Why You Should Still Carry On

I was having a phone conversation with my friend the other day. Now, my friend sometimes struggles with anxiety and so, during this phone conversation, my friend shared with me an epiphany he recently had about his anxiety. He had discovered that his anxiety had a limit: there was a moment where his anxiety got as bad as it could get, and then it leveled off and receded—and my friend was calm again. After realizing this, my friend decided that, from now on, if he ever felt anxiety again, he would simply remind himself that anxiety can’t last forever. This approach completely changed the way he saw things and instantly improved the quality of his life.

After I got off the phone with my friend, I had my very own epiphany:  it occurred to me that the same rule applied to everything else. Because everything—no matter what it is—has its limits.

The Limits of Our Emotions

A while back, I talked about pseudoforgiveness and how one needs to feel the full extent of their emotions in order to be able to, eventually, forgive the person who caused them the pain in the first place.

I got some interesting responses. I think people thought I was suggesting that everyone cling to their negative emotions indefinitely. But I would never suggested that.

What I was suggesting was that if you are simply aware of your emotions and don’t seek to cling to them—when you allow your emotions to flow through you as if you are a vessel for your emotions, and not a storage tank–then you may find that your emotions have limits. They have an end. And when you reach that end, there is great relief on the other side.

On the other hand, it’s when we allow our emotions to build up inside of us, without releasing them, that things get worse. At first, we might fear that if we let ourselves feel a particular emotion, we’ll never get out of that emotion. So, afraid of a “limitless” emotion, we numb the emotion, instead. We ignore it, we postpone it, we delay dealing with the “feeling.”

It’s the fear of our “limitless emotions” that worry us the most about beginning to “feel.”

But if we’re given a safe and supportive environment, we might find that we can reach the limit of every negative emotion–and can return safe and unharmed afterward. When we reach the limit of our emotions, we can see that our emotions are not all-consuming. They are not limitless, and we can overcome them.

I’m not saying that you must get stuck in the hurt. I am not saying you should grasp the hurt, cling to it, or stay in it. I’m saying that you must feel the emotion to its full extent in order to realize that, in the end, the hurt has a limit. When you realize that the hurt has a limit, you no longer have to fear it, and you can move on more easily.

The Limits of Our Adversity

The same universal law applies to other aspects of life.

I spoke some time ago about how, when one gets closer to achieving one’s dreams, the journey gets harder. But some worried that I was being too discouraging by writing about this particular stage of the journey.

But if you read the article again, you may notice that I never said that the experience of adversity would last forever. In fact, the metaphor I used was climbing a mountain. And I don’t care how tall a mountain you’re climbing, every mountain has its limit. You will, sooner or later, reach its peak.

I may be climbing a big mountain to achieve my dreams right now, but I know that, eventually, I will reach the mountain’s summit. I have to. (Mountains can rise only so high off the ground, you know.)

It may be harder to climb the higher you get, but a mountain is not limitless. Gravity may pull you down the closer you get to your dreams–but even gravity can only do so much. Even a mountain has its shortcomings.

Because everything has its limits.

Me and my friend (the one who spoke to me about the limits of his anxiety) had another talk recently. At the end of our talk, we came to the conclusion that everything in life unfolds in stages and that we had to find peace with that truth, if we ever wanted to succeed in life.

We had to be at peace with the fact that “what goes up must come down.”

One day the rain will fall, and the sky will be cloaked in gloom; but, eventually, the rain will have to stop, and the sky will have to break open and let the light pour in.

Fall must give way to Winter. Winter must give way to Spring, and Spring must eventually give way to Summer. No single season is master of the entire year.

As I continue my novel-writing journey, I am learning that life unfolds in stages, and that we must learn how to master each stage, without letting any single stage master us.

Why You Should Still Carry On

Whether you choose to believe things will get better for you, or not, they will get better. They have to.

Eventually, there comes a point where there is no other way that “worse” can lead to but back to “better.”

This is not a statement of belief. This is a matter of fact. It is a universal truth.

All suffering has to end eventually. It has to. It is simply not powerful enough to escape the universal law of limits that applies to everyone and everything.

So, if you feel like you can’t carry on, just wait a bit longer. Because things are about to get whole lot better.

I don’t believe it. I know it.

much carry on,


Editor’s note: this post originally ended with the song “Carry On” by Fun.

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39 comments on “Why You Should Still Carry On

  1. mariegoodwyn says:

    Hi Ollin, It took me a while not reach this epiphany – I find now that if I remind myself that; “This too shall pass” (repeat as required) it really helps!

  2. Patrick says:

    If you haven’t already, you should check out the author Karla McLaren…

  3. Hi Ollin,

    I really like this topic & post, because I think we can often mistakenly assume that everything in our lives has to fall on the “positive” side of the ledger. That when we experience a “negative” emotion, thought or moment that we need to rush through, avoid or ignore it because it’s uncomfortable. I’m not saying I wish to remain in the negative, because lets face it, like anyone else, I definitely prefer the “positive.” But I’m starting to see my life as but a series of moments, made from countless experiences ~ the positive and the negative. I’m learning, sometimes painstakingly slow, that if I want to live with my heart open (which I do), then I must experience it all, the negative too, but then learn to release – to let it go. Sometimes the letting go takes a lot longer than I would prefer. It’s not always on the timetable of my choosing, but then that’s a topic for another day 😉

    I like to remind myself of this too…that even on those dark, stormy days, when the clouds cover the sky, the sun still shines. As do we. So even during those moments when the clouds hover over our hearts, and we feel like our walk is through an endless night, our inner lights still shine ~ always.


    • Ollin says:

      Yes, that can cause so much stress and suffering to believe we must always exist in a state of no-stress and no-suffering. It’s ironic if you think about it, but if you just accept that sometimes you will be stressed and sometimes you will suffer–but that this stress and suffering will end–you’ll feel a whole lot better. It won’t solve all your problems–but it will make you feel better definitely.

  4. Wow this is a beautiful post Ollin! I had realised that each time I tried to ignore my negative emotions and build them up inside until one day, I exploded. This was not good at all. And now I indeed let it flow through me. It’s tiring and scary because there is this fear of never getting rid of this feeling, but in fact, it does end. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
    By the way your blog was awarded the Versatile and Very Inspiring awards! Congrats! http://evilnymphstuff.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/once-more-bloggers-celebrate/

  5. Shelly Immel says:

    Ollin, this is exactly the kind of knowledge that DOES comfort me when I’m in a rough patch. Nice to see it so well articulated here.

    I recently interviewed creative grief coach Cath Duncan, and one of the simple yet powerful things she said was:
    when you survive great loss, you learn that “I am okay – even with this going on.”

    Not indifferent. Not unfeeling. Not pleased to be in this painful spot. But “okay” – meaning I can come through this, too. And if I can make it through this, I can survive anything.

    It’s easier to face the pain, ride the wave to its limit (and to mine), with the knowledge that in the end, the indestructible parts of me will survive, clearer than ever. In this way, instead of focusing on my limitations, I grow my capacity for joy as well as pain and endurance.

    After all, who wants to be stuck in foothills when there are bigger mountains to climb–and treasures along the path.

  6. Michelle says:

    True…true…I took a course or self help weekend years ago called EST…Prior to this life affecting weekend I could not look people in the eye or strangers in the eye. After hours of humiliation…it got easier. It was a really good experience that still affects me almost 30 years later. One phrase they used over and over was “experience the experience”. Just as you said we walk through things to get to a better place because it does always get better. I believe it can happen faster when we “believe” it will get better and we have the power to improve any situation…it just may take more time, effort and belief.

  7. ansuyo says:

    Powerful. It’s amazing how our “always” or “never” thinking gets us down. We can ride out our emotions without succumbing to them. Realizing they are not forever helps us keep from drowning in them. Angie

  8. ansuyo says:

    Reblogged this on doyoumeanwhatiknow and commented:
    I have to reblog this post because it is truly powerful and well said. We tend to think our feelings and emotions are forever, but they never are. Time always brings us around to change. We don’t need to drown in our emotions, we can ride them to their conclusion, dealing with them, but not allowing them to overwhelm us. This too shall pass.

    Warning: Confession to follow.
    I will never forget the day I learned this lesson. I had been struggling with dealing with my past and various struggles, so I was vulnerable. I was visiting with my family and someone made a comment (as he often did) that sent me off the deep end. I have always been heavy, and a family member often made comments that stated or implied that I was not pretty/desirable/ etc. because of this. At the time it didn’t matter that this was/is false. I went to my room to hide and lick my wounds and decided I would kill myself. This was the third time I had been at this point and God had turned me back. The decision was to wait until everyone was asleep so no one could stop me. I didn’t think about what finding me would do to my parents, for I was too focused on the pain radiating through me. As I lay, I prayed and cried. At one point, it was as if God reached down and lifted me above myself, allowing me to see the ebb and flow of the emotions washing over me. I realized the emotions were not me. They were something that affected me, but they were not me. I was able to see that even in the short term, they rose and fell. They never stayed static. When I went back in, I realized something: the emotions I was feeling would pass. They were only my reality for a short time, not a long-term event. I also realized that God had given me a gift in allowing me to view my emotional state differently.

    Obviously, I did not kill myself, but this was a definate turning point in my life. I have never again wanted to die by my own hand. I began to heal from the emotional bullying and change my self-image and my self-worth. I began to do what this post talks about. I carried on.

    Everything changes, and recognizing the temporary nature of our emotions, feelings, and even life events allows us to ride the wave instead of drowning under them.

    Do you tend to get bogged down in emotions or anxiety?
    How do you deal with it when these times come?
    Can you recognize the temperary nature of life and roll with it? Or do you allow your feelings to cloud your life at times?

    • Ollin says:

      Wow. You are so brave Angie. I am very moved. Thanks for having the courage to share your story, hopefully it will provide some healing and hope for someone else out there who deals with the same issue.

      Pardon me for getting a bit angry though at those members of your family: I hate how mean these people were to you. I’m sorry you had to go through that. It angers me that there are so many insensitive and mean people in the world. Anyways, I know what you went through has passed, but it’s a good reminder: we all love you and accept you as you are. You are a truly courageous, beautiful, and amazing person, and I can tell just by your words. Thank you.

  9. This is truly inspirational. Thank you. I KNOW this is true because I’ve had a couple of experiences in my life that unfolded and closed in this way.

  10. Fiona says:

    Great post, Ollin! I definitely agree with you, that even when things might seem endlessly awful, there will soon be an end. I’ve had the same experience, where it seems like everything just goes from bad to worse, both in life and in my own writing ventures. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel – eventually, things do get better. It might take a while, but it does happen. I think sometimes we all need a little reminder of that, and your post certainly reminded me of it! Thank you for another wonderful insight (I keep meaning to comment on your blogs, so for the first time, hello!).

  11. Wise thoughts here. I think this is also related to the importance of living in the moment, because this moment is the only now we experience. The next moment, everything changes. Sometimes for the worst, sometimes for the better, but it is always different. Change happens and there is nothing we can do to hasten it or stop it.

  12. R. E. Hunter says:

    This used to go in reverse for me when I was young—when everything was good I would get depressed because I knew it couldn’t last, that something bad had to happen.

    In recent years I’ve gotten it going in the right direction. When I’m depressed (and I mean as in major depressive disorder), I do what I have to do to survive and hang on, knowing that it will pass.

  13. Yvette says:

    Fantastic message Ollin! Yes I really get the truth of your whole essay. However the bit that resonates with me the most, being naturally the most pertinent to where I am at in my life, is the bit about everything happens in stages. I too am at the point in my writing experience that suddenly everything about it has gotten exponentially harder. I read your post and thought, hey that must mean I’m getting somewhere!! Ha ha. However I have been feeling a tiny amount overwhelmed and burdened with it all, so I like the thought that this is just a stage. This too shall pass….:-)

    Yvette Carol

  14. Lara Britt says:

    Terrific post! So glad I found you and can follow you now across many platforms! I’ve been advocating opposition to the knee-jerk push to forgive and forget for years now. It doesn’t allow for depth of living. If fact, it creates a manic world. We should all be more comfortable with discomfort. As you say, not wallow or cling…but witness so real healing can begin.

    • Ollin says:

      Right? I mean it’s good that people recognize that forgiveness is a necessary step to move on–but people need to understand that this process takes time and is not a “get out of jail free” card.

  15. MarinaSofia says:

    Beautifully expressed, thank you, I really need reminding of this at times! I sometimes get really angry with myself for ‘wallowing in the mud of self-pity’ and not having the right positive frame of mind at all times and not getting on with things. But it’s so hard to always be active, always look on the bright side, to purge oneself of negative emotions and thoughts.
    So my strategy now, after reading your article, will be to hum to myself: ‘Mud, mud, glorious mud, there’s nothing quite like it for cooling the blood…’ instead of feeling trapped by it!

  16. spinx says:

    This is so crazy!

    I swear to god, as soon as I read the title I was about to suggest you the song “carry on” from FUN. No need for that now……

    Good post, good post.

    And so damn hard to follow – but then again, whoever said this would be easy? Guess Joey Potter had it right all this time, only back then I was waaaaay too young to understand her constant rambles on having to “find herself” first.

    On another note – do you, by any chance know a song called “Oliver” by the MISERABLE RICH?
    I would highly advice you to give it a try – I was brought close to tears watching it.

    Here it goes:

  17. 83October says:

    I liked this post very much.
    Before coming here I just wrote a post on forgiveness. And yes, we can only forgive when we actually mean, otherwise we just ‘keep’ it as oppose to throwing the words ‘i forgive you’ and then actually resenting that person.
    There is limit to everything, as there is limit to our lives. Our hate, our anger…all of it shall come to pass. Nothing is permanent in this world not even our lives. The only reason, sometimes, that these feelings or experiencing are prolonged unnecessarily, is our inability to let things flow.

    Wonderful post Ollin. 🙂

  18. suewhelan says:

    Thank you for this lovely, helpful post Ollin.
    Sue 🙂

  19. Great post, Ollin. Another philosophy that sustains me: “you can’t appreciate the mountains until you’ve seen the valleys.” Life does ebb and flow. Thanks for thre positive reinforcement.

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