It’s hard not to feel at times like you are being crushed like an aluminum can. Like you cannot possibly withstand the pressures coming at you on all sides, the disappointments, the heartbreak, the relentless struggle against time, money, work, hopes, dreams and responsibilities. You dust yourself off, stand again, but you are weary. You feel like you’re failing, or at the very least, not succeeding. You’re not even sure how to make it through this particular pressure point that has you near crumbling.
I don’t have all the answers. I’m still trying to figure it out. Sometimes I do great. Until I don’t. But during the moments I don’t, I’ve found some things that help me through the rough patches. They aren’t a miracle cure; but they’ve served to strengthen and lift me when I’ve needed it the most.
Recently, I’ve had a couple friends bow low under life’s pressures. When one began scribbling notes down as I shared my thoughts, I thought I should write something for him and anyone else that finds them useful. Because let’s face it. We’re all there now and then. And then please share what works for you!
- It’s ok to feel terrible sometimes. Life is supposed to be challenging. It’s supposed to push you to the limits of your perceived capabilities most of the time. As you learn and grow, the challenges look different, so you have to develop new abilities to cope and grow through them. This isn’t an excuse to wallow, but just to say, hey, give yourself a break. Don’t drown out the emotions with tv, Facebook or your pastime of choice. Instead of going away, those negative emotions get pushed deeper in, where they’re harder to get at. Realize feeling is human. Challenges are human. Accept that challenges are a part of life to help you become a better person, and they aren’t going away. Don’t face them with roboticism, but with acceptance and grace.
- Look at your feelings square in the face. Take a moment to really meditate and reflect on what you’re feeling. Give it a name or several names. Is it fear? Rejection? Fear of rejection? Disappointment? Anger? At what exactly? Or whom? Name it and then go a step deeper. We all have triggers and past experiences. Often many of our negative emotions have one root emotion, such as fear of failure or fear of not being accepted. Where does that come from? Does something in your past keep you running from potential failure, even while you feel that it’s somehow inevitable? Did you feel that you weren’t accepted by your peers as a child or teen and now wonder if anyone could really care for you if they knew you well enough? Often, tracing your feelings down to their roots alleviates a lot of that invisible pressure and burden you didn’t know you were carrying so tightly. Seeing it allows you to begin to let go.
- What would your wisest, most peaceful zen self be thinking, feeling, doing? Or someone you admire? How would they handle this? What would their thought process look like when faced with this challenge? Would they look at it as an opportunity to improve in that area of their life? What kind of opportunity? What growth is possible here? Patience? Love? Acceptance, of others or yourself? Cleansing yourself of addiction or a bad habit? What would your future self ten years from now tell yourself? Don’t worry, you’re just around the corner from fulfilling your goals? This person you’re not with anymore wasn’t the best person for your eternal progression and happiness but the right person will be with you before you know it, and boy are they worth the wait? What would you tell your closest friend in the same situation? Hang in there? Don’t be hard on yourself? You’re doing great? You’re loved? Would they tell you what they loved about you? What kinds of nice things would they say? Try telling yourself those same things.
- Be the hero is someone else’s story. There are countless ways to serve and love on others, from being liberal with your hugs and listening ear, to handing out food to homeless people. Find a way that fits you and your personality. There’s something about getting down to the raw humanness that we all share that strips away the layers of stress we add to our daily lives, and lends our troubles perspective. Of course, our challenges will still be there, but their edges will be softened, their girth minimized, while our own strength and sense of aptitude is fortified. We’re not alone on this planet; not nearly alone. We have far more in common with those around us than any of us realize. Reaching out to strengthen others in turns strengthens us and helps us realize that our pains are a shared pain, and the more we help each other through them, the stronger we all are.
- Beautify your world, inside and out. Surround yourself with healthy food choices, fresh air, beautiful things that bring you joy, and most importantly, beautiful people that bring you joy. Not beautiful on the outside. This isn’t a modeling agency. But people who have beautiful, loving souls. Those who berate, judge, gossip, hurt and belittle, let them be freed from your life, calmly and dispassionately. Seek out those who are compassionate and empathic. And treasure them. If your emotional, mental, social and romantic world had a physical appearance, what would it look like? What would you want it to look like? Do some housekeeping. Get rid of the stuff that take away more than they provide you. Dust, sweep, mop, get under the furniture and in the corners. Open the curtains. Let the light dispel the darkness. Then do some real housekeeping in your real world. Clean your room, your house, your car. Surround yourself with beauty and cleanliness. Do some housekeeping on yourself. Walk around and get that blood flowing, or hit the gym, or dance or ski or rock climb. Put healthy food in your body. Stand outside and breath in nature. Listen to nature. Go to the nearest park or hiking spot if you’re in the city. Take a bubble bath with oils. Then enjoy it with a sense of presence, of being completely there in the moment. Breath. Smile.
- Let go. While you want to be accepting of your situation and feelings, you don’t want to set up permanent camp there. Accept the challenge is in your life and that you hurt from it, face the roots of your challenge and strive to learn from it, move beyond yourself to alleviate those around you from their challenges, work to improve yourself and your world, and then simply let the pain, the hurt, the disappointment and fear slip out of your loosening hands and take steps forward. Let that momentum carry you to joyful heights that are there for you to simply accept and grab a hold of.
Please share if you think someone you know could benefit from this.