Secrets To Getting Through Difficult Situations (And Really Bad Days)
When you find yourself mired in a difficult situation or just struggling through a very bad day, some people around you might say that if you “just think positively” then everything will be okay.
However, it’s not so easy to just do that on cue. In addition, even if you’ve got to a place where you’re mostly content with your life, you’re still going to have tough times and occasionally feel like nothing really matters.
Here are the secrets you need to know about how to push through these situations…
Start By Feeling Sorry For Yourself (Briefly)
If you throw a quick “pity party” for yourself, chances are that you’ll feel better in the long run than you would if you tried to suppress your emotions. The key here is to practice the right kind of self-pity—you should offer yourself pity with compassion, which means caring for yourself, bemoaning your situation and gently acknowledging that things don’t feel fair.
The sort of self-pity you want to avoid is pity with aversion—that means fighting against your life, feeling hateful, or thinking threatening thoughts (e.g. “The world better not keep doing this to me!”). You can choose to involve a sympathetic loved one as well if you like, especially if you have a standing arrangement to provide reciprocal, empathetic support.
Compassionate pity will move you from a place of frustration to one of sadness, allowing you to fully engage with feeling low—and this is the first step towards healing. In contrast, if you focus on fury and spite, you’ll be stuck with a festering wound.
Meanwhile, if you just refuse to acknowledge that you’ve been hurt or annoyed, these emotions will eventually burst out of you in unpredictable and potentially hazardous ways. Better to feel your self-pity for what it is, treat yourself kindly, and create space for change.
Change Your Environment
Changing your environment can be a mental or physical act, and often it’s both. However you approach it, it’s a great strategy for getting through bad days. It may require you to force yourself to get up and do something (whether literally or metaphorically), but you can almost guarantee you’ll be glad if you make the effort.
You may not make your day good, but you’ll reduce your suffering and prime yourself for a better day tomorrow.
Good examples of ways to change your environment include going for a drive, taking a hot bath, walking through a park or making a date with a friend. Finding a way to laugh is also a powerful way to adjust your mental environment—it gets feel-good hormones pumping through your blood, and automatically shifts your perspective to a lighter, more whimsical one.
Further, any kind of creative act will have a similar impact. Whether you love writing, painting, or just enjoy stress-busting color books, you’re sure to find your focus changing and your resilience building.
If you just don’t have it in yourself to change your environment in some big way, focus on the smallest bearable change and go with that. It might just be putting on a favorite song, sending a text message to someone you love, or picking up a fiction book to read a few pages.
All of these environmental changes put you in a marginally better place and help you get to the end of a bad day.
Know That All Emotions Are Impermanent
Once you’ve allowed yourself to throw that compassionate pity party and have taken concrete steps to adjust your environment, you may still be feeling like this is just a particularly bad day for you.
At this point, a period of reflection can be the best option—and one of the most useful things to contemplate is the universal law of impermanence. This is especially commonly discussed by Buddhists, but it’s relevant to everyone looking to feel happier and live more meaningful lives.
When you consider that nothing is permanent, you know that not every day will be a bad day—it’s impossible. Everything is constantly changing and evolving, and the mood you’re in right now will not be the one you’re stuck with for the rest of your life.
Being aware of impermanence can make it a lot easier to wait for positive change, and to believe in it. In many ways, moods are like weather patterns—they pass across the land, and they can bring positivity or create challenges, but they do change. And they can change in the most unpredictable ways!
A stormy morning can turn into a gorgeously sunny afternoon, complete with a stunning rainbow.