If you’re in the middle of one of these tough times, here are some ideas that can not only help you survive, but thrive as well.
1. Practice self-compassion – When you’re facing a tough time in your life, don’t make it tougher by beating up on yourself. Self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff suggests three essential ways to be nicer to yourself:
a.) Treat yourself as you would your best friend. You would never say the things your inner critic says about you to your best friend.
b.) Don’t isolate yourself by thinking you’re the only one who makes mistakes or faces adversity. Remember that we all share a common humanity.
c.) Practice mindfulness by noticing your thoughts and feelings, but have no judgment about them. Simply notice them and let them go. (Read Neff’s wonderful book, Self-Compassion.)
2. Accept the reality of your situation – It’s easy to deny or rationalize things when you’re facing a problem. This is the time to get real with yourself– no more denial or wishful thinking that it will get better.
See the situation for what it really is and start to take action to deal with it.
3. Have a tribe – Creating and keeping a network of people around you is an essential part of being able to bounce back in life.
A tribe of close friends and family members ensures that you’ll have people to bounce ideas off of, who will give you emotional support, who will call you out when you’re in denial, and who will stay by your side no matter what.
4. Acknowledge that constant change is a part of life – A friend of mine told me that her grandmother, at age 99, said,
“I always thought that things would calm down and get easier. I’m beginning to believe that’s not going to happen.”
The sooner you accept that change is as much a part of life as growing older is, the more prepared you’ll be for it.
Struggling against life changes – even when they’re unwanted – only drains your energy.
Adopt a change mindset and save your energy for engaging in the joyous parts of life.
5. You don’t have to like it – Somehow it has become implied that, in order to deal with adversity effectively and in a healthy way, you must like what is happening to you.
This is just wrong.
Acceptance of a problem is different than liking it. You can be open, flexible, and accepting without liking what you’re going through
6. Let it go – Holding tightly to a belief, behavior, or material object only drains your energy and narrows your focus onto that object.
Allow yourself the freedom of releasing your tight emotional grasp on these things and you’ll soon find much more space in which to face the rough times in your life.
7. Get a different perspective – Remember that there are always at least two ways to look at something and usually many more.
Even though you’re in the middle of a crisis, might there actually be an opportunity opening up for you? A
new job? A chance to learn about yourself or someone else? Is life teaching you a new way to approach change?
A woman I know told me that she looked at the unexpected loss of her job as an opportunity to “expand rather than contract.”
How many different ways can you view the situation in front of you?
8. Expect gifts – Even though it can be tiresome to hear that “every cloud has a silver lining,” it’s still true that most situations bring us lesson and gifts in sometimes subtle way.
Maybe you’ll learn that you’re stronger than you thought.
Maybe you’ll find out how many people really care about you.
When my late partner had breast cancer, we learned the art of non-resistance through her very wise oncologist. While we still pursued aggressive treatment for her cancer, we let go of the resistance to the process.
This lesson profoundly changed our lives for the better.
9. Take a break – Sometimes when we are in one of life’s storms we end up focusing all of our energies on just staying afloat.
It’s important for you to give yourself a break now and again.
Take some time to do something fun with friends or family or even by yourself.
Distracting yourself from your problems for a bit will clear your mind and some healthy laughter will feel good and create some healthy space for clarity, too.
Even if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, it’s okay to take laughter breaks. Your sadness will be there when you get back.
10. Remember that you’ve made it through tough times before – It’s funny how we humans are. Even though we’ve experienced crises in the past, it always seems that the one in front of us is the biggest and worst one ever.
But it’s a really helpful exercise to sit for a minute and think about tough times you’ve been through before.
Notice how you made it through that past event even though you may have thought at the time that you wouldn’t.
So remember that you’re going to get through this one, too.
12. Learn from a kaleidoscope – When you look through a kaleidoscope, you see a beautiful pattern. It’s so pretty, you may not want to change it.
But, eventually, you have to turn the dial.
Suddenly there is a chaotic jumble in front of your eyes but then, magically, another beautiful pattern emerges.
Life can be like this, too.
So remember when things are jumbled in your life that they may be actually forming a brand new, beautiful image.
13. Commit random acts of kindness – Both happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky and positivity researcher Barbara Frederickson have found that intentionally doing something kind – even something very small – for another person can help you feel happier and more positive which, in turn, helps you to expand your mindset and increase your ability to problem-solve.
Who wouldn’t want that?
You get to feel better AND solve your problem faster!
Helping others can be a great way to help yourself.