurotransmitters with their release of dopamine, or those endorphins that elevated you, have dropped and the excitement, love, happiness, elation are nowhere to be seen. Done. Dusted. Packed their bags and left. When your body stops producing those feel-good hormones and you feel different. Not yourself. Disenchanted. Left with an of overwhelm of failure, misery, loss or emptiness. You might ask is it burn out? Are you just over tired and run down? Disconnected? No longer feeling joy or finding spark in anything or anyone that once sparkled for you? Maybe you’re not feeling much at all? Or are you feeling so much you’re feeling it all – but not how you were feeling before it all changed.
Is this psychological or spiritual crisis? The answer is, it can be both. But the letdown of disillusionment does not have to become your new way of life. This isn’t IT. And yes, there is more. There is opportunity to shift from illusion through disillusionment to rebirth. I want to share with you how.
As part of your growth and development in this human experience you and all of us will face disillusionment at some point. If not numerous points in a lifetime. Often, they begin in childhood. Smaller bursts of your little bubbles make you feel the pangs of hurt and loss. Or they reveal a painful truth you didn’t see coming. As you get older these moments can feel momentous or even have you questioning life in its entirety. What goes up must come down. It is science. It is universal law and, it is the way of the world in this duality we live in. That those peak experiences cannot sustain, thus the highs can become lows. It is also inevitable that you will experience the shattering of idealism and glamours if you want to live a conscious or spiritual life as well. As this way of living includes consistently letting go of old, outdated beliefs, values, habits, addictions, patterns and ways of seeing the world and living in the world if you are truly want to grow, evolve and reach higher states of consciousness. Essentially, if you want to be the greatest version you can.
If you have ever been here, and likely in some capacity you have numerous times already in different ways; as a child, a teenager and, now as an adult. It comes in different forms but it is there. And it is normal – many of us have ideals that become idealism in some way or another. Like a natural high that kicks in and life seems better, brighter, more, well, ideal. Dare I say all you asked for in the moment, ever wanted, amazing, fabulous, Instagram worthy. But this peak experience and feeling of elation even doesn’t last. Why? Well, what goes up must come down. And whether it is a tiny crack in the veneer or a complete shattering of something in your life it can leave you feeling flat, emotional, even to the point of depression or bring about anxiety leading to paranoia. It can leave you feeling all alone, with nowhere or no one to turn to. Even asking what is the point if this? What is the point of life? Is it really worth it anymore now? This can be a physical, emotional, mental and psychological let down or down spiral. It can also be a spiritual crisis if you have lost connection with something or someone (even yourself) and the true value, purpose and substance it or they provided. You may also feel as though you’ve lost your meaning or raison de etré – as we say in French. That any desire at all now no longer exists. Like not being able to grab hold of the life-giving light of your own soul that you long to hold onto if nothing else.
At these points, you need to come to terms with what is real. To grieve the loss by fully feeling the sadness/pain/grief and accept this time of suffering. Then, let go of the illusion you were holding so tightly that is now shattered and shift from the floor of darkness and rise again with more clarity, understanding, knowledge, experience and love-wisdom even. Logical? Yes. Easy? Not always.
Before you navigate through you may ask, “How did I even get here?” Well, to be disillusioned you must have had an illusion, a glamour or Maya as it is esoterically called. A misconception of reality like a fog that you were looking through or a veil and you believed or thought that what was on the other side was something it wasn’t. You and everyone else who has ever walked this earth has done the same. Our own misconception leads to our own suffering. The beauty is that it is also an opportunity to self-correct through realisation of greater truth. If we don’t change and adjust our perception to this new truth we run the risk of falling down and breaking under the shattering of our once held ideal world view. It’s big. It hurts. And I felt it too along the way. Especially when I have wanted so much for a relationship to work. Both romantic and friendship and I kept giving everything but that person was who they were and my idealised and romanticised version of what they could be or wished they’d show me, never happened. So, I had to walk away. Which is heart breaking. Earth shattering and the pain and devastation of my Universe changed my experience so dramatically that in the ocean of emotion it was hard to trust that this too shall pass – as the saying goes. You and I and all of us, unconsciously or consciously, hold on so tight to these illusions at times.
Stanley Teitelbaum, author of Illusion and Disillusion: Core Issues in Psychotherapy wrote in his book that, “Throughout their lives, individuals maintain illusions about themselves and their world that sustain them and serve as organizing principles and the loss of these illusions in the harsh light of reality requires a psychological negotiation with the impact of disillusionment.”
I’d say our mate Stan has a point. We need to negotiate and amend our perceptions. Part of that is knowing disillusionment is better than ignorance. For if we remain ignorant or continue to try shut out the truth we have now uncovered, by using any form of distraction or defenses, then we aren’t being courageous nor are we seizing the opportunity being presented to us. At times of disillusionment you have the opportunity to instead be open to the rebirth after the death of your dearly cherished ideal. The opportunity also to alchemise your pain and suffering into a new, more aware and conscious reality. Essentially, this is your opportunity to embrace Ultimate reality (at least a step closer to it) while recognising the duality of life. That little Universal law I mentioned of, what goes up must come down. It is here you can transcend glamours, illusions and Maya and move closer to Divine consciousness. Closer to acceptance and self-realisation. Closer to embracing and living a life of Truth, Love-Wisdom and Beauty.
Part of this may also include questioning, exploring and sitting with your idealism V’s reality? Even if that means looking at the situation in hindsight. Were your expectations realistic? Could you or can you try having no expectations? But instead do your best, while honoring your truth and harming none? Sit with that for a moment. No expectations. Doing your best. Honouring your Truth. Harming none (that means in your actions, words, thoughts). In a world of constant change, when what seems real today will not be real tomorrow how can you best live, love, grow and evolve in this reality?
Disillusionment does not have to lead to bitterness, spiralling depression or paranoia. To do your best like I mentioned and not dwell in the emotions of what has happened and to ensure you give yourself the best help and support you can, you need to acknowledge that you or any of us can’t always do it all alone. Sometimes in order to do this work you need guidance from a trusted professional, teacher or guide. At the same time, you can also greatly benefit from exploring some practices and implementing some tools in your own time to help along the way;
- Social media detox and reevaluation. Sometimes you need a break, sometimes you need to break up entirely with social media. Ask yourself, “is it causing me more harm than good right now?” “Are my emotions, mind, or my body effected by the content I see and read on different platforms?” Should I have some time off? Unfollow certain people or things? Reevaluate how I use social media and its effects on me. You know the answers already. Listen to that higher voice guiding you.
- Breathe, Ground, Earth & Exhale – When was the last time you got into nature? Felt the sun warming your face? Put your feet on sand or soil? Hugged a tree or, just went for a walk outside? With some calm, deep breathing; inhaling and pausing, exhaling and pausing for even 10 sets as you let yourself connect to nature and reconnect to yourself. It sounds so simple yet it is so very effective.
- Strike Your healthy balance between solo time and being around someone or people who you trust, who are compassionate and kind. Do you have enough solo time? Can you enjoy your own company – doing as you like? Do you have a trusted friend or loved one to reach out to and spend some time with or call? Or, is there a group, community gathering or event of likeminded, kind souls you can be around? Do you need more you time or some company right now? Answer this for yourself. Then make it happen.
- Who is your go to person or people? A loved one, and/or a professional to guide you through grief, forgiveness, healing and reconnecting to an authentic place of joy and harmony in your life is key. This is part of what I offer with Sacred Guidance sessions if you are going through challenge, change or crisis right now and need a trusted professional. There are many people to reach out to. Do your research. Find the right person for you. Someone who you can feel safe and relaxed with. Someone you can trust to bare all to with no fear of judgment, criticism or dogma.
- Move Have you been stuck on the couch or screen for too long? Maybe you need to put on your favourite joy tune and have a little dance in your lounge or bedroom. Perhaps you need to get back to your salsa or ballet or Zumba class, or just stretch and hit the yoga mat wherever it calls. Moving the body helps move stagnant chi or prana. Energy. You know what it feels like when you’ve been still for too long. Be it a never-ending car or plane ride or bingeing Netflix. You need to move! Find your joyful way of doing it and make it a part of your lifestyle.
- Mindfulness Can you bring some presence, some awareness and now-ness to your life. Would you like to explore this by reading a book? Writing or journaling? Witnessing your thoughts, feelings, reactions or actions? Maybe it’s in washing the dishes by hand as you take some slow, calming breaths, fully present in the simple daily task at hand. Or pausing right here, right now to just exhale drop your shoulders, softening your belly, let it go, slow, calm, still. Remind yourself this too shall pass. Whatever it is. Wherever you are at. It won’t last like this. It can’t. Change is inevitable. How can you find a moment of mindfulness right now?
- Meditation It comes in many forms and has been used as a life changing tool all around the world for longer than many of us realise. From relaxation and calming, to concentration, mind control and laser focus. Do you have a meditation practice or has it slipped recently? Do you need to create a meditation practice or find a new method that works for you? Now is the time. Keeping in mind 5 minutes each morning is far better than 20min or one hour here and there.
- Floating or Floatation Therapy also known as ‘sensory deprivation’ is a scientifically proven way to calm the central nervous system. Bringing your brain to the tranquil theta wave state while infusing your body with magnesium as you float completely buoyant in a pod that blocks our all external distractions from sight and sounds to tactile sensations and of course gravity. All the better for you to reach higher states of consciousness. All different doctors, therapists and scientists prescribe and recommend floating especially for mental health – including depression, anxiety, PTSD along with muscle tension, burn out and fatigue. It is also ideal relaxation, time out for you to recharge and even for optimised creativity. Floating is something I’ve done weekly for six years. I especially loved it post exercise, for a weekly recharge and creative booster AND I went 3 times per week during my pregnancy.
- Serve others. There is an art to being able to place your worries, fears, even pain to the side momentarily. Like putting a book back in the bookcase for an afternoon while you go help someone else. This is not to be confused with ignoring or pretending everything is fine and simply forgetting about it and moving on as if nothing happened. Instead, think of this as another one of those golden opportunities for light to shine through a tiny open door. This works when you change your perspective and focus your energy, thoughts, awareness, and even entire being temporarily on or with another. Helping or being there for someone else may in turn help you shift from darkness to light. It may open you up to a whole new world, perspective, feelings, renewed joy even. While encouraging you see a new perspective to your own pain. Supporting someone else navigate their challenges can reignite your compassion for others. Knowing they too suffer as you do. This alone can help lift you or help you see with more clarity your own suffering and how to navigate it when you return to processing your emotions, feelings and thoughts. It can also help you see the power of self-forgetfulness if only for an afternoon.
- The Silver Lining – as I just touched on, from our suffering we have the opportunity to deeper connect with others who have also been there or are here too. We can strengthen our ability to respond to their pain with more compassion, loving kindness, humility and non-judgment. This is part of a conscious life. Of walking a spiritual path. It is humbling to know no matter how far we may think we are, we are still humble students having a human experience striving to be entirely divine or perfected. And as long as we are, we will continue to either experience or witness suffering, until We as a united humanity evolve beyond.
- Know and Trust, as with all things, this too shall pass. What does this mean? Nothing remains the same in life. Nothing is permanent. In fact, all is impermanent as Buddha taught. As all is energy it is in constant movement. Flux, change, life, death, rebirth. An ever turning spiral, an ever-moving wheel. This includes emotions, they especially never last. Like a river, they are ever flowing and you can try cup your hands and hold it but eventually it will slip through your fingers. Your goal is to stop grasping at or holding onto emotions. Instead letting them flow through you and from you. Trust in a brighter tomorrow. Know, this too shall pass.
- Light the Way – Where to from here? What about channeling the new reality, wisdom or truth you have unveiled, the new high desire and light into something of purpose. Can you share, educate, teach, guide, show or light the way for another or others in your home, family, community, beyond? When we learn something, and take a turn upon the upward spiral of life, we have a responsibility to also turn around and offer a helping hand to those who may be even just as step behind. This selfless service is how we demonstrate love. This selfless service is how we alchemise our darkness and suffering and turn it into light.
Times of disillusionment do not often pass in a linear sequence in the time frame you want. Navigating the trek from illusion to disillusion then to greater awareness and higher consciousness is like a journey of uphill mountains and down into valleys. Until you find a new pattern of being (thinking new thoughts, feeling all emotions without gripping, wallowing or holding on, and choosing wiser, conscious ways of doing and being). You learn to flow and eventually find greater truth and thus a new rhythm of living. A rhythm of inner harmony and Oneness. You begin to move/live with the current of life. It’s ups and downs. Instead of trying to go against it, in the way you think or feel it should ideally be to suit your ideal wants. You embrace its many facets (of seeming chaos and disillusionment at times) and become the calm watcher and pilgrim on the Lighted Way.
There is an esoteric line that says “Know, Express, Reveal, Destroy and Resurrect”. If you know something and you express it and live it as if it is your truth, but then this exciting fog clears and the shiny veil is lifted on that truth and a different reality, one less pretty, perfect and alluring is revealed to you. One that shatters and destroys your old knowing that you had, your illusion, glamour or Maya that was blinding you from reality. You then are invited to come full circle and resurrect yourself. As a phoenix from the ash rises again. Born anew. Now with deeper compassion for others and self, with greater understanding of reality and of truth, ultimately of life.
May you embrace each shattering and revealing of the beliefs, realities, glamours, illusions and Maya that you hold. Instead come to see them as luminous, golden opportunities for more light, love, truth, wisdom and beauty to take their place in your remarkable, ever evolving experience of life. If I can serve your journey along the way reach out HERE. In Light & Love of the Soul, Elise | S*M