Finding Light in Dark Moments: Embracing Contrast for Personal Growth

If you’re feeling the weight of hard times and struggling to cope, then you are not alone! The concept of contrast and the power it holds has been a game-changer for many, including Andrew and Cat. They discuss embracing contrast and its role in personal growth, resilience, and understanding the ebb and flow of life. Listen in for some fresh perspective and tools for navigating tough moments.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Embracing Life’s Contrasts: Discover how understanding the power of contrast can lead to personal growth and resilience.
  • Harnessing Contrast for Growth: Learn how embracing life’s contrasts can fuel your personal development journey.
  • Coping with Adversity: Explore effective ways to navigate and cope with hard times using the power of contrast.
  • Appreciating Happiness: Uncover the role of sadness in cultivating a deeper appreciation for happiness and joy in life.
  • Mastering Emotional Processing: Explore techniques for effectively feeling and processing emotions to foster personal growth and resilience.

00:00:00 - Andrew Dewar

In today's episode, we're setting the intention to help you understand the power of contrast so that it might help you in those hard times. Welcome to the five year you podcast, a show dedicated to helping you become the best version of yourself one day at a time. I'm Andrew.

00:00:17 - Catherine Collins

And I'm Cat. And we promise to keep it raw, real, and relatable.

00:00:23 - Andrew Dewar

Are you ready to grow? This podcast is intended to entertain, educate, and inspire you on a personal journey towards your best self. We are in no position to give advice and our hot messes on the best of our days. Clearly, we're in no position to offer health or medical advice or really any life advice, but we want to entertain you. Just a reminder, this is not a replacement for proper medical care or therapy. If you are struggling, please seek help from a qualified health professional. Let's jump in. Hello. Today's episode is called the Power of Contrast, and it's all about what we can do in those terrible moments we find ourselves in to start embracing contrast and finding our way to a higher vibration, a higher energy point when the times get tough.

00:01:12 - Catherine Collins

Yeah. And I'm really glad that you introduced me to this concept. Over the years, you have taught me a lot of things that have helped me a great deal. But contrast, the concept of contrast and the awareness that it's brought is one of the biggest game changers that I've had in my personal growth journey.

00:01:34 - Andrew Dewar

That's a pretty big statement. So you're welcome, I guess.

00:01:39 - Catherine Collins

Yeah. Thank you.

00:01:40 - Andrew Dewar

You owe me. I mean, no, I'm just.

00:01:43 - Catherine Collins

Too bad.

00:01:45 - Andrew Dewar

Too bad. Okay. All right. To me, one of the things I think about a lot is duality. Up and down, left and right, dark and light, all that stuff. And how one can't exist without the other. Right? Up only exists because there's down. Otherwise it just wouldn't be. So that started to get me thinking of, why am I always appreciating the happy times where a sad time I should probably be appreciating in its own way, because there is this other part that is going to make that next happy moment so much better. It can be transformative when you start having the moments. I'm going to preface this before we go in. This doesn't make the hard moments any harder. I find, like, when I get sad, I'm still feeling sad, and it can be gut wrenching. But the difference with contrast is I know that I'm going to be able to experience a higher emotion, a higher joy, emotion, love, whatever emotion that is, from experiencing that low and I had never thought of it in those terms, but once I did, it changed the game on a lot of levels for me.

00:03:05 - Catherine Collins

Yeah. I think people often wonder, why is there so much sadness in the world? Why can't we just be happy all the time? Why can't I appreciate things? Or why can't my kids be appreciative and well behaved all the time? But the truth is, we wouldn't know what a happy moment is without a sad moment. We wouldn't know joy without pain. We wouldn't know to cherish the little snuggly moments with our kids and the hugs and the love and the good times if there were tough times in there as well. Contrast is the reason that we even know there is such a thing as being happy.

00:03:52 - Andrew Dewar

Yeah, it's wild when you think of it like that. I was reading a book because I read meaning I listen.

00:04:02 - Catherine Collins

We do love our audiobooks here.

00:04:05 - Andrew Dewar

Yes, we do. And it was coming in the concept that our souls come from a place that is of pure love, and they come here to experience the contrast. And I'm not sure if that's where I first tripped on this idea or if it just kind of reinforced it, but it kind of gave me that. I don't profess to know all the inner workings of the universe. I know 99.9% of them clearly. But there's just that little part that I haven't figured out. I'm working on it. No, it's more like I don't understand anything about anything. And I like to find concepts that I can kind of go, okay, that makes sense to me. And it might not make sense to anyone else in the world, but I can fit that into the framework that is Andrew and make it work. So when something like, I hear something like that, it just kind of helps. It's like, okay, so if my soul, which I believe I have, is eternal and it came from this place of pure love, and it's come here to experience the on and the off, the light and the dark, the up and the down, I can then appreciate that this is something that maybe my soul just needed to go through. I needed to go through the sad moment. I needed to go through the harm. I needed to go through the kindness. When you have those things, I don't know. To me, it's made life a lot easier in those hard moments, and that's why I wanted to share it with you. That's why we wanted to talk about it today.

00:05:29 - Catherine Collins

Yeah. I don't know how else to explain it. But it almost maybe elevates the experience, gets you out of your own head during the hard moments, or it brings you to a different level of understanding, because when you are in the middle of a hard moment, it is so different now that we regularly think about and talk about this idea of contrast, because when things are hard for me, whereas a few years ago, I would just be, like, feeling sorry for myself, like in a victim mindset, sad for days, unable to get out of it. Now I say, okay, clearly I'm having a moment of contrast. What am I supposed to be learning from this experience? What am I supposed to be learning from this sadness? And you can even find it in yourself to have a bit of gratitude for the bad feelings because you're like. Because I am feeling this way, I know what it feels like to be the opposite of this. Can't wait to get back to it, but I'm not going to appreciate it unless I am in this hard feeling right now.

00:06:40 - Andrew Dewar

Yeah, I like that. It's something to aspire to, for sure. I was driving with my daughter last night, and one of the things that we were talking about was contrast because I knew we were going to be recording this. And she observed that when the good things happen to me, they are really good, but when the bad things happen, they're really bad. And I said to her, well, doesn't it kind of feel nice then, when you have a bad moment in the sense that you know there's going to be a better moment? And part of what that does is it takes yourself out of your head for a moment and it only has to be a second just for you to go, oh, look at Andrew. He is having a sad moment. He is crying. He doesn't know the good thing that's going to happen to him yet. That's going to make this bad moment feel so much. It's going to feel so much better because of this bad moment. And when you can get to that, I wouldn't call it your higher self, but kind of like that 100 foot view, you look at things a little bit differently and you go, oh, right, okay, so it's not going to last forever. I think that is one of the biggest things, too, is when you get out of it, you're like, right, I am crying right now. It's going to stop. It might not be in this moment, but I do know that I am not going to have this same feeling all the time, just like when you're happy. I mean, I wish we could all be happy all the time. But that's just not realistic. We're going to have things happen to us. That's why we're here. So when you embrace that part of you, I think it's very. I found it to be life changing. What about you?

00:08:18 - Catherine Collins

It definitely has been life changing. And like we always say, we're not therapists. We just dart out about personal growth.

00:08:28 - Andrew Dewar

And we're hot messes.

00:08:32 - Catherine Collins

Yes, there's a little contrast every now and then. We clean up messiah. Most of the time, pretty much any good therapist will tell you, like, the best thing you can do for your mental health is to actually feel your feelings. You're going through a hard time if you push it down, act like everything's fine, you just power through because you're trying to avoid the bad feeling. That's why a lot of people, I was just talking to my kids about coping skills because they're like, why do people do drugs? And why do people drive drug their lip? So I'm like, well, sometimes people have really big feelings and hard feelings, and that is how they are coping. They are giving themselves a moment to not feel the pain. So I was telling them, that's why I'm trying to teach you good coping skills of we feel our feelings exercise. You can draw, you can watch a show, whatever it is, but we try to find healthy ways to cope with our feelings. But you have to feel them first. Right. And so contrast, knowing that contrast exists, it helps give you this added layer of permission to feel those hard feelings. If you resist it, you resist like, oh, I don't want to cry right now, like, I'm at work, or, I have this big thing tomorrow. My eyes are going to be puffy. But you're just like, you know what? I got to get this out. I got to get this terrible snot cry, miserable thing. I got to get it out of my body, because only then will I be experiencing the half of contrast that I have to go through in order for it to end and to see the other side of it, which are better days ahead.

00:10:09 - Andrew Dewar

Yeah, that's so true. I'm reading a book right now called overcoming intrusive thoughts. It's really good. But the axiom that they say, did I use axiom?

00:10:20 - Catherine Collins

Did I use that word right?

00:10:22 - Andrew Dewar

I think you're doing great. Okay. Is what you resist persists. And I know I was really locked down on my emotions. Like, I was not going to let myself feel anything about anything. Good, bad, whatever. And my bandwidth got so small that I likened it to this. If you could imagine I've kind of locked myself in the bathroom, and I'm holding the door so that this strong emotion, like, let's call it sadness, for lack of a better term, is trying to get in. And I'm pushing it, and I'm pushing it. I'm like, no, I'm just resisting this thing like crazy. When I finally open the door and let it through, it basically flows right through me and down the drain behind me that it's been trying to get through this whole time. But because I have put all my effort and energy and thoughts into not feeling this, it just stuck around. It wasn't going anywhere, and it was manifesting as illness inside of my body at the same time. So that contrast, it can be hard, right? It can be hard to feel the bad feelings. We don't want to. I mean, we're here to grow. So this is one of the things that you can do. One of my friends gave me a great piece of advice. He said, if you're having a hard time, and I'm just going to use the sadness thing because I think for my gender, crying is not really accepted. And we have an episode about that coming out. It's really hard to cry. I still can have moments where it's like, I know I need to, and it just won't come out. So what my friend told me to do, he said, give yourself 15 minutes in a day, close yourself in your room, and you feel the feelings that you've been putting off. So if you need to cry, if you need to punch a pillow, if you need to hit the mattress, if you need to do whatever it is, just feel those feelings so that they are out of you. Because until you feel them, they are staying locked inside your body. It's just not a healthy energy for you.

00:12:28 - Catherine Collins

I think that's really good advice. Like, you can't outrun these feelings. You might think that you're being strong and tough because you are pushing through and doing everything you're supposed to do and making dinner, going to work, taking care of kids. But truth is, you can't outrun the bad feelings. You can try, but eventually, like Andrew said, over time, the feelings build on each other until you start having physical pains and all sorts of things bothering you. Until eventually you get to a point where you have to face them. And so it's a good practice to sort of regularly face them and keep things flowing so you don't get to that point. Right, where it just becomes too much.

00:13:17 - Andrew Dewar

Yeah, exactly. Growth isn't always fun, and easy, but it's doable, and it's doable in small chunks. We're not saying to unpack the whole emotional garage in one night. We're just saying it's okay to cry at the Kleenex commercial that you saw this morning and let that happen or feel the joy that you got from just the sunrise or your kids doing something or somebody. A nice smile that you got from a person. So when you allow yourself to feel those things, it'll start to change. But as always, when you're feeling them, you come back to it and you're going, I'm angry because I was feeling really good. The only reason why you appreciate the quiet so much is because it gets interrupted with loud noise. And the only reason why that might aggravate you is because you're so used to nice and quiet, and then suddenly now loud noise comes and it startles you. Well, that's just an experience. It totally has value that you give to it.

00:14:17 - Catherine Collins

Yeah, no, and we're talking about these very extreme forms of contrast, and we're talking about really sad things because we always just get right to the fields, right to the big things. But even, like, last night, I was talking to my sister and she and I talked for almost an hour on the phone. And I was like, because we were both driving. And I was like, I don't think we've talked this long without any children interrupting us because we're both alive with. I was just like, in years, I think there's never a time when we talk where one of our kids doesn't interrupt us about something. And so in that little moment, I was like, that's pretty nice. We talked going out. For me, that was a moment of contrast. Maybe you're in a new relationship and you realize, like, wow, I am so grateful for this person. And you cherish it so much more because the relationship you were in previously wasn't right for you. Or maybe anyone who has had a grandparent or a parent, something like struggling with memory loss or something, like, right. You appreciate the good days, the moments, know they remember your name and things like that. There's all kinds of examples of ways. Today in Detroit, we're recording this in the wintertime, and we had just this random 40 deg day, and it's been totally gross and snowy. So there's, like, tons of appreciation for today and the weather. And I think the more you look for opportunities of finding the good things, acknowledging that contrast has to exist, and it's just a part of our human experience. The easier it is to cope with the ups and downs that life brings us. And it is a pathway to sort of reaching that point of feeling better and having a more fulfilling life overall.

00:16:06 - Andrew Dewar

Absolutely. First of all, that car example is truly awesome because you went probably for a whole bunch of years with your sister where never interrupted because you guys didn't have kids.

00:16:17 - Catherine Collins

Yeah, she has three kids, I have two, and they're all around the same age. And I'm sure they'll ignore us at some point, but it's a great job. They still want it.

00:16:27 - Andrew Dewar

But for right now, yeah. To have that moment of contrast, you know, you can have it and it's really cool to get to experience. When we're thinking of these contrast moments, we usually focus on the bad ones. At no time do I ever go, oh, I'm really happy right now. Can't wait for the bad thing to happen. So I will challenge you out there. It really is. Right. Cat knows I don't watch the news because the news is like 0.1% of everything that happens in the world. And a lot of the stuff that happens is really good, but we're not drawn to that as in media culture. So what I would say is that the reason why the contrast, the bad stuff sticks out when you stubbed your toe and you weren't paying attention to how good that toe felt 10 seconds before, because it's just normal. And suddenly the other nine toes still feel great, but that one toe doesn't. When you have these little moments, understand that it's the break in your normal. And your normal is probably really good, you just haven't acknowledged it because maybe it doesn't get interrupted from those things. And if you're having a hard time, because I know we've all gone through those. When you have those hard times, those hard chapters of your life, because I know I'm slowly exiting a hard chapter of my life with this fresh start and new beginning. And one of the things I told myself, and as you're listening to this, this directly impacts you. When I started to go through things, the hard things, the things that got me on the ground crying for days at a time that I couldn't get up, what helped me was the gratitude of knowing that what I was going through was going to be able to help you listening right now, to know that I had to go through these harsh times and go through the bad moments because I was going to be more empathetic to you. And I can serve you better in these moments rather than come from a place of, well, just smile more. That doesn't always work.

00:18:42 - Catherine Collins

It doesn't work?

00:18:44 - Andrew Dewar

No, it doesn't. But until you go through those hard times, you're going to have a new set of tools for handling them. You're going to have a better understanding of the world around you. And when people are going through stuff, I can't tell you how many times before I had these hard moments where I'm like, just don't think about it. That's the worst advice I can ever give anyone. And to everybody listening, all my friends, all three of you, if I ever gave you that advice, I am so sorry, because it doesn't work. Just don't think about it as just resisting the thought, which is going to make it persist.

00:19:20 - Catherine Collins

And I will say, if you are at a point, if you're going through something like really gnarly or you're around people maybe who aren't accepting of a display of feelings, we're super pro therapy over here, and there's a lot of different types of therapy, and there's many different ways to afford it. There's lots of people that offer therapy on a sliding scale. There's sometimes a therapy that insurance covers if you're a student. A lot of universities have therapy as part of your program. Those spaces are sacred spaces where you can feel your feelings without judgment and somebody can walk you through sort of a path to take if you're going through something or you've decided it's time to unpack some long held pain that you're ready to release. So I did want to at least mention that and say that and be a part of our generation who is normalizing mental health and mental health care.

00:20:23 - Andrew Dewar

I think it's amazing. Thank you for bringing that up too, Cat. I think it's amazing that we are embracing this mental health aspect right now as a society because I was definitely pre pandemic stuff. I was definitely part of the problem, or maybe not part of the problem so much as not part of the solution. There's a lot of tools out there that can help you with smaller things, but you have to find the thing that works best for you. And therapy has worked for us. Medication, sometimes that serves as a really good bridge to kind of get you to the next stop, and it's very good thing to do if that's your path. Nobody knows what the right thing for you is except for you. So when you go talk to a medical professional or a therapist, they'll have suggestions for you. And we all have suffered at different points in life, but we've all had some really great points, and I don't want us to kind of get stuck on all the negative stuff, but I also don't want to gloss over it and go, just smile.

00:21:31 - Catherine Collins

The point of the episode was to give you tools or give you some fresh ideas on ways to reframe some of the negative experiences. By viewing them through the lens of contrast, it helps you gain an understanding as to why this is a part of the human experience and the role that it plays. And so sometimes that knowledge makes going through it a little bit easier, and that's why we'll want to share it with you today.

00:22:01 - Andrew Dewar

Yeah. Again, it's just another tool in the toolkit to help you through tricky moments. And if we're going through these hard moments and we have things that help us, we're going to share them with you, because anything to help lighten the load is a good thing in my mind.

00:22:17 - Catherine Collins

I agree.

00:22:19 - Andrew Dewar

Okay, so now it's time for our glimmers. A glimmer is something that lights us up, something that's making us happy. Cat, what's your glimmer for this episode?

00:22:30 - Catherine Collins

I am in deep on a beauty product. I hope it's okay to bring it up, because I know we are not experts in fashion and beauty. However, I've been using something a lot lately that is saving me a lot of time, and I'm all on the heatless curls bandwagon, y'all. It is basically this squishy rod, I guess, that you put on your head and you wrap your hair around it. You go to sleep. By the time you're done wrapping your hair, you look a little bit like George Washington. However, you don't damage your hair with heat. And when you wake up, you just kind of take the rod out, and then your hair is, like, done for the day, and it makes morning super fast. And there was, like, a good decade in there where I just wore a bun on top of my head every day because I just didn't want to deal with it. And this is sort of helping me, day to day, feel good about myself, have some more good hair days. So if you hair that's long, do you have hair?

00:23:34 - Andrew Dewar

Today's episode brought to you by hair, you have it.

00:23:38 - Catherine Collins

I'm just saying, I don't think heatless curls would work for you. But I was trying to be like, you know, guys can have long hair, too.

00:23:47 - Andrew Dewar

Yeah, fair enough. So, guys, if you want to look like George Washington at night but really nice in the morning, heatless curls. You won't be disappointed.

00:23:57 - Catherine Collins

There, you got it. Top that, Andrew, with your glimmer.

00:24:01 - Andrew Dewar

No, we're not getting off of this just yet. I have one quick question.

00:24:05 - Catherine Collins


00:24:06 - Andrew Dewar

So you have this thing on your head.

00:24:09 - Catherine Collins

Yeah. Think of it like a mini pool noodle.

00:24:12 - Andrew Dewar

Okay, so how do you sleep with a mini pool noodle on your.

00:24:16 - Catherine Collins

It goes around your. Very carefully. It's squishy.

00:24:20 - Andrew Dewar

I have a hard time sleeping with socks on. I can't imagine having something like that.

00:24:24 - Catherine Collins

I definitely have socks on when I sleep, my feet get super cold. But that is something else for another day.

00:24:29 - Andrew Dewar

You find it's easy to sleep.

00:24:31 - Catherine Collins

It's not too bad. It's better than if you're like a millennial kid. If you ever put those little tiny foam rollers in your hair to look like you have, like, curly cues the next day. This is way more comfortable than that. It's basically like, it's a miniature pool noodle, squishy on your head, and you wrap your hair around it, and it makes, like, a little circle on your head, like you're an angel. And then you just go to sleep.

00:24:54 - Andrew Dewar


00:24:55 - Catherine Collins

Just try it. They're expensive. There's also, like, $10 ones on Amazon. You can give it a go.

00:25:03 - Andrew Dewar

Okay. And we can put a link to the one that you got in the show notes for anybody that's interested. My glimmer this week is I've started, like, as you know, really working on good, deep sleep. And so I've got, in past episodes, I've mentioned the blackout curtains, a few other little gadgets. What I've started to do is have, I'm incorporating magnesium into my evening routine. So I have a spray, and magnesium is one of those few things, few minerals that can absorb through your skin, which I didn't know. And there's also, I think it's called calm. Yeah, that's what it is. And you just kind of put a teaspoon in and you have it with some hot water. You can mix it with juice if you want. And I have that, and I have been finding that it just brings all the tension really down. And it's been very nice. So just another little thing to incorporate into my night routine. I also find it's kind of nice to have, like, a hot drink at night.

00:26:04 - Catherine Collins

You're, like, killing it with all this good sleep routines. If only you had long hair, you could add George Washington hair to it. But unfortunately, you'll never know.

00:26:12 - Andrew Dewar

I will work on the hair growing length for George Washington pool noodles. All right. Well, that does it for us this week. Thank you very much for listening. We're so grateful for you. And as always, we're rooting for.