Sometimes, things are hard. Whether the challenges are small or big, looming or present, or some stressful combination of all, adversities tend to pile up until we feel overwhelmed.
Get a handle on yourself and your circumstances with these twenty reminders:
1. Accept it.
Things happen, and sometimes they are really, really bad things. Sometimes you will eventually learn “why;” sometimes, you won’t. The faster you can accept that whatever has or is happening, has or is occurring, the faster you can channel your resources toward healing and finding a solution.
2. Know that how you react is what matters.
A quick internet search will turn up dozens of motivational quotations about how it’s the reaction that matters, not the incident. These quotes are correct, and not only because they were written by gurus. You can’t control how other people act, or the current situation, even if you did have control over the process that led you to this point. You can always control how you react. If you have not thought of it in these terms before, there’s good news: it’s never too late to start.
3. Allow these challenges to make you better.
No matter what lies before you, your current challenges present an opportunity to make you better. You have a chance to learn to react with positivity, grace, and creativity; to go through a process that will expand your mind, body, and spirit; and to develop lasting solutions from this new, stronger place that uphold the new, stronger you. Take this opportunity. Take all of these opportunities.
4. Take a breath.
No matter what the circumstance, you have time to take a deep breath, pause, and think calmly about what your next move will be. Even and especially in an emergency, you will be more effective and efficient if you proceed deliberately. In the process of discovering how and why you got to where you currently are, you will likely ask yourself some “big” questions. Schedule and take time to explore and reflect during the healing process. If you neglect this stillness, not only will your solutions be half-baked, but you are more likely to repeat your mistakes.
5. Throw away the clock.
We live in a “quick fix” culture. We expect our problems to be solved overnight. Realize that even if your problems were created seemingly instantly, they may take some time to correct and fix. As you develop plans, be realistic about how long execution and implementation will take, and candidly asses how much change you can make in a given period of time. Are you thousands of dollars in debt? You likely won’t fix that in a month. Faced with a significant health condition? If it took your body years to manifest illness, it will take some time to right the course. Refer to #4, take another deep breath, and give the recovery process time.
6. Nourish yourself.
If you are confronting a challenge that is long-term, or will take time to resolve, it is important to nourish yourself during the recovery process. Eat well, rest, drink water, take breaks to get outside and pursue relaxing activities. Recovery is a journey, and you won’t be fit to trek the entire way unless you take care of yourself. You are your most powerful recovery resource – treat yourself accordingly.
7. Try something new.
You may, or may not, have the coping skills to deal with your current situation. Be proactive in exploring new options. Never tried meditation before? Plop yourself down. Always sneered at yoga? Pull up a mat. Always eat lunch at your desk? Clear 15 minutes to take a walk and get outside. You never know what will help you, until you try it.
8. Draw courage from others.
Spend some time talking to folks you know, seeking out support groups, or spending time online to connect with others in your current circumstance. There is someone out there who has been through what you are currently facing and has come out of it better than alright. Might some of their methods work for you? If not, at the very least their example will serve as a source of inspiration as you face your challenge.
9. Surround yourself with positive people.
Like attracts like, and there is no substitute for surrounding yourself with positive people to buoy your own spirits. They’ve faced their own challenges, too, and they’re just fine. Even if they don’t have solutions, positive people have spirit, and sometimes, that’s just as good.
10. Praise what is going well.
Something in your life is going well. Do you have a beautiful child? Were you able to put food on the table today? Did you see anything that made you smile? Did you make some progress towards your healing goal? Uphold and celebrate every positive thing you can identify in your life, including the progress you make as you overcome your current challenges. There is always something to be grateful for. If you’re alive, there’s energy and space for improvement and change; if you can’t cling to anything else, start with that.
11. Wrangle your emotions.
When the going is tough, you do not have time for grief, sorrow, depression, or wallowing, especially if you are responsible for children, animals, or other souls. Sometimes emotions must be pushed to the side while we buckle down and do what needs to be done. Be tough. Get the job done, and process once you are on safe footing again.
12. Fake it ’til you make it.
Having a hard time figuring out how to act positive when hard things are happening? Go to your mirror. Look yourself in the eye. Smile. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little bit of a grimace – do it. Then paste that look on your face and go about your day. At some point, you won’t be faking it quite as much, and that is called “progress.”
13. Acknowledge that you are responsible for your circumstances.
Time spent blaming others is wasted. You are responsible for your life and the way you live – the good, the bad, the joyful, the challenging. Finding and implementing lasting solutions is up to you, as well. Own it. When you own it, you can control it. When you control it, you can change it.
14. Invest in yourself.
Developing tools for healing and change will likely require an investment in yourself. This investment could be financial, in the form of encouraging and uplifting books, audio tapes, or relaxation tools, or it could be measured in time, such as going to the library to check out a self-help book, then actually reading it. Most likely, the investment is a combination of both, but it’s worth making. Not only will you uncover new tools for success, but your confidence will rise as your psyche responds to the very tangible message that you are worth it.
15. Be gentle.
No matter what happened, no matter how much you believe you should have seen it coming – you didn’t. You did, or did not, do the things that created your present circumstance. Put down the whip of self-flagellation, and commit yourself to making progress and moving forward. If you need help with the concept of self-forgiveness, seek out friends, mentors or counselors, a psychiatrist, or the self-help section of your local library. Forgiveness of oneself is a big undertaking, but a vital one to complete before you can move forward.
16. Recognize patterns.
Are your challenges usually financial in nature? Health-based? Related to a particular emotion that crops up again and again? Spend some time in the self-help section of the library, with a journal, talking to a mentor, or whatever it takes to get some honest self-reflection accomplished. What part of your challenges can you control and head off before they grow? If you’re always late, for instance, and this is hurting you professionally, what processes can you put in place in your home to help you get out the door? Do you need to lay out your clothes ahead of time, or do you need to move so your commute is shorter and more predictable? There is an emotional component to the way we behave, the way we live, and the standards we uphold (or don’t). Are you dissatisfied at work and dread going to the office each day, subconsciously sabotaging yourself? Be honest during this process, and take as much time as you need to reach clear answers.
17. Ask for, and accept, help.
Everyone has had tough days, weeks, months, even years, and chances are there are people in your life who can identify to at least some degree with what you are facing now. Ask for help when you need it. Accept help when it is offered. You can and will pull through, but the bigger the challenge, the easier it is with a village.
18. Hang in there.
Healing, change, and recovery can take time. Stay at the path, and keep moving forward. While some days will still feel tough, you are moving forward. You are making progress. Eventually, that hurdle that seemed so huge will be in your rear view mirror.
19. Keep looking forward.
Do you ever want to face this challenge, or set of challenges, again? No? Then cut it out! Kick the habits, lose the people, ditch the things that got you here. Rebuild a healthy life that works for you. Take what you’ve learned, and move on and upward. Don’t look back.
20. Help others.
The “pay it forward” initiative is an increasingly popular one these days, and for good reason – it feels good to help others. Pay your wisdom, experience, and strength forward by helping others confronting similar challenges to those you have now overcome. Whether through a formal program or simply by encouraging the next person you meet who seems a bit sad, you will make a difference. Sometimes, that makes all of those challenges worth it.
Need more advice? Check out these thoughts on How to Endure and Overcome the Worst of Life’s Hardships.
Featured photo credit: so lovely may via flickr.com