“This too shall pass.” The ultimate advice, the go-to sentence of inspiration, and the baseline encouragement we receive from well-meaning loved ones. It’s often followed with a sentiment like “I know you don’t want to hear this now, but it’s true,” or “We need to go through these challenges to get to the other side.”
You’ve been here before if you’re like me and recognize that life is not always sunshine and roses. Chances are, just like me, you will be here again. Although profound and beautiful, this sentence and type of encouragement have always guided me to the darker end of the tunnel and not toward the proverbial light shining just for me at the end of it.
If I’m honest: Life just sucks sometimes. Challenges arise; some are easy to deal with and include some sort of excited satisfaction when we solve them with expert skill. Others are what I call the “hang-arounds.” No matter how hard I try, how many times I change my mindset, how many times I surrender and then surrender some more, they keep clouding my perfectly blue skies and follow me like a shadow.
Hard times will always be a part of life; I have come to accept this. Just like joy, celebration, awe, excitement, and purpose are part of my existence. Gray days are part and parcel of the life package.
Over the years, I have come to some conclusions about dealing with the hard times and how to get out on the other side. Do I leave the snowstorm whole? Honestly? Only sometimes! But it has been more vital for me to recognize that there is and always will be, another side to the waters of turmoil.
These are the things I have picked up along the way that sometimes work better than other times but have nevertheless guided me to find peace easier in times of hardship.
Throw Positivity Out The Window
The biggest hurdle I experience in healing through the bad times is all the voices, coaches, self-help, and society, in general, wanting me to “find my inner happiness,” put positive spins on things, and generally just focus on seeing things from a rosier point of view. What about dealing with life? Not sweeping things under the rug? Whatever happened to feeling your feelings? I cannot even begin to think about solutions, positivity, or actions I can take to move through difficult times if I don’t spend time dissecting the feelings that contribute to the misery or difficulty of a situation. I cry, internalize, listen to sad or angry music, and work on letting it go. I’ve come to realize that I need to feel my feelings and truly dig deep and acknowledge that I am having these feelings. It’s happening, consciously or subconsciously. I can either be on the let’s-deal-with-this-bus or wait at the one-way station, hoping a bus to another direction will arrive.
When I’ve emptied the suitcase of bottled-up emotions I drag with me, I feel clean, open, and clear, and I am in a better space to take on the “how” of dealing with the issue. This is a brutally difficult stage for me, but the cleansed feeling I experience after makes it worthwhile.
Accepting The Worst Possible Outcome
Sometimes things aren’t meant to work out in my favor. Sure, I can go into everything happening for a reason. I may understand the “why” of it later – but let’s be honest: The chances that I will have this epiphany when I’m in the thick of it is relatively small. There are also some realistic situations when I cannot positively think myself out of something. To curb my anxiety, which always flares up with extreme uncertainty – I write down every possible outcome to the situation. Starting with the most horrible and the one I fear or would like to avoid. Then I focus my energy on coming to terms with it. I don’t try to make peace with it because this is not always possible for my overly-anxious mind – but I get familiar with the possibility, think about it, and start thinking of ways to deal with it. Of course, it is not always to say the worst outcome is the only destination, but life happens whether I want it to or not. If I stare the worst probability in the face – I feel less scared of the monster in the closet.
Rolling Through It
This is the hardest part for me. Not all problematic times are sorted in a matter of hours or days. Being stuck in that is so challenging, and it can become difficult for me to imagine that there was a time this was not an issue or that there will be a time that this will be safely in the rearview mirror of my life. I remind myself, out loud, that I am doing my best to resolve it. This in itself becomes difficult for my perfectionist brain. It is better to sit down and list everything I’ve done to deal with the issue or move through this time. I critically assess if I did my best and if there is, at that point, anything else I can do. Looking at the list, written in permanent ink, makes me feel better about the steps I have taken. A big part of feeling stuck for me is the fact that I feel helpless or useless. Knowing I am actively trying to improve the situation makes me feel I am doing all I can. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still plague me, that I don’t doubt that there was more I could have done or should do – but it does put things into a better perspective, making it more digestible.
The culture of always being okay, always seeing the rainbow, and always finding the solutions is so curious. It feels like it adds pressure to my already stressed mind – reality has always been my comfort. While I firmly believe that I don’t want to go through life depressed, sad, and angry – there are times when merrily prancing among the daisies will not solve your problems or help you feel better about a bad situation. I spent so many years avoiding the scary consequences of feeling. I now try to be honest with myself as much as possible. And if this does not always fit into humanity’s endless happy hour, that’s okay too.
Am I the only one that feels this way? Do you think I am being overly negative and depressing? How do you deal with the hard times?
Love and Light