Do you ever feel down and just want to throw in the towel? Does it sometimes feel like nothing’s going your way? It’s not like you’ve completely given up but the struggle is real.
It might be something big: a job loss, relationship issue or health crisis (hopefully not all at the same time) or something small: you lost your yoga mat, the cat pooped in the sink, or you put sweetened condensed milk in the fish chowder by accident (uh-huh).
Although a negative experience is one thing, it often spreads into other areas of your life. You’re having financial difficulties which makes you stress…then you eat too much…you put on weight…you no longer want your partner to see you naked…then you get mad at the kids because that just seems like the thing to do. By this time, you’re looking at everything through a pessimist’s lens and your world is November gray.
Yes, it’s a bit dismal, but YOU GOT THIS.
I don’t want to minimize anyone’s difficulties because it’s all relative, but think about some issue you’re facing right now and then imagine facing that same issue while living in war-torn Syria. Think about what it was like to live with mental illness a hundred years ago.
Even in your own neighbourhood, you can probably find someone, today, whose problems are worse than yours.
Now will anything I just said solve your problems? Nope. All I’m attempting to do is offer some perspective. Why? Because your best weapon when problems arise is a powerful attitude. I know…if disaster strikes, it’s not easy to be levelheaded because problems hurt, and often, our emotions take over.
Here’s a helpful technique I stumbled across. If you’re around my age, you may remember the TV show The Friendly Giant – “Look up, wa-a-ay up!” In this case, I’m not going to tell you to look up. Instead, I’m going to suggest that you look back…wa-a-ay back…to your past…where you came from.
Think about some of your most memorable life experiences: first day at school, graduation, first real job, falling in love, first home, the birth of your children, the southern vacation. I’m certain you’ve had good experiences, big and small. Bask in them a bit.
Now think about the bad things you’ve been through, all the times you struggled and suffered. The setbacks, arguments, breakups, and health or family issues. Think about the tragic things and those that were simply irritating. Reflect on how you eventually overcame them. It wasn’t easy but you rose up and pushed ahead. I would also bet that many of the bad things you went through helped you grow in some way now that you have the benefit of hindsight.
Now that you’ve looked back, it’s time to turn around and look ahead. Start thinking about the things yet to come, the experiences that await you. Starring in the local theater production, meeting new people, visiting new places, landing a new job, growing old with your partner. There are so many opportunities waiting for you. It may be a major life event or nothing more than a great evening out with friends. The thing to remember is that despite any negativity you’re feeling about your present situation, there are good things in store for you.
Now look as far ahead as you can to the end of your life. Yes, you will die. Although it may not be pleasant, think about the day you die. This helps you realize that everything is simply a scene in the movie of your life. It’s all part of your life story.
The idea of this exercise is to help you keep things in perspective. Anything you’re going through right now is just another “something.” There are waves, there are storms, and you may want to barf your guts up, but chances are your ship isn’t going to sink. You’ll make it to the next destination. Be the captain of your ship. When the storm is tossing you around, stay on course and steer yourself through.
Face your problems as they arise – one at a time. Deal with them. Move on. If you have fifty problems, deal with them…one at a time. There is a solution for just about every situation you face. If you don’t see it, you simply haven’t found it yet. Step back from the problem and look at the big picture. This might give you the focus you need to get on the right track.
Experience has taught me that when you put things in perspective, you’ll start to feel like you can handle the situation. You may not have the perfect solution, but at least you’re in the driver’s seat and have some control over the situation.
It’s not always easy. But when you’re feeling like nothing is working, take a look at your track record. Despite any obstacles, you’ve made it this far, and you’ll continue to make it. You got this.