Hard times are inevitable. Life has no regards for your social calendar, the wedding you’re supposed to be at next week, or the favor you were going to do for your friend the next day. Sometimes, things happen to you all at once and you have little to no control over them. So, what are you to do? Well, there are some important factors to keep in mind when life takes a swing at you.
Not having control does not mean that you are a failure.
As much as we want to believe that we have a handle over our destiny, we really don’t. Blaming yourself for life’s hardships would be like blaming Hurricane Katrina victims for the natural disaster. It sounds crazy! And it is. The sooner you accept that life will throw curveballs, the sooner you’ll be back on your feet. The whole point of a curveball is that it’s unexpected and unpredictable. Don’t beat yourself up for being knocked off your feet.
Dwelling over the “could’ve”s, “would’ve”s, “should’ve”s will only lead to self-loathing.
Maybe what you’re experiencing could have been prevented if you made a different decision (perhaps more obvious now) yesterday, last week, or last year. Or maybe, if someone else had made a different choice, a seemingly more responsible choice, the situation wouldn’t exist. The doctor could have caught the cancer sooner. The other drive shouldn’t have been drunk driving. You could’ve changed your behavior patterns well before it got to this point. However, you’re not in a “choose your own adventure” book and you definitely don’t have the ability to go backwards in time. Hanging out in this zone of self-loathing will only bring you to a new level of rock bottom. Work on accepting the present instead of honing in on the past.
You are not expected to be at 100%.
It’s okay to not be okay. Read that again: It’s okay to not be okay. With everyone having an insider preview at your personal life (read: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) plus the pressure to keep up with appearances, it can seem like there is no other option but to plaster on a smile, even if you’d rather lay in bed and cry. Nobody expects you to deal with hard things at your 100%. Those who do think less of you for showing your perfectly normal human side have their own twisted issues.
It may not end tomorrow, but it won’t last forever.
This hill in your life may have been a long time comin’. It may be a familiar hill that you’ve climbed before or a small one that does have a timestamp on it. Whatever it is, I believe in you and you can tough it out. I’m not going to sugarcoat this, rub your back, and say that it will all be over soon. Honestly, I have no idea if whatever happened will have a light at the end of the tunnel, but I do know that you have two choices when it comes to hardships. Smash into it or adjust and move around. A river did not cut through rock in one swift motion, but rather, consistently persisted over time.
It’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions, repeatedly.
You may feel shock, denial, anger, fear, sadness all in one go. Or many goes. Or in that order. Or in a different order. Just know that whatever negative emotions you are feeling are okay. You’re not wrong and you’re allowed to feel these things. But remember this: don’t take your bad day out on others. At least try, even if you feel like a little torpedo in the water.
Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Speaking of torpedoes in the water, now is not the time to go on a bender of alcohol, promiscuity, and/or recreational drugs. Nor test your prescribed drugs against the legal alcohol limits (I’m looking at you with the anti-depressants). Though these things may bring a temporary high, they’re only going to bring more damage to you in the long run. You definitely will not be at 100% if you’re trying to remember what (or who) happened the night before. Don’t do that to yourself.
Seeking professional help does not mean you’re looney.
It amazes me that this is still a relevant thought in such a progressive culture. Going to a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist does not mean that you should be ostracized and sent home in a straightjacket. It means that you believe in your self-worth and your well-being enough to ask for help. It takes a truly courageous person to set aside their ego to better themselves. A therapist is not there to judge. Sometimes, you may need only a couple sessions. Other times, you may find it helpful to go regularly. Regardless, I recommend finding someone on your insurance plan.
Helpful hint: some of the best therapists I’ve had were through a university (i.e. people going through UCSD psych program).
Gather your A-Team.
I’m hoping you’re starting to realize a pattern that you can’t go at this alone. Technically, you can, but your chances of winding up lonely, frustrated, and sad are pretty high. Your A-Team is your support group. Who do you know will be at your side during this? A reliable family member? A trusted friend? I recommend finding more than one person. This helps keep your A-Team at their best because they’re not carrying a heavy load all on one shoulder and neither are you.
Another important piece to remember when building your squad: Don’t rent your mental space to people who aren’t paying the rent. There are going to be people who will kick you when you’re down. Recognize they’re emotionally handicapped, or twisted at best, and move on. If at all possible, distance yourself from them. It’s already hard enough and you don’t need to make it a Super Challenge by seeing how many insufferable people you can keep around.
Count your blessings.
Ah, yes. There’s always some little masochist that says, “But it could be worse”. And then Life hears that phrase and takes it as a challenge. Let’s not listen to them. Instead of looking at how it could be worse (or better), let’s see things as they are. It can seem incredibly difficult to be grateful for anything during these times. If that’s the case, just start with 3 things that you’re grateful for. It could be your support team. It could be your dog. Hell, it could be that your heart is still beating. That’s valid. Just 3. Do it daily. Things will get better. Pinky promise.
Splurge a little.
Not everyone has bank accounts to be proud of, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself. Life is hard! You’re on the battle grounds. You’re a warrior. You deserve it. Now, I’m talking little splurges (i.e. chocolate, a bath bomb, a funny movie), not huge ones (i.e. new car, boat, etc.). Let’s not fly off the rocker because shit’s hit the fan. Do what you need to do to show yourself some kindness. It’s okay if you need a bit of bribing to get the day going when you’d rather stay in bed.