So we all skidded into the new year – relieved that the stress which was 2017 was behind us and hopeful that 2018 would bring something better. We dreamed, planned, set goals and now here we are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for all the good things coming our way.
Did you hear that little scratch of the record then as the music ended? Because maybe 2018 isn’t going as well for you as you hoped it would or maybe the shiny resolutions you set as the chimes at midnight rang out on the 1st Jan have started to tarnish a little. Maybe you are starting to feel that this year is going to be like all the others, or perhaps you are going through a bad patch that shows no signs of abating.
We all go through difficult times and whether you simply have the blues or you are struggling with other painful issues I thought I would write this post of 10 things I try to hold on to when things seem a little bleak. I am not great at all of these – I am very much a work in progress – but I thought if they can sometimes help me, they may be able to help you too.
The first step I believe is to accept that things are not going as well as you hoped they would or there are issues going on that you have relatively little control over. Better to accept how things are than try to pretend that all is fine and dandy. Sometimes we expend so much energy trying to kid ourselves that there is no issue, that we end up exhausted not so much from the problem itself, but from our running from it.
You may not have control over the issue itself but you can control how you react to it. Try to not anticipate that the worst is going to happen. Takes things slowly and give yourself time to absorb what is going on before taking action. Sometimes just taking that step back is enough to let some light and breathing space in.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Wayne Dyer
However bad things are, there are always things you can find to be grateful for. Your health, your home, your family, your pet, that beautiful sunny walk you had through the park yesterday, the joke your Grandad read out of a cracker at Christmas.
These things won’t be the same every time, as it will depend what is happening in your life. For example if you are going through relationship issues you will need to look to some of the other areas to find solace. Just jotting down 3 things you are grateful for every day in a journal or writing one on a piece of paper, and popping it into a jar you can return to and read later, will be hugely beneficial.
On the theme of gratitude you might sometimes have to take it down to the very tiny. If everything seems bleak give yourself small things to look forward to. That program on TV you love, a cup of really great coffee or getting an early night and immersing yourself in a good book. Shrink the world to that 30 minutes of enjoyment and it will make you stronger again to tackle the bigger issues.
As you enjoy those tiny things you are also taking time to look after yourself. Try to extend that time as much as possible. When we are stressed or unhappy we can eat or drink more, not eat enough, turn to alcohol or sugar, or just neglect giving ourselves enough time to rest. No-one feels their best when they are living on a diet of doughnuts or not getting any sleep – so make sure you put yourself first.
You Are Enough
This is a difficult one to accept, and if you are anything like me you might have huge resistance to it, but as they saying goes ‘you are enough’. Sometimes we can go through huge doubts about our own capabilities, and while there is always room to learn and improve, the very essence of you is enough.
Je ne regrette rien
Well this one isn’t true for me at all, I regret LOTS of things. However, there comes a time when you do need to let go of the past and accept that however much you dislike certain decisions you made, you made them at the time due to where you were in your life and the awareness you had at that point in time. With hindsight would you have made other decisions? Usually the answer is yes but if you hold on to all that pain it probably won’t help you to make the right decisions moving forward.
Following on from the last point on regret, forgiveness is also a big one. Forgive others and more importantly forgive yourself for any bad decisions, errors or failures you perceive you have made. Whatever the situation now, things can change and you don’t want to be carrying any baggage with you when it does.
You have survived before. When you feel down, when you are experiencing difficulties, remember you have made it through times like this before and you will again. Visualisation is a great tool for this. Spend 5 minutes a day thinking about how you want the situation to resolve itself or how you want things to turn around. During those 5 minutes your mind and body actually believes that what you are visualising is real and research has shown that visualisation can physically help you achieve what starts only in your mind.
This can be a great one for lifting us out of our own minds. Just do something for others. This can be by giving money, volunteering, helping a friend out or just letting someone go in front of you in the queue at the supermarket if they only have one item. It doesn’t have to be something prize-winning, it’s those small acts of service which happen every day which make the world a much kinder place to be.
There is always hope. Sometimes when we are in the midst of pain that thought is difficult to hold on to. But how many times have you been through really bad issues and come out the other side. That hope for something better was always there waiting for you.
In part, I have written this list for myself. But I hope too you may find at least one or two small glimmers of hope within it. If you have, I would love for you to just click to share it on Facebook or Twitter – thank you.