Reaching Out of Despair

“I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”

 ~Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

I remember earlier in life feeling totally alone and isolated—just like many of us are challenged by these days.

Dreary, cold weather–on top of the pandemic–is escalating our feelings of despair. February is typically one of the months my clients seem most depressed. We have ushered in a new year, but our dreams have yet to unfold. Life sometimes feels “on hold,” or at a standstill during the winter months.

Back to my painful memory of decades ago: I was living in a new home as a newlywed with a husband who traveled, did not know a soul in the neighborhood, had just sold my PR business and was without work to have a distraction to keep my mind occupied.

After spending long, weary moments in self-pity, looking for ways to make peace with solitude, I chose to reach out. I heard that one of my new neighbors had just fallen and hurt his leg.

I opted to take the attention off myself, and bake him and his wife some blueberry corn muffins. That was a big deal for me, to stretch out of my comfort zone, as baking was not one of my specialties at the time.

Then, to go one step further: In my vulnerable, lonely state, I walked across the street, knocked on the door of strangers and offered my first attempt at baking as an act of care, not perfection.

That outreach proved to be the foundation of a new friendship. A few years later when my daughter was born, she had jaundice. It was those same neighbors who provided emotional support when I had to return to the hospital with my new baby as my then- husband had to travel.

I share this story because I know reaching out to serve someone else can help us jump out of the rabbit hole of loneliness and despair.


Yet, there is also a fine and very important line here. Grief needs to be felt to be released. And let’s not underestimate that deprivation for all the losses we have universally endured this past year IS GRIEF.

In the words of Dr. Richard Moss: “You cannot heal what is dormant-—it must be lively, it must be triggered.” He suggests repeating: “I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT IT IS SAFE FOR ME TO FEEL MY FEELINGS, for in truth, GOD CANNOT HEAL WHAT I WON’T FEEL.”

Elizabeth Lesser, who wrote the beautiful book, Broken Open—Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, shared insights about her own grief in a recent article with The Sunday Paper by Maria Shriver.

In working with clients, whether they lost a loved one, a way of being or a sense of self, I consistently bring them back to feeling their feelings. Repressed feelings cause anxiety. As I repeatedly share, “The way out is in.” And, when we are witnessed with love and compassion, going inward can be joyfully liberating.

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  • Date to be determined/upcoming guest: Bruce Cryer, president at The Graduate Institute, former CEO of HeartMath, adjunct professor at Stanford University, a singer, dancer, songwriter, mentor and nature photographer. He recently released Renaissance Human, an album of original songs co-created with The Brothers Koren. Bruce will be sharing insights on “Awakening the Creative Force.”

Listen to recent episodes, including latest ones on self-love and building secure relationships, on my website at:

To enriching ourselves from within…may you feel touched by grace,


I took the above photo as a symbol of “space for grace” while hiking Medoc Mountain State Park, Hollister, N.C., last fall.



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  • Linda Salazar says:

    Another lovely blog, Gail. It never fails, when feeling a sense of despair, the act of reaching out and doing something kind for another brings out the joy and peace that is always in us, temporarily hidden beneath the despair.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones (“Coach Gail Jones”—Your worthiness expert) says:

      Thank you, Linda, for reminding us that joy and peace exist beneath the despair…and that they are just temporarily hidden. Blessings, Gail

  • Lisa May says:

    This is a beautiful piece about a topic that is more relevant now than ever….thank you Gail. Holding the deep knowingness that we are never alone is powerful, and yet incredibly difficult at times…..I love the simple reminder to “reach out” when we find ourselves in perceiving aloneness. A kind heart, listening ear or helping hand are usually available if we can find the courage to simply ask.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones (“Coach Gail Jones”—Your worthiness expert) says:

      Thank you, Lisa: The one “gift” of the pandemic is realizing how much we need each other… and that feelings of grief are NORMAL after a year of so much deprivation. It’s okay to feel all our feelings, and not force ourselves to stay in “elevated emotions” all the time. Blessings, Gail

  • Thomas Ogren says:

    “Reaching out to serve someone else”…yes, that is the key, isn’t it? When we feel down, we can almost always feel better by reaching out and helping others. It is not only good for them, it’s good for us, good for our community, and good for the world. Be kind, be friendly, be supportive, be generous, be human.

    • Gail Kauranen Jones (“Coach Gail Jones”—Your worthiness expert) says:

      Thank you, Tom: I appreciate how you added the global perspective–and of course all the ways we can be more loving humans. Blessings, Gail

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