What to Do When Life Gets Hard

It’s inevitable.

We are all going to struggle.  

I think we all daydream about a life that is free of any hardships.  

I sure do.

But that just isn’t reality for anyone.  

Some struggles are more difficult than others.

But for all intents and purposes of this post, I’m going to talk about the not-so-bad stuff that can still make us feel completely defeated: rejection, financial difficulties, comparison and shame.

I have experienced these in abundance over the last few months.

Rejection: I love when people say that rejection is just redirection.  It is! I totally believe that. However, it is the last thing that I want to hear when I am in the midst of feeling rejected.  I have recently had several articles published and those were some of the most exciting moments of my life. I bare my soul in my writing and to hear that someone else loved it or can relate to it makes my heart burst with joy.  

But I have been rejected too.  It hurts most when it’s my writing because that is so personal.  But I have also been rejected in work relationships as well. I am a business owner and I run a very heart-centered business that is based on honesty and integrity.  When I lose out on a contract to someone who will work cheaper it totally hurts my feelings! I’m human after all.

The worst thing you can say to someone when they are feeling bad is “get over it”.  Or “relax, everything is going to be fine”. Ummmm duh!! I KNOW that! I just don’t want to hear it at that particular moment.  And has anyone ever relaxed when being told to relax?! That immediately puts me on the defensive.

Financial difficulties: Who hasn’t has these?  If you haven’t, awesome. But for the remainder of the population, financial difficulties are one of the greatest causes of stress out there.  I have always been very open about my recovery journey and the damage that I caused when I was active in my alcoholism. I had HUGE legal and financial amends to make over the last four years.  Part of my personal recovery is not only to pay everything that I owe, but also not to incur any additional debt. This has not been an easy task. I have managed it, but not without worry looming in my subconscious.  

This worry is basically fear of not being able to provide for my kids.  That has never been the case. Not even during the most difficult times, however my brain wants me to know that it’s possible.  I have to actively work on releasing that belief a lot.

Comparison: “Comparison is the thief of joy” ~ Theodore Roosevelt.  You got that right Teddy! Yet here we are, in this digital age, inundated with the success (or perceived success) of others in our faces 24/7 thanks to social media.  I find that no matter how zen’d out and present I am, I will often inadvertently play the comparison game as I scroll through my feed…

I have the ability to be genuinely happy for the success of others, but I let it sneak in sometimes that maybe I should be a certain way in some part of my life that I’m not.  I should be better, smarter, stronger, further along, etc. This is utter nonsense. Imagine if we were all on the same life path with the same timeline.  How boring our world would be?! So embrace where you are no matter what that looks like. If you are doing the best you can each day then you are winning.  You’re winning at life. Good job.

Shame: This nasty bugger will come out of nowhere sometimes.  Even when you have done ALL the work to release it. Some form of shame lives in everyone’s shadow.  I am familiar with mine and I am also aware when I feel the emotional triggers associated with it coming back for a visit.  

I recently completed my part of the process for having my record expunged through the courts.  It was long and arduous and a lot of paperwork. I was basically asked to prove my worthiness to the judge.  At least that is what it felt like. I am very open with my recovery and I am also very confident in who I am as a person and I live that way every day.  But the shame spiral started to suck me in as I wrote that letter explaining where I had been at the time I got sober. I had to re-feel all those feelings and it didn’t feel good.  There were tears and a lot of phone calls to my amazing and supportive friends. I truly believe the way to take the power out of shame is to face things head on. So I did.

Sooooo now what??

What do we do when these shit feelings come flooding in?

  1. FEEL them.  Feel all the feels!  Lean into them. Do not dismiss them or try to force yourself to feel positive. Constant positivity is a form of avoidance.  It is 100% normal and absolutely ok to feel negative emotions. It’s part of the human experience! I think people mean well when they are shoveling the toxic positivity on us, so don’t be mad about it.  But allow yourself to feel crappy. Just don’t unpack and live there. And if those negative feelings take over for extended periods of time and turn in to hopelessness, please seek help from a doctor or a therapist who can help you process through them.

  2. Unplug to recharge.  Shut your phone off and leave it off for a few hours or for a whole damn day! It’s amazing to walk through an entire day just being present in your own life and not giving a crap about what new workout Karen has posted today or what Sheila had for lunch.  Because really, who the eff cares?! Focus on yourself. Take care of your own needs. Their highlight reels will be waiting when you’re in a more serene mindset.

  3. Cry it out.  Cry all you want.  It is incredibly healing to let the tears flow.  I still have a hard time with this sometimes. I will cry by myself without difficulty, but allowing others to see my vulnerability still feels like failure sometimes #recoveringperfectionist.  I’m working on it though and have successfully cried in front of pretty much everyone that I’ve come in contact with over the last month… Lucky them. They all gave me love and support regardless, and that is because vulnerability breeds connection.  I value the real connections that I have in my life today.

  4. Write about it.  You sure as heck better have a journal by now, or five!  I have them everywhere. I even keep one in my purse for emergency writing purges.  There is something magical about putting pen to paper. Just do it and see what flows out of you.  If you’re worried about someone reading it then burn it after. A little burning ceremony is also delightful (insert evil laugh).  If you feel weird about fire then shred it. But give it a try. Write and see how much you can process by just letting out all the feelings on paper.  You can also write a gratitude list which will often shift you out of that feeling of defeat when you see how awesome your life really is.

  5. Pamper yourself in some way.  Take a bubble bath, eat some chocolate, get a fancy coffee, have pancakes for dinner, buy yourself a present.  I used to drown my shitty feelings in alcohol and that was not a solution. It just made the problem worse when I had a hangover on top of it.  But I can find the same relief from the heaviness of my emotions by taking a bubble bath infused with essential oils and there are no negative consequence from that (except maybe pruney skin from soaking too long).  Plus you can have a good cry in the bath and watch your tears wash down the drain as you release all those heavy emotions. It’s a win/win. Oh, and don’t argue with me about the chocolate. I know there are plenty of sugar haters out there… I see you and respect you, but stay away from my dark chocolate sea salt caramels…

The moral of the story is that we all have struggles.  How we handle them is part of our own personal journey.  These are just some of the things that help me when I’m having a hard time.  The only way you can do it wrong is if you’re causing harm to yourself or projecting it onto others.  So pay attention. Self awareness goes a long way when things get difficult. And be sure to remember that ‘feelings are just visitors, so let them come and go” (Mooji quote).  Ride the waves of life and know that you’re not alone. I’m sending you all so much love today :)