Surviving the Wasteland

on September 25, 2023

8 Tools for Coping with Emotional Upheaval


I was struck recently by an article that talked a lot about accepting your flaws and imperfect life as it is—and living a determined life. It was a refreshing change to share some time with other people and their stories as they went through struggles, loss, and most important—transformation. (Thank you writers and determined people!)

Transformation is awesome, but you know—it comes at a high cost. None of us are perfect. And no matter how much anyone makes their social media look like they are a rockstar, everyone is going through life’s struggles behind the scenes, often quietly struggling, and usually in isolation. A lot of people are in the tundra emotionally—whether from sickness, loss, heartache, or just being in the process of transformation. None of it is easy. Being human and becoming our best human comes at a price.

This might be your season to experience loss. This year’s harvest might be slim. But remember that you are building for the long-term. And each moment that you give your best adds up, whether you see it right now or not. The season of transformation will eventually end, and soon you will once again feel the lightness of the air and your wings will take flight. Until then, know that it’s okay to be where you are. We are all there at some point.

Here are some ideas for making the best of the darker days and finding comfort in simple things.

Surviving The Wasteland


Have you ever been there?

The dictionary describes it as the state of being abandoned or forsaken, a state of solitary misery.

It’s like walking around with an inner wasteland that no one can see.

I think perhaps, it’s the solitary piece that destroys—isolation, loneliness, feeling trapped by your circumstances, and unable to share what’s really happening in your life. Walking alone can be an evil that perpetuates your misery, and even drive you to a darker place. If you’re in the wasteland, then beware and prepare—you’re a target. You need to build strength and skills and build them fast.

There’s no silver bullet, but here are some things I hope might help.

  1. Get connected. Find someone to talk to. Pick one person you trust who can listen without offering solutions of what they would do, or what you should do. Someone who can help you simply stay connected. Then you can branch out and connect with others—not so share your wasteland—there’s very little there to share and it will only stress out others. Instead, connect and enjoy the other parts of your life that are positive.
  2. Develop yourself. You might not have the energy yet to do it, but watch a documentary, read a book, listen to a podcast. Keep it simple. You’re not likely in a place to give, so start receiving. Get some different opinions, perspectives, ideas. These are also great things to talk about when you are out and about connecting.
  3. Explore diet and exercise changes. What’s a small thing that might be interesting to try? Is it being vegetarian twice a week? Learning to bake? Doing a new routine at the gym? Trying a new vitamin? Long walks in the country? Your body needs care. Deep emotional stress is depleting beyond what we understand. Learn to breathe through it. Meditate outside. Meditate inside. Keep your body the healthiest it can be. Think of yourself as staying fit for battle because in the wasteland, the battle is daily.
  4. Extreme Self Care. Do anything you can afford to do: a new hairstyle, mani-pedi, a facial treatment, massage, and new outfit. Make yourself feel good in healthy ways. Be your physical best even if you don’t feel so hot on the inside. Eventually your outer goodness will either be absorbed into your body and create positive vibes, or people will notice your outer goodness and give you positive vibes. Or not. It doesn’t matter. Don’t wait to be told you deserve the royal treatment. Just give yourself the royal treatment through positive self-love.
  5. Change your space. It’s darker earlier, so add candles and soft, snuggly throw blankets. Get some firewood and create heat. Rearrange the furniture. Clean up your room or office. Buy a new bed set. Switch out the throw pillows. A fresh look can help create a fresh outlook. It’s also a physical way to get away from feeling stuck.
  6. Focus on only this moment. This second is all that counts. Be the best you can be in these seconds. It’s the surest way to get you past pain and into a more positive space. Sometimes it’s about getting through the day. Other times its about getting through the next fifteen seconds, then the next and the next. Stay right in the moment you are in, and battle the negative with confidence and determination until you are in a more peaceful and calmer fifteen seconds.
  7. Remember you are human and so is everyone else. Just accept yourself and everyone else for where they are right now. Sure, sometimes you can offer encouragement, or advice (if they ask), and prayers if you pray. But most times, just knowing that you are accepted for where you are is the most powerful form of love you can give anyone. You can’t fight other people’s battles or solve their problems. To do so is to deny them their own opportunities to grow. Focus on your growth and let them do the same. Embrace imperfection. Because you know, flaws are kind of interesting and we can learn a lot from them.
  8. Focus on giving love invisibly and physically. Love is the most overused word and underused power. People say “I love you” but it comes with conditions. “I love you if you do this and don’t do that.” “I love you for as long as you make me happy.” “I love you as long as you change—or don’t change.” “I love you until I don’t feel love for you anymore.” It’s a bit frightening to think that love can be taken away from you so easily. That’s when you have to really dig down into who you are and know that nothing has been take away from you. You still have love. Your love—the love you grow, the love you give—is the one thing that can’t be taken away. Don’t put conditions on yourself. Yes, have healthy boundaries! But let your love grow inside you. Pray for it, nurture it, protect it, and give it. The more you grow love inside you, the less powerful the wasteland becomes. Desolation thrives on fear, on anger, on lies, on manipulation, on selfishness, on negativity of every kind. Love is the armor and the sword that shocks it, makes it scramble with confusion, and crushes it when it attacks. Love will keep you at peace. Love will give you courage. Love opens you to the lessons you can learn in this moment. Love will make you a force of power and abundance. And your force will help others in the wasteland in ways you will likely never realize. But that’s not for you to know. Just know that it’s true.

The wasteland is different for everyone. Some days, you will find yourself full of anger, anxiety, chaos, or even despair that things will never change—or change fast enough for you to hang on. Some days you might have melancholy, tears, and depression. Accept where you are right now, but do what you can today. It might only be repeating a mantra or the simplest prayer over and over. It’s okay. That’s actually very positive and productive. Give yourself credit! Then fold some laundry, buy some groceries, read something inspirational, meditate for five minutes. Repeat your mantra.

Most of all keep walking, because eventually you will get to the other side, and you’ll be surprised by the goodness that awaits. And don’t you want to be ready to embrace all that goodness armed with the knowledge, lessons, strength, wisdom, and fearlessness that you’ve rightfully earned?

The wasteland has a temporary place in our lives, but it’s an important one. The wasteland strips us bare so we can lose what we don’t need, discover what we really need, and finally flourish at a higher level where we are meant to be.

Wherever you are in the wasteland, keep walking and get on through. Get some sleep. Start again tomorrow. The sun will rise again.

Yours in the journey,



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