Can Despair be Productive?

Productive Despair

Interesting phrase, isn’t it?
In the last week, I have had a number of clients, and friends, that feel completely overwhelmed. They feel that perhaps things will never improve—how will they ever overcome the patterns of their past, or perhaps a recent loss or challenge?
Whenever I see a theme, like this, emerge, I deeply reflect on what is happening in the collective consciousness, and how I might be in service to the greater issues at hand.
I intended to write about it, this morning. And then, lo and behold, in my in-box, was an interview, with writer Dani Shapiro, that perfectly addressed it.

In it, she referenced the phrase “productive despair”—the despair one feels, that will ultimately launch them to the next point. It is in reference to the creative process, but I feel it resonates to the human process, as well. Shapiro says,

I tell students all the time that there is a kind of despair we feel as writers and artists that is not only useful, but necessary. It’s the second-to-the-last fathom, the murky, dark waters an artist must move through before reaching the very bottom, the place from which she can use all her strength and push up, up, up toward the surface. There’s light up there, but first we have to live in the depths.
As both an artist, and a regular ol’ human, I can relate.

Though, watery Scorpio, that I am, I admit I spent too much of my time living in the depths of the ocean. I have, since, found balance, but I appreciate the lessons of those dark waters. They do have a purpose, in both creative and spiritual growth.

And if we are willing to go there, we will, indeed, find the ocean floor and propel our way back up.

But, in the meantime, there is a whole world of deep sea organisms that we would, otherwise, never meet.

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Susan Shehata

Susan Shehata, also known as The Space Guru™, is a Mentor, Guide and Performing Artist, who specializes in helping people release hidden obstacles. She does that through Space Consultations, Holistic Wellness Services and through Music & Theatre. Though her offerings are varied, the goal of her work is the same: to clear the deep patterns of resistance in people's lives. Susan has been a professional performer for twenty years and a certified wellness professional, focusing on transformational healing and space work, for fifteen years. Her life’s mission is to use her voice as a performer, speaker, writer, healer and mentor to assist in global evolution.


  1. Michele on February 6, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Uggg. I’ve been in a state of overwhelm since I started preparing to move. Now in my new home, the overwhelm continues as I realize with disappointment and, yes, some shame, how much crap I seem to have accumulated again over the past few years. Tucking stuff away in closets and under stairs and the garage made me somewhat oblivious to the shear magnitude of it all – out of sight, out of mind. I do a little every day and hope it won’t take me until 2025 to finish. Your post gives me hope.

    • Susan Shehata on February 6, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      Glad to hear that it gives you hope. A move can definitely stir all that stuff (and those feelings) up! It sounds like you are making daily progress, though. You might consider the upcoming class, as it is a great overview on why we keep stuff—the deeper meanings, how it ties into identity, etc. It’s a great inspiration to determine what stays and what goes.

      • Michele Bergh on February 6, 2018 at 7:38 pm

        I was thinking about that. 🙂

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