Inside: How to get through difficult times – 7 super strategies
There’s a mysterious place called Octopus Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Octopus Springs is one of the unique places on Earth that’s labeled an “extreme environment.”
For life to exist here it’s poised with ‘against all odds’ defying challenges. The fact that life can even exist at all is nothing short of a miracle.
But life does exist. Against all odds, it finds a way.
Humans have more in common with these extreme environments than we might initially think. Although we have water, sunlight, electricity, heat, and shelter, there are still periods of our lives – sometimes long unbearable periods – that we wonder how life can be so cruel, hard and impossible.
Take a look at the 4 dreaded D’s of life, any one of them alone is enough to collapse us to our knees.
The 4 dreaded D’s:
- Death (Have you recently lost a loved one?)
- Disease (Are you sick? Or is a loved one sick?)
- Divorce (This one is tough too, it’s like an entire piece of you is cut away.)
- Downsizing (Losing your livelihood is extremely stressful!)
And if any one of these things isn’t considered extreme – well, quite frankly, I hope I never have to experience a truly “extreme environment.”
We all say the same thing, at the climax of our despair when we are pounding our hands into the Earth, we beg and plead; “Why me? What have I done to deserve this?”
There is an answer.
You are alive. Many causes and conditions came together and you were born. All sentient beings suffer.
To exist is to suffer.
Life is meant to be a spattering of good and bad.
The problem is that the bad is utterly debilitating. It knocks the life right out of you; it often leaves you gasping for air amidst a pool of cold loneliness.
Know this my friend – you are not alone.
Whatever you are going through, no matter how difficult, sad, unfair or turbulent, countless others have felt this depth of despair.
Countless others RIGHT NOW, this very second are feeling this level of depth and despair.
This is not to take away from or minimize the gravity of your pain, but it is comforting to know that you are never alone.
Why am I being punished?
Let’s get this straight. No one is punishing you.
It’s a matter of fact that every human being will go through aging, sickness, death, and loss. You’re not special or un-special for that matter. You are human.
You are not to blame, there is nothing you can do to change it – the reality is, and sorry for this – our existence here is only temporary. We can’t move onto to whatever is next for us without going through this journey of good and bad.
One thing is certain in life — we do not have control over external situations. Yet we are so scared of losing control, and losing our precious grip on the happy moments that we resist every ounce of suffering.
The good news is that when times get hard there are a few tips we can incorporate into our lives to help survive the extremes. So if you are wondering how to get through difficult times, keep reading to learn to tackle the low points with an elevated mind of hope.
How to Get Through Difficult Times – Surviving Life’s Storms
1. Stop resisting hard times
This won’t change the fact that you are suffering – you’ll still be sick, lonely or jobless but what it will do is give you the wisdom to know and accept the things that are out of your control.
Acceptance is relaxing the tension, letting go of the clenched jaw and resting the energy and pull of the mind.
These difficult times, like everything else in life, shall pass. Stop creating more stress in your life by dwelling on what you cannot change.
When we choose acceptance instead of resistance we develop a relaxed, peaceful inner energy, a quiet calm that makes us strong – strong like a rock.
When the happy moments inevitably shatter around us into shards of loss, disappointment, jealousy, anger, and betrayal, this cultivated inner strength gives us the tools to pick up the broken pieces and put them back together – back together into a stronger version of you.
Recommended Read: Broken Open, How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
2. While we are putting ourselves back together we need to remember to rest. Self-care is essential.
When times get hard we need to rest; we need to relax, reduce stressors and quiet the energy of our mind.
There is a reason why they say sleep is the best medicine.
Like a car sputtering on fumes, you will break down without refueling your body. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, you need to rest.
Relaxation is the key to survival, relax your body and your mind.
Eat clean, exercise and rest, rest rest.
These simple self-care strategies are essential to putting yourself back together.
If you’d like to ease your mind and sleep better have a look at our 3-month guided worry journal. This popular form of cognitive therapy will help you in any difficult time. It’s full of positive affirmations, quotes, creative spaces, and will help you hone in on your worries and create a plan of action. Learn more here.
3. Develop a spiritual faith
It doesn’t matter if you believe in Christianity, Buddhism or Alien reincarnation, develop hope and faith in what’s next for you and your loved ones.
Think about your journey and your own evolution.
When times get hard developing faith can help you cope with the difficult times and your values and beliefs can then guide you through difficult losses.
And the main point here is that faith develops hope. And hope is a powerful thing.
You might need to dig deep here and connect with your inner spirit. Perhaps learn to meditate and practice stillness. Grow your branches like a sturdy oak tree and reach for new horizons.
You may be hurting but you can’t be knocked down.
4. Keep a positive attitude
There are many tips and advice on how to cultivate a change in attitude but one key way to do this is to begin a gratitude practice.
It might seem impossible to be grateful for anything when you’re going through despair, but there is always something to be grateful for.
Think about the things you do have, instead of what you’ve lost. Make a list right now of 4 things you are grateful for.
- The sun is shining
- The house is warm and cozy
- Enjoying a steaming cup of tea
- A warm phone call from a friend
Like I said there is always something to be thankful for.
5. Shift perspectives
The following visualization exercise is effective:
I like to look down at myself from high above, and then zoom out and see the city I live in, then the world…If I could zoom out and imagine the grandness of the universe, Earth is a mere speck.
Then I like to zoom back in a little, I might be able to make out the outline of oceans and land. If I zoom in a little more, I see Canada, floating way down in the northern hemisphere.
Then if I zoom in even farther, I see towns and lakes, forests and mountains, and then I zoom into Ontario, to cottage country, and I see me, and I am a tiny speck, floating on a rickety sailboat looking up at a vast and infinite universe.
My problems seem insignificant and self-centered against the infinite spaciousness above me, and it becomes hard to overreact to certain hardships.
Remember, sometimes a broken relationship can sometimes lead to a new and better relationship, or a job loss might lead an exciting new opportunity. Everything doesn’t always have to be doom and gloom. There can be something good that comes out of perceived negative situations.
Also take the time to ask yourself, “Is this life event really a disaster? Or is it possibly an inconvenience? Or a temporary fixable problem?”
While sometimes it may feel like the world is out to get you, and the sky is falling upon you, often times a situation isn’t as bad as your mind has made it out it be, and might even pass as quickly as it came, like a fast-moving storm.
Check out this epic list of 13 ways to rewire your brain and reduce stress and anxiety.
Recommended books to help you tackle hard times. Mind over Mood is an absolute gem to shift your perspective.
6. Feel your feelings
The only way to truly break free from whatever is getting you down is to acknowledge it. If you stuff it inside, it will fester there and create a boil inside you, and boils always burst open, and it’s usually quite messy.
“Avoiding our negative emotions may feel like an effective stopgap measure, but in fact, it simply postpones, and perhaps escalates and exacerbates a flood of negative emotion sometime in the future.” John Duffy author of the available parent.
John Duffy created a method he calls TEARS – Talking, exercising, artistic expression, recording or writing experiences, and sobbing. Use this analogy to help you get through a tough time.
It’s especially helpful to talk your way through a situation, don’t feel ashamed to seek out a psychologist or counselor, talk therapy can be a very effective way to move past something that you are dealing with.
Similarly, don’t underestimate the power of a conversation with your loved ones. We are often too afraid to ask for support, but our loved ones want to help. And one day you can return the favor.
7. Write an ending to the hard time.
At some point in time, you must move on. You will likely know when it’s time, it’s like wrapping up your favorite TV series, even though you desperately want to hang on to and don’t want it to end, perhaps like the Walking Dead, it might be time to call it a day.
If your marriage broke down, at some point in time you need to say, it’s done, it’s over. If you lost your job, there will come a day when you need to focus on the future.
I recommend writing down your anxieties fears and worries, this will help you close the book on this chapter of your life. Write it down, let it go!
If you would like to say goodbye to your worries with our 3-month guided worry journal, please learn more here.
There are no easy answers, with our existence comes suffering, a suffering that no amount of money, status, fame or popularity can help us escape from.
The only thing we can do is rest in the fact that we have some control over how we react to our low points.
Accept and roll with the ebb and flow of life.
This too shall pass, and before you know it you’ll have slid over this rough wave and you’ll ride high onto the next one.
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