Life can be damn hard sometimes. And sometimes it can be so hard that it makes getting on with your life practically impossible, and could potentially make things worse or make the rough patch last longer than you’d want it to.
I’ve written several times about the hard times I’ve had over the past couple years, especially since my redundancy back in April 2012. And despite my best intentions or actions, things have continued to be something of a roller-coaster in my life and it’s been difficult to get past the problems to move forward to something more positive.
Although I’ve recently lost the job I’d finally found after being unemployed for a year (previous post) and I find myself back in the same situation I was in last year, I’ve been fairly calm and focused about moving forward and putting this behind me.
I haven’t been wallowing in self-pity or allowing myself to get depressed about the whole thing (surprisingly). Instead I’ve been determined to find a job quickly to ensure other parts of my life don’t go downhill as well (long story that I can’t write about here..).
Awhile back I’d found an article over on Marc and Angel Hack Life, an amazing website/blog that shares inspirational advice and practical tips for life, about things NOT to do when you’re going through a rough patch (click the link at the bottom for the original article).
In the end, it’s all about finding a way to cope with the difficult stuff that come along in your life, and move yourself towards where you want your life to go. Here are a few tips, and my interpretation of them.
1. Be honest with yourself.
You know what they say, denial is not just a river in Eqypt (get it? ‘De-Nile’? OK, bad pun..). Trying to ignore the situation or not facing the facts of what has happened and what brought you to that point will only make things worse. You cannot hide from the truth as by lying to yourself, you’re only going to make things worse in the long run.
Be truthful with yourself. Get your head out of the sand. Be honest about how you got to where you are, what the cause of the situation is, and where you can go from it. Learning from bad experiences or mistakes is what makes us stronger as we move forward in life.
2. Wishing the pain away.
To be fair, nobody truly wants to constantly feel like they’re in pain. Well, unless you’re a masochist, but that’s an entirely different thing.
We all have painful moments in our lives, in a variety of different ways, but pain can be a good thing. It at least reminds you that you’re still alive, that you’re still getting through the days and moving towards the future. It reminds you that you care and have feelings, that you have a desire for something more in your life, or even the pain of knowing that instance of happiness you’re feeling at the moment cannot last forever. There are endless possibilities ahead of you, you just need to reach for them.
3. Holding onto the past.
We all do it without realising it – recounting some dramatic story from our past over and over again, sometimes even hypothesising that one specific incident is why our life has turned out the way it has. We focus all our energies on recounting and re-examining something that happened possibly years prior, instead of focusing on the present and looking towards the future.
We all need to start letting go of our pasts as a way to move forward in life, because if we don’t, we may start missing out on opportunities that could be exactly what we’re waiting for. It’s not an easy thing to do, but if you continue to re-enact behaviours from the past, then you’ll continue to have those incidents that bring you down. Live in the NOW.
4. Holding on to who you were before the storm.
Part of going through hard times is that it can change you, hopefully for the better. Unfortunately, too many people are so focused on who they used to be or how a certain part of their life (like a job) formed a large portion of their own vision of themselves.
This isn’t healthy, and can ultimately lead to you feeling resentful that those parts of your life are over, or could make it even harder to move forward towards something equally terrific. Or hopefully even better.
We need to be willing to see ourselves for who we are, broken pieces and all, and recall the good parts of ourselves to utilise them in the future. Let go of who you used to be, good or bad, so you can become who you are right now. Struggles are part of our lives, and fighting past them is what makes us grow as people.
5. Over-thinking can make things worse.
As discussed in the post ‘7 Things Over-thinkers Do‘, when you over-think a problem, it can lead to needless worries or negative thinking that can easily spiral out of control. Which could lead you further down, possibly into an unnecessary and preventable depression.
Instead it’s always better to approach change and hard situations with a positive attitude, while working towards a change for the better. We’ve all heard and said it a million times – if you don’t like something in your life, then change it. And if you can’t change it, then change how you perceive or think about it. Only you can choose to be happy or miserable in your life.
6. Just SMILE dammit!
Too often when life is getting us down, we go stomping around with a grim look on our faces, even when trying to have some fun. There’s no rule that if life is kicking your ass right now that you can’t smile or have a laugh once in awhile.
In fact, it can sometimes be much healthier to deal with life’s burdens with a sense of humour, and smile your way through all the bad times. Once you’re through, you’ll feel better about it all, and perhaps it’ll give you a better perspective on the challenges thrown your way.
7. Be your own drummer.
You know the cliché – what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. And it’s actually true. You must endure through the hard times to get to the good times, and by enduring those periods it’ll make the good times all the so much sweeter. Try not to focus too much on where you are now, but instead look towards what may be in the future.
Basically don’t give up or give in to the troubles you’re going through at the moment, or thinking there’s no hope to change what already is. Be willing to do things your way, try something completely different or unexpected, and be bold enough to live your life without any apologies or regrets.
And who gives a damn what anyone else may think – it’s your life, just go out and live it.
8. Stop holding onto the present.
Sometimes the feeling of not knowing where you’re going next can be constricting. At some point, especially when you’re going through some bad times, you need to just let go of any preconceived ideas of where you think your life is going and let it take you where you need to go.
Letting go and allowing yourself to enjoy the feeling of freedom from where you were before can be difficult. But it can be freeing and exhilarating to realise you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and that you can’t control some situations. You just need to let them happen.
9. Don’t get disheartened.
Just like over-thinking above, it’s quite easy to focus on the negative things occurring in your life, especially during a bad patch, and missing out on the positives around you. When something negative comes into your life, don’t allow yourself to get disheartened, but instead choose to learn from it and use the experience as a way to work towards something better.
Choose to be positive about your life, about where your life is going, and look towards the new adventures that are awaiting you. When you obsess over the negative stuff, it can seep into other parts of your life. And when you focus on how shit your life is and how hard it’s going to be to improve in the future, it can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Smile, laugh, have fun with your friends or family, and just enjoy life for what it is – an adventure.
This post was inspired by 9 Things to Stop Doing During Hard Times at Marc and Angel Hack Life.