Do you ever have one of those days, maybe even a few days, where life just seems a little harder. I am not talking about days when we are experiencing a genuine loss, or dramatic event in our lives. I am talking about those days when the thoughts in our head feel less cheerleader and more judge and jury? Those days when our body feels less attractive, our relationships seem hard, our life is going nowhere and every decision we make feels like it is the wrong one? Yup! Those days, where nothing seems to be going our way? I have decided to call those days “The Sucks”.
The reality is that on those days, most of the time, not a significant thing is different than on that last great day we had. Our body is the same, our face is the same, our life circumstance has not changed dramatically and our decision making skills are not any less capable. So what then is this?
As humans, we always have a tremendous amount of thoughts running through our head. Most of the time, we are not even aware of those thoughts or we identify those thoughts as being our reality. If you were to become aware of your thoughts on the good days, you would likely notice that the reason you are feeling so well, is that subconsciously you are tuned into your authentic self and the thoughts running through your mind are positive and uplifting ones. Of course it is easy to have positive and uplifting thoughts when life is going well. Maybe you got a promotion, you are falling in love or maybe you have lost that pesky weight?
What happens on days that maybe are not going so well? When life seems inexplicably harder, relationships are tense, our self concept is a bit shaky? Often times on those days, we have very negative thoughts accompanying us through the day. If you were to become aware of your thoughts, you would notice the inner judge, the “nay-sayer” and the doubts. The wonderful news here is, that as soon as you have identified the thoughts as being separate from you, you step into a new state of being. Becoming aware of your thoughts, you then have a choice to say “those are only my thoughts, they are not my reality”
Awareness of our thoughts is only the first step. Although noticing our thoughts is a wonderful step, it is only the first step, because it does not change whatever our current situation is. It only helps us to notice that we are judging ourselves and making a difficult day more painful for ourselves. So, then what? What to do when you are stuck in a difficult day. There are some wonderful ways to work with difficulties:
- Become crystal clear on what it is you are telling yourself. Sometimes that can be trickier than it sounds. I find that 15 minutes of sitting in silence, often makes that inner critic pretty clear. Sitting in silence takes away the ability to numb or ignore your inner thoughts. Asking yourself “What story am I telling myself right now?” often opens the flood gates and makes conscious the thoughts feeding your difficulties
- Don’t personalize! Often we make any difficulty worse by making it about us. If things are not working out as planned, that does not mean that we did something wrong. If we are experiencing tension in a relationship, it does not mean that it is about us.
- Avoid “snowballing”. What do I mean by that? Taking one aspect of your life that maybe is not going your way and transferring that to every aspect of your life. All that does is make the problem feel insurmountable and makes you feel even worse. It becomes a big vicious cycle.
- Stay away from attaching permanence to a difficult moment, day or week. Avoid using words such as ALWAYS, and NEVER. No situation is permanent. Life is in a constant ebb and flow. What may be painful now will not ALWAYS be painful. If something is not an option for you now, that does not mean that it will NEVER be an option. Again, attaching permanence makes any situation feel unbearable.
- Lean in to “The Sucks”. Acknowledge that you are experiencing difficulties. Have compassion for yourself in times of trouble. Feel whatever emotion is wanting to come up. Our feelings always demand to be felt. I caution you though to not “jump in the river”. By that I mean, feelings are real.The stories we attach to them, are not. If you pay attention to your stories, they likely start with “Always” and “Never”. So go ahead, cry, scream if you need to and you will notice how quickly feelings actually move through us, once we stop being afraid to feel them.
- Take exceptional care of yourself. Drink plenty of water. Eat in a way that nourishes and honors your body. Take a walk in nature. Get plenty of rest. Reach out to friends for support. Self care becomes even more critical during times of stress.
By leaning in to our difficult times, and taking positive steps on our behalf, we build resilience. We also start noticing that difficult times don’t last. That the next moment could offer great joy and that what seems insurmountable in the moment is often the jumping off point to a new way of being in this world. Each time we move through difficulties in a consciously connected way, we create a success story for ourselves. That way the next time we are stuck in “The Sucks”, we recognize it for what it is, taking positive action on our behalf and moving through it with resilience and grace.
If you are having difficulty in your life, if identifying your thoughts and separating from them is beyond your current ability. If you are afraid to lean in to your pain, because you worry that you will get stuck there, I would love for you to contact me, so I can support you as you are learning these new life transforming skills. There is so much waiting for you on the other side of fear.