The death of Robin Williams this week has come as a great surprise. Who would of thought that such a brilliant comedian, humanitarian, loving, gentle and successful person could be in so much pain? The death of Robin has certainly caused me to look more deeply into my own patterns and the way I mask my own suffering through comedy and smiley faces.
To the public, I am sure I come across as always being positive, but this is far from the truth. Watching and supporting my wife Celeste grieve the loss of her father after he committed suicide three years ago opened up a well within myself of deep feeling, suppressed grief, un-dealt-with emotion and forgotten pain. Her journey taught me how to be more vulnerable, open and in tune with my own emotional body and for this I am grateful beyond words.
There are days that getting out of bed is a big effort and there are other days where I feel like I am in a thick, dark cloud and all I can do is lay on the Earth and let the heaviness ooze out of me. But I don’t see this as depression, bi-polar or anything else. It is life, and more and more I am at peace when waves like this hit me. I believe we come here to experience the full spectrum of emotion and if we look at the world outside of ourselves there is so much pain and suffering. It’s hard not to feel.
It’s true, I suffer too.
I have a mother who lives with horrible pain in her body and there is nothing I can do about it. I have a brother who wants nothing to do with me and two incredible nephews who I never get to see. I owe money to people I care about and there are still months where I find it challenging to stay on top of things. I have epic battles with self doubt and I can hear a loud voice in my mind that tries to convince me that I’m a loser and there is something wrong with me.
This is not a rant, a complaint, or competition, because I know there are many people who suffer far more than I do. I just want to open up, be honest and put down my mask of who I think the world wants me to be. It does not serve. These are the lessons I am growing through right now and perhaps by sharing them openly it might help another to work through their challenges too. I imagine if we were all more open with how bad we actually felt instead of saying we’re “fine or good,” then perhaps we would see less amazing people take their own lives and maybe we’d have more compassion for the grumpy jerks of the world. Maybe if we all opened our hearts and shared what’s true for us we would experience less loneliness and more connection.
We may not all share the same political views or see life through the same lens. But one thing we do have in common is that we all have pain inside us that needs to come to light and be loved.
I have had more than a handful of friends who were incredibly gifted and seemingly happy go-lucky people who committed suicide and it saddens me to see one of my favourite comedians and actors go this way too. As I have dipped in and out of my own low tides I have learned something very valuable that I will share with you now.
Make yourself a Lifeline List. This is a checklist of things you can do that you know can help pull your head out of the sorrow or suffering because when you’re in it, it can be very hard to see the light switch in the dark.
Below is my Lifeline Checklist that I use in my dark hours:
[ ] Meditate (when I’m really down and out I put on one of my audio meditations to guide my practice)
[ ] Deep breathing (I will set a timer and do 5-10 minutes of power breathing to clear my energy)
[ ] Lay on the Earth (grounding is one of the most powerful ways we can recalibrate our energy)
[ ] Write in my journal (a prayer, gratitude list or forgiveness letter are common entries)
[ ] Walk in nature or go for a long hike without my phone
[ ] Sleep
[ ] Go golfing
[ ] Hydrate (often times dehydration is a big part of feeling clouded and crappy)
[ ] Get a coaching or healing session (asking for help has been big for me)
[ ] Go do a reBirthing breath session (the most potent form of healing I know)
[ ] Allow myself to be held and nurtured by someone I trust (usually my wife)
[ ] Have a big cry, scream, sound healing session to get the energy out of me
[ ] Exercise, dance, sweat, move the body
[ ] Do ceremony (go to a sweat lodge, tobacco prayer offering, etc…)
[ ] Listen to the voice of pain inside of me and ask what it needs to feel seen, loved and heard
[ ] Have a bath or jump in freezing cold water
[ ] Be in the company of a good friend
By doing the things on my Lifeline Checklist, I can usually pull myself back into balance. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort, but it is always worth it. Gratitude has probably been the most important lesson I have learned in my life (and am still learning). Even during the super difficult painful experiences, I do my best to say thank you to life. In fact, thank you is my go-to mantra in life. No matter what happens I do my best to say thank you. This allows me to release my resistance so I may be open to the blessing that life is offering.
My own suffering has taught me to be kinder and gentler to myself, as well as with everyone I meet. It has also taught me that feeling bad is okay and that being my own best friend is the greatest gift I can give myself, because as we saw through Robin Williams’ passing this week, we can have millions of people love us, but if we don’t love ourselves none of it matters because we won’t let it in.
Thank you, Robin Williams, for making me laugh, for making me cry, and for inspiring me to have a sense of humor through the journey of life.
I celebrate you and all the joy you have brought to the world and the legacy your work will continue to bring for many generations to come.
To my reader, thank you for coming this far. If there is anything you would like to share, please do it in the comments section below. If this has inspired you then please consider sharing it with your friends. Perhaps someone you know needs to read it.