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Published on July 24, 2019

13 Things to Remember When You Hit the Wall in Life

13 Things to Remember When You Hit the Wall in Life

You think you have it all together, then suddenly one day, you don’t. You think you have the best in front of you, a road you selected with presumably no detours and then suddenly, you hit a wall. It can be discouraging when your best laid plans go awry but that wall is one you can bounce back from.

It can seem impossible to bounce back; it can seem like this dead-end is permanent.

Well, it’s not. It’s time to refocus your ambitions, your love life, your story, whatever ails you and to remake yourself.

You have what it takes inside you. You have everything you need right here, right now, to abandon the path you were on and create a newer, better one.

The light in you is meant to be seen, especially in the dark.

When you hit that wall in life, you need only remember– you have been through things before. You’ve gotten through them. You’ll get through this wall, too. You’ll overcome. You’ll beat the odds. You’ll make it.

When you get there, don’t forget to look back every so often to see how far you’ve come. That’s your Why in the midst of making it through this. You’ve made it before. So you will again.

It isn’t easy. But it can be done. No matter the circumstance, you have once choice in life: how you respond. That has to do with attitude. Greater attitude leads to greater character, meaning you will bounce back better when you take things in stride.

Equip yourself with the following mentalities, and you will be free.

Here are 13 things to remember when you hit the wall in life:

1. All You Need Is Inside You

When you are recovering from hitting your wall, you have to remember that you got yourself this far already. Everything you need to move forward, the drive, the resilience, the will, is already inside you. You have the tools, the ability and the power to get through that wall to the other side.

When you look within, you can realize your self-worth. The outside world may disappoint us or let us down, but when you look to your own self for strength, there is nothing that you can’t do or accomplish or recover from.

2. Your Story Isn’t Over

Hitting a wall can feel like the end of life as you know it, and it may very well be. But just because one chapter of your life is coming to an end doesn’t mean your story is ending.

What feels like a dead end is actually a new beginning. You have to adapt it to your story — the story you are telling yourself in order to get through difficulties ahead; the story of you. You can’t turn back. You can’t pack up and just call it quits. You have to still find a way to move forward. It can be with the simple thought: “This doesn’t end here.”

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And it doesn’t. It won’t. Not if you don’t let it.

Your story will keep going; in fact, it’s meant to. All you have to do is live it. You won’t love every second of it but in the end, you will have told it your way.

3. Today Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

You can find what you need in the mentality to start over every day. Today is that day, the day you figure out what is most important to you. You find out how strong you really can be. You learn from the lessons of the detour or dead-end and, begin again.

Appreciation of what you still have and can offer will keep you from feeling like a failure. Appreciate how far you’ve come already. See what is still left and what you can do.

You’re still alive. You’re still breathing. Sometimes, that’s all we’ve got, and sometimes, that’s all we need.

4. Just Show Up

You’re not always going to be motivated to move past the wall, and you’re not always going to want to put your best efforts into a day. And that’s okay, as long as you show up.

If you have no energy to solve the problem, just show up, even if you don’t know how it’s going to end. We don’t have to know every outcome in order to start solving problems.

So, just show up. Just be there. Don’t expect any answers or insights. Don’t expect to see what the future holds. One thing is for sure — there will always be obstacles but, so will be opportunities. You just need to show up in order to find them.

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

5. Find Your Fire

What ignites your soul? You need to harness that. Find your fire when you hit the wall. Burn right through it.

Steve Jobs once gave a commencement speech at Stanford,[1] where he discussed “connecting the dots.” With each flame or passion for life, you begin to connect the dots. You start to discover what makes you tick, what moves you, especially in times where you feel you have nothing left.

He says that when you follow your heart and intuition, you “somehow already know what you want truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

What sets you on fire? What can’t you live without doing, being or loving?

6. Pave the Way

You might have hit the wall, but somehow, somewhere, someone already paved the way for you to get as far as you have. And maybe, you’re paving the way for someone else.

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Find out who has accomplished what you are trying to do. Or who has opened doors to getting there. Realize you are next in line.

You only need to realize that you are never alone. Great men and women have come before you. You just need to see them, to hear their voices, to find their strengths and utilize it for your own path.

7. Be Humbled

Be humbled by life’s twists and turns. You may think you have it all, then one day, you do not. It keeps us from taking it all for granted.

You may lose what you think you’re supposed to become, but you’ll never lose what you’ve already done. Instead of getting angry, get humbled. See the world a whole new way. You weren’t meant for that path, so instead of turning around, turn it around.

This one isn’t the easiest, because we want to feel capable of everything at all times. We want to soar with the wind beneath our wings. But it is finding out you can fail that you also find you have the power to start again. In failure, we find our truth, what truly defines us. Everything else is icing on the cake.

So, be humbled. Be self disciplined. Be loyal to this life. When you hit the wall, be humbled.

It is not easy, but it is worth it.

8. Start Again

Don’t waste this time wallowing in self pity. It’s time to start again when you hit the wall. You can only do so much while dragging your feet with your head down. You need to look up, stand tall, stand proud — proud of the chance to start again.

You don’t measure your success by how easy the path was. It was how you manoeuvred through things you needed to overcome. If everything came easy to you, you’d miss out on the meaning of it all. And that is a far greater loss.

Your day is here for renewal, for becoming who you need to be. Life will change, that’s its constant, and so will you. If you stayed the same all your life, you would never grow. You need growth in order to change and be changed.

Be open to renewal, for the rest to come naturally and focus on the greatest and most important change of all, the goodness of you finding an opportunity in this obstacle.

You don’t need much other than that. You may think you do, but you are free when you acknowledge life’s simplicities and all their worth.

9 Stay Positive

It makes sense to become negative in the face of negativity. It feels natural to want to become defeated and depressed. But you’re only sabotaging yourself.

“Change your thoughts, change your life.”– Wayne Dyer

Every day, make a gratitude list. Say daily mantras in order to make peace with yourself.

When you look around you, you’ll want to think about the negative. Instead, train your mind to look for the positive. Repeat the positive that you find over and over again until it becomes natural to see it.

Why does this work? Some could say the universe, some could say we change our brains in the habits we form, etc. but ultimately, it’s about recognizing that not everything is what it seems. The brain automatically wants to pinpoint the negative. You can reprogram that by simply believing. Believe in the good. See the good. That’s how it works. It’s always been there. You just have to look.

10. Take Deep Breaths

Just because the walls in life can be opportunities for growth and new direction, that doesn’t mean they aren’t stressful. If you’ve hit a wall, you’re likely facing some hard times. It’s important to make time for self care. Take it easy while you recover. Relax, refocus, and breath. Deep breaths. Focus on the negative leaving with your exhale, and focus on the positive returning on the inhale.

Meditate on what matters. According to Meditation 101,[2] observe thoughts, do not judge them in mindfulness meditations. That way you can focus on your breath.

An example of a meditation you can do is Mimi Page “Reflection”:

There are a ton out there!

Meditation can happen anywhere, anytime. It can be while stuck in traffic. It can be while waiting in line at the grocery store. Its’ not just a practice. It’s a mentality. One that can make all the difference.

11. Change Your Life

It’s time to learn that things aren’t working. So, what do you do? Stand there and stare at them? No, you make them move. You change your life. You change what isn’t working to make what is right come together. You only need to start with the small things and gradually tackle bigger things.

All you need is inside you, remember? And all you need is to find your fire, your passions, to connect the dots.

Don’t be a passive spectator in your life. Get proactive. Go for the win. When you hit the wall, you can learn how to climb over it. Dig your feet in and start to climb. Use whatever ledges you can find. Use what you have to pick yourself up.

That’s being resourceful.

That’s being resilient.

That’s doing what is right.

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12. Help Others Along the Way

There’s nothing more rewarding than to help someone else with something we have struggled with.

What you give, you get back ten fold. It gives you a reason to right the wrongs in your life. It gives you a reason to turn the page to starting living the next chapter.

When you help others, you become less afraid of the obstacle in front of you. You remember that you’re not alone. You’re alive, and that life is worth it. Others will inspire you with their own willpower, their own story. When you reach out and help someone, you make a difference. That means you have not been defeated yet. That means you must not give up.

Helping others is recognizing a universal truth — we all deserve love and light. You deserve to know what it’s like to have recognition, too. When you help others along the way, you realize this:

“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” — Etienne de Grellet

13. Bounce Back

According to Dysheada Rheed,[3] resilience is the act of ‘bouncing back’ or resisting to cracking under pressure.

There’s no going back. You’ve come this far, too far, to just give up. It’s time to bounce back.

Furthermore, resilience is driven by two things:

  • a strong why
  • the ability to adapt

When you have a strong why, you are able to bounce back from the present problem. It does not mean you solve everything. In fact, it may mean you overcome simply because you keep going due to this why. For example, Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor, has said that if you have a strong enough why, you can “overcome any how.”

When you are adaptable, you realize you can find gratitude in any situation. This is key to bouncing back when you hit the wall. You discover that you can not only face something, you can learn to work with it rather than against it.

A great analogy is when one is stuck in a current, they should not start fighting against the current. They should go with the flow. This is how to surpass one’s circumstances and ensure survival.

Final Thoughts

You can be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do and love whoever and whatever you want to love. It’s time to be restored in all you are meant to be. It’s time to bounce back. It’s time to just be. Just trust. And you’ll find yourself on the other side of that wall, looking back thinking “I did that, that was me.”

You’ll get through it. I know you will.

Good luck.

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More About Getting Through Tough Times

Featured photo credit: Piotr Chrobot via unsplash.com

Reference

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Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist who promotes the end of stigma for mental health.

13 Things to Remember When You Hit the Wall in Life How to Practice Self Forgiveness and Move on with Joy How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

Why Am I Not Happy? 5 Steps to Figure Out the Reason

Why Am I Not Happy? 5 Steps to Figure Out the Reason

In our diverse world, where everyone wants to stand out from the crowd and has their own opinions just about everything, there is a rather universal idea we all – regardless of age, race, location, gender — embrace…

We all want to be happy.

We want to feel that we matter, are loved, appreciated, problem-free, care-free, and financially secure. And this has become one of the most obsessive quests of our society—to be happy, at all cost, by all means.

Happiness has undisputed benefits—supported by countless studies—to about pretty much everything in our lives—from our mental or physical state, to careers, relationships, finances.

Although the self-help industry is still having a sunshine moment with its advice on how to get to this coveted state, no one (that I’m aware of) has come up with The Magic Potion—that one thing or action or thought—that can make us all content and whole for good.

Of course, we also all are knowledgeable enough to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. And that it’s often a combination of things that each one of us should intentionally do daily in order to reach that enchanted place where everything is intensely bright and upbeat.

The reason that there are multiple antidotes to feeling gloomy is that there may be a million different explanations and their nuances of why someone is unhappy. It’s pretty much a different cause, path and experience for everyone.

Top this with the “hedonic treadmill” phenomenon[1] —and you end up with an incessant (and rather tiring) pursuit of something that, quite frankly, no one has been able to define in concreate measurable terms.

The second problem with happiness is that all of us become so hung up on the goal itself—that utopian state that we want to get to “one day.”

Naturally, you can spend your whole life waiting for happiness to finally come knocking on your door, hoping, anticipating, existing in perpetual discontent—and the moment may never come.

And then, looking back, you may ask yourself—was I truly that miserable or did I fall a victim of the happiness craze?

That is—how can you know if you are really unhappy, if happiness means different things for everyone, it’s impossible to measure directly, and it’s rather fleeting?

So, let’s start from the beginning— and examine the cause of why you’re unhappy, the symptoms and the treatment.

Symptoms of Unhappiness

According to the wellness site Mind Body Green, some of the most common manifestations you are not happy are:[2]

  • Feeling like you’re not as good as other people
  • Feeling like a victim of circumstances that are beyond your control
  • Feeling like your daily life is meaningless and task-driven
  • Feeling helpless, hopeless, or pessimistic
  • Protecting your heart with steel walls
  • Trying to fit in and belong, but rarely feel like you do
  • Feeling beaten down by the challenges you face in life
  • Feeling depressed, anxious, or chronically worried
  • Feeling like you’re not appreciated enough

If this sounds like you, on a regular day, then you are not a happy fella, my friend.

Reasons for Feeling Unhappy

The most important indication that things are not great (at least in your mind) is the sense of “something missing.” You may not know what it is, but you feel hollow, incomplete. And you are aware that something needs to happen to make you come alive again.

Of course, finding the reason for your woes is vital to prescribing (to yourself) the right steps to make it all better.

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So, here are some of the most common reasons why you may feel heavy-hearted, or “like the joy has been sucked out of my life.”

Lack of Meaning

Everyone who’s someone in the happiness-advice trade will tell you that this is one of the main causes (of not THE biggest) of feeling blah. Especially relevant for our professional lives, lack of significance can be a dream-downer.

An excellent piece in the New York Times talks about Harvard graduates who make $1.2 million a year in salary, but still feeling miserable and trapped in what they describe as “wasting my life” existence.[3]

Simply put—you may feel unhappy because you need the “Why” in your life, as I also wrote in a previous post How to Get Unstuck in Life and Live a More Fulfilling Life.

Happiness Disruptors

Even perceived problems can feel quite real to many of us. Undeniably, though, any personal, financial, career, physical complications can make your happiness aspirations plummet.

The constellation of all the issues or walls you can run into can be quite vast. For instance, you don’t like the way you look, you don’t make enough money, don’t have any friends or significant other, your health is fragile.

All these can be serious impediments to an undisturbed-joyfulness type of life.

Lack of Self-Esteem and Self-Respect

Few years ago (2003), a paper by the psychologist Roy Baumeister rocked the science world. Titled “Does High Self-Esteem Cause Better Performance, Interpersonal Success, Happiness, or Healthier Lifestyles?” it presented the idea (supported by research) that self-esteem and happiness are linked.[4]

Specifically, high self-esteem leads to greater happiness.

In addition, according to the famous American author and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, the main reason people are unhappy is because they lack self-respect—that is, they value others’ opinions above their own. Of course, it makes sense—and surely, it rings true with many of us too.

Personality

Linked to the above is another hindrance to becoming relentlessly upbeat, which may prove slightly challenging to overcome, if even possible—your personality.

Of course, not per the self-help industry which thrives on the assumption that you can, with your own willpower, become a different person altogether. Namely—a much better version of the current you.

But what the Wise Men also tell us is that you are either born to be a silver-lining kind of person or you are not.

You can, of course, work on yourself to start seeing the glass half-full (vs half-empty). But you may never reach the gregariousness of someone who is just born with a more care-free temperament.

Unreasonably High Expectations

Having high expectations of yourself can be beneficial, according to research.[5] It leads to higher performance—a phenomenon called the Pygmalion effect.

Having too high expectations of yourself, though, may be counter-productive. You can run into all slew of mental health issues—depression, self-sabotaging, self-punishment, etc. And it can spill over all areas of your life.

It’s certainly a case for future investigation.

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It will take perhaps at least few articles to list all the reasons why we can feel unhappy (a book even!).

So, some of the other causes of being disgruntled with your life can be: long hours at work, “always-on” culture bread by the internet, increased screen time,[6] or boredom with one’s life (i.e. lack of excitement).

Addiction to Unhappiness

Apparently, you can also develop an addiction to unhappiness[7] —that is, some people like negative feelings and are “happy to be unhappy.” Rather disturbing, indeed.

Unexplainable Reasons

Or, sometimes, you just can’t put your finger on one thing, or on anything, for this matter—you don’t know for sure what makes you feel unhappy, nor what will make you happy. It feels like it’s everything—your whole life is a mess.

But that’s not the end of the story. The most important questions you should be asking yourself are:

Why? What’s the cause of my unhappiness?

Because you can’t fix it when you don’t know what’s broken, right?

5 Steps You Can Take to Figure Out The Why

So, if you tick most of the symptoms above, it’s very likely that you are not living in Dream-land right now.

Here is my advice on how to find your lumps in the batter.

1. Mull over What “Happy” Means to You

Happiness can take different shapes—hedonic pleasure, life satisfaction, desire fulfillment.[8] All of these—separately or together—can deliver to us sprinkles of joy.

And because our lives are so diverse, the above will translate into different pursuits for each one of us.

For instance, my hedonic weekend happiness means reading a book or writing, while for someone else—it’s socializing, taking a walk, or going on a shopping spree at the mall.

Or, my life satisfaction can be to have a big family and leave a mark in the world this way. For others, it may be going after fame and fortunes. But either way, don’t fall for the society’s “narrative traps”[9]—that a bigger pay check, house, a certain job, person, etc. will give you a never-ending stream of bliss. It won’t, science confirms over and over.

So, once you know what your happiness vision board looks like, you will have a better idea of what’s “missing” in your life.

2. Re-Visit Your Expectations

As I already mentioned, unreasonable expectations you or others have set for yourself can be deterring you from feeling gleeful.

For one thing, aspirations often can become outdated. What you wanted ten or five years ago (or even six months ago) may not be relevant to your situation today and will need to be filed into a mental cabinet.

Another issue is that our culture is putting an exponential pressure on all of us to perform more and better, to try and stretch the 24-hours a day into 30, to chase kudos and recognition. Any outcome that has earned less than the gold is punishable by exclusion for the cool crowd, by receiving less in perks, bonuses, and appreciation even.

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As a result, anxiety, depression and all their dark friends start creeping into our minds and tint everything else that may be giving us joy and satisfaction.

So, taking periodic audit of your expectations—their validity and importance place on your happiness list, is pivotal to stopping unhappiness spread into your life.

3. Examine Your Way of Thinking

At the heart of the so-called Rational Emotive Behavior Theory (REBT),[10] which was established by the American psychologist Albert Ellis in 1956, is the idea that it’s never the actual event that upsets us.It’s our interpretation and thoughts about it. By inference, changing our thoughts will reduce (and hopefully remove altogether) our anxiety.

Let’s take this a stretch further. Positive (not delusional) thinking has been long proclaimed to be a winner when it comes to mental health. If you find yourself going down the spiral of negative inner dialogue, you must stop yourself immediately. It’s unhappiness trap.

But it’s not easy-breezy, of course, to do such conscious policing all the time. It can become a habit, though, psychologists tell us. We can teach ourselves to quell negativity, and there are many things that can be done: How to Have Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy

And don’t forget to be grateful. It’s the best happiness shot there is.

4. The Good Old Pros and Cons

Although it may appear to be a less fascinating way to figure out whether you are unhappy or not, the pros-and-cons list has been around for a long time—and it’s still an excellent tool to let you examine things closely, evaluate alternatives and come to satisfactory answers.[11]

Interestingly, as history tells us, this invention is credited to Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century. Notorious for his productivity, he applied the pros-cons exercise to almost everything in his life.

The beauty of the method lies in its simplicity too. So, go back to the drawing board and start penciling down the things that you like and don’t like (make you unhappy) about your life, and the things that you know with certainty to make you happy today.

Of the “things-that-make me-unhappy-about-my-life” subset, have a think what you can do to move these along the continuum—to the brighter side.

You may be surprised to discover that you have much greater say in the building of your own happiness than chance, circumstances or others.

5. Mental Cleansing

Mental health is in the limelight quite often these days. And rightly so.

The way we care about our bodies and minds directly links to many of our life outcomes.

Mental clutter can become a well-being stumbling block. Overthinking, old grudges, past events, can all make it very challenging to feel elevated and content.

Doing a mental cleanse once a month can be the remedy to set yourself on the path to happiness recovery.

Pay a visit to the past to confront your fears, get rid of the people who bring you down, free yourself from any emotional baggage. It will help you silence the bully in your head.

Take a periodic stock of all the things that make you anxious and declutter. Why hold on to the things that you know to bring you grief anyway?

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Unless you are one of those unhappiness addicts I mentioned above (which calls for a more radical intervention), carrying emotional baggage without doing anything to unload it, is a anti-glee behavior.

Bonus Advice

Finding our Achilles’ heel of happiness can sometimes be a tall order. It takes time, conscious efforts and an honest desire to make it better. It also alludes that we are ready to take the plunge into the self-help territory and take actual steps to improve our situation.

But it’s not a lost cause, the research tells us. It’s possible to make yourself happy on a consistent basis.

Here are few universal suggestions:

One of the things you can do is to inject some meaning back in your life. And the best way to go about this is to flip the narrative. Case in point—the story of John F Kennedy’s visit to NASA in 1962. He ran into a janitor and when asked him what he was doing, he replied: “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

The happiness guru Gretchen Rubin tells us that there are two major path that lead a more fulfilling life:[12]

One way is through our relationships—having strong bonds and feeling that we belong.

The other route is through developing better self-knowledge—i.e. what things make us us, or glad, or sad. And base our way of living on our own values and goals, not others’.

The feeling that we are not making progress is a definite joy crusher. We should compare wisely, find our passions, and diversify our experiences. These are not magic pills but more so opportunities to make our time here worthwhile and fulfilling.

Final Thoughts

Happiness is notoriously hard to pin down.

There is no one definition of contentment, nor one way to ‘fix’ it. It’s one of those things that you can’t quantify and it’s idiosyncratic.

More and more we hear a murmur from the science world that perhaps the best way to happiness is acceptance—of your failings and shortcomings, of the fact that life is imperfect.

Knowing what makes us disgruntled is, of course, needed to find the right remedy for each one of us. Feeling constantly unhappy is not good and necessitates closer examination.

Finally, beware of the narrative trap that if you are unhappy, there is something wrong with you. It may be normal, for a while at least. Otherwise, how would you appreciate the highlight moments of your life if you don’t see them against the backdrop of the gloomy times?

Or, as the great singer Leonard Cohen tells us:

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

More About Staying Happy

Featured photo credit: Andrew Le via unsplash.com

Reference

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