The Darkest Hour

Originally published at writerz-block.com

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

The darkest hour is just before the dawn.

I believe this saying is 100% accurate. But the problem is that we must learn how to master (what I refer to as) the darkness cycle before we can actually see the light of the dawn.

The Darkness Cycle

The darkness cycle includes three phases: bad times, bad days, and the darkest hour. I believe that there is a difference between bad and dark. There is also a difference between times and days.

We all have bad times, which, by my definition are fleeting moments in time which might be a little gloomier than others. We all have bad days, those days where it just seems like the sun refuses to shine on us and the weight of the world is a little heavier than we think we can bear. On bad days it might rain really hard, there might even be a storm, but a rainbow always pops out of the clouds to remind you of God’s promises and the beauty that can become of your ashes.

But the darkest hour — now that’s a totally different subject. That’s where the heat gets turned up to OH MY GOD, I can’t take this anymore! Feelings of hopelessness and despair abound and the temptation to quit is at an all-time high. However, quitting at this stage of the game is the absolute worst thing you can do.

Like ever.

Why? Not only because you will lose the momentum you worked so hard to gain in the bad times and bad days, but you will lose confidence in your ability to overcome the darkest hour.

This is neither the time nor the place to give up. But in reality, I think a lot of us quit at this point because don’t fully understand what not giving up really looks like.

Don’t Ever Give Up

I’ve come to realize that we simply give up far too easily. We blame it on the excuse that we’ve tried a million times and it hasn’t worked so it must be a sign that we need to let it go.

The harsh reality is you never truly let go of your dreams.

On the surface, it looks like you’ve moved on, but what happens is you just end up suppressing it. You suffocate your dreams hoping they don’t make a sound to remind you that you no longer believe they can come true.

Listen, I know that people think you’re crazy because you’ve been at it for years and you haven’t seen a breakthrough. If you feel like you’re beating your head against a brick wall, take some time to be silent and ask yourself if this is still something that you passionately want to pursue. Take some time to get clarity and then rethink your strategy.

Reassess. Refuel. Recharge. Regroup. But by all means, do NOT give up!

Come up with a different plan of attack. And next time push just a little bit harder past what you believe is your point of no return. That is when you will start to see true progress.

If we give up too soon, we get caught in what seems like a never ending cycle of what we don’t want. Unaware of the dark cycle, or unwilling to endure it, we continually stop ourselves just short of the breakthrough every time because we see the impending dark clouds as a warning that we shouldn’t go any further down that road.

When we get to the point of suffering, we remember what suffering looked and felt like in the past. Wounds of rejection are reopened and our bleeding hearts convince us that we can’t go on. We relive our shortcomings and how we failed in the past and we tell ourselves that we are not sure how we’ll get through it this time.

Oh, we’ve all heard stories about how people have overcome trials and tribulations to get to where they are today, but after a while that’s all they start to sound like to us: just stories.

Oh, did you hear the one about the guy who was homeless and became a millionaire? Or how about the lady who lived out of her car for months until she got her big break?

What we need to do is recognize the darkness cycle and tell ourselves a new story.

Rewrite Your Story

Did you know you can actually change the past by changing the story that you tell yourself about yourself?

Each time you tell a story about your past, you create another version of that memory in your mind. It’s like creating a document in Word, making changes, and then saving over the changes that you made.

If you haven’t activated it in Windows 8, there is no file recovery. There are no previous versions of your file. What you save is what you get. So if you change it and save it you’ll pull up a different record of that document the next time you recall it.

Your brain works the same way. If there was something in your past that was holding you back before, it’s okay to recall it now, but change what you tell yourself about that memory. Reframe it. Find a way to recall it as a launching pad, and you’ve just changed the trajectory of your life.

I’m sure you’re thinking, that’s much easier said than done, right?

Surely losing the love of your life to cancer, or losing your job, or “insert horrible thing that was totally outside of your control here” cannot be viewed as anything but a tragedy, right?

Wrong.

Sometimes we think that the more difficult the problem the more difficult it is to solve. The good news is we get to determine how bad we perceive the situation to be by our mindset.

You can grab a fresh vision, a new mindset, a completely different perspective that not only changes the way that you think about the situation but changes the way that you think about yourself and how resilient you truly are. As a result, you change the way that you respond, and then change the way that you act.

If you can follow the change cycle from thought, to response, to action, you’re on your way to the dawn, baby!

Wake Up and Face Reality

Here’s the rub. Even when you do make it to what feels like the light of dawn, and you feel the ecstasy of accomplishing your goal, you will still face more bad times and bad days and eventually another darkest hour situation.

The darkness cycle is a part of life.

However, having already overcome a complete darkness cycle, you a). understand that it exists and come to expect it — not in a “I know something bad is gonna happen to me today” kinda way, but more of an intelligent “if something happens, I’m not gonna freak out because…well, things happen” sorta way — and b). you know from previous experience that you can survive a darkness cycle.

If you did it before, you can do it again.

I know it gets hard. I know sometimes you feel lost and you can’t seem to find your way. Even in the midst of what looks and seems good on the outside, there’s still a part of you that knows that you were created for more.

I get it. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there.

The moral of the story is, no matter how dark it gets, the darkest hour literally is just before the dawn. And if you keep pressing, keep believing, keep holding on, just a little further. Just one more time. Every time. You’ll feel the sun shine down on you again. Because that’s a part of life too. :)

Continue the Conversation

What about you? Does my theory of the darkness cycle resonate with you? How have you overcome feelings of wanting to give up?