Is your life not going to plan? Do you find yourself wondering how you ended up here? Is misfortune upon misfortune piling up on you without warning? This feeling of being cornered by life is quite normal. In this piece, we give you five quick tips to try out to feel better and get back on your feet.
‘Life is easy,’ someone said, ‘you just live it until you die.’ For the rest of us, though, life often throws up a curveballs when we least expect them to come our way. You put in the grind through college, take out a huge student loan, and graduate only to find yourself out of a job. The love of your life – with whom you’ve seen dreams of marriage and kids and growing old together – deserts you. You hit financial ruin. You feel spiritually empty. The dream job you thought was your passion is a bore in reality.
And so on.
There’s nothing unusual about being bogged down by life, because it happens to us all. But the way in which we react to these setbacks defines our well being. Here are a few things you can try when life kicks you down again.
1. Take time off
As long as your finances are not pinching you, a little bit of time off can do you a world of good. We live in times where we keep running most of our adult lives, chasing this or that or the other, which leaves us with no mental energy to think things through and re-examine our priorities. During your time off, make sure you fill your day with as much silence as you can, and slow down the pace at which you live. So instead of taking a trip, re-acquaint yourself with your neighbourhood. Re-kindle some old friendships. Give time to your relationships. And question your perspective.
2. Reshape some of your internal narratives
We all have internal stories that we tell ourselves. I am unlucky in love. I am a doormat, people love taking advantage of me. I am no good at managing finances. I am horrible at relationships. I am not passionate about anything. These stories are generally negative affirmations that we burden ourselves with. Now that you have some time on your hands, try if you can convert some of these into positive affirmations. You don’t have to be insanely positive about everything, but a quiet, realistic appraisal of where you are will do you wonders.
3. Accept that you’re not always in control
No matter how sorted you are in your life and how balanced you are emotionally, accept that an external event can bring your world crashing down. When that happens, have the wisdom to say that it’s not your fault. We are often racked with guilt about things that we have no control over, and we beat ourselves up to create some more negative stories about ourselves. For instance, if a friend of yours betrayed your trust, it is the friend’s fault for betraying you, not yours for trusting him or her.
4. Give 100% to the parts of life that you can control
The corollary to the above section is that you must resolve to give your everything to parts of your life that you can control. The way you spend your time is often under your control. The kind of habits that you inculcate within yourself is in your control. The way you choose to react to external events is in your control. For instance, when you’re betrayed, you can either react with stoicism and continue to give your trust to other people, or you can react with disgust and become a mistrusting person in general.
5. Practice forgiveness and charity
Take thirty minutes or so every day to practice forgiveness of all those people who have wronged you. During the same time, also practice charity in the mind, where you force yourself to love those that have dearth of it in their lives. After making a habit of this, you can expand your reach and perform service and charity in the real world. This will make you an empathetic, calmer person.