Sometimes life is just really nasty and smacks us right down to the ground.
It feels awful and can leave us flailing, trying to figure out how to get back up again.
Here are ten things to tell yourself that might help you do just that. Be sure to check out the resources that go along with each idea.
1. I’ve made it through this (or worse) before.
Unfortunately, we can’t permanently escape pain in life. But this can actually be helpful: Remember that this is not the first time you’ve faced heartbreak, grief, emotional distress, or any other kind of calamity.
You made it through then and you will now even if you think this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you.
Great resource: Joan Borysenko’s It’s Not the End of the World: Developing Resilience in Times of Change
2. I accept myself just as I am – warts, shadows, and all.
Maybe you made a mistake. Maybe you failed at something. Maybe you were unkind. Or maybe you’re just having a hard time living with your painful emotions right now.
We all have shadow sides – those parts of us that aren’t pretty and that we’d rather push away.
Ever try to get rid of just the tails side of a coin? Pretty tough isn’t it? Just as the coin has two sides that make up its whole, so do we.
Accept yourself fully in this moment -both sides of you – just as you are. Notice your thoughts and feeling and make space for them. Realize that these thoughts and feelings are a part of you and, as such, need to be accepted rather than pushed away.
Great free resource: RAIN – Tara Brach
3. This, too, shall pass.
Everything does. Think about it.
Simple, but true, is it not?
Great resource (and one of my favorites): The Art of Resilience: 100 Paths to Wisdom and Strength in an Uncertain World – Carol Orsborn
4. Is there another way I can look at this?
It’s really easy to get stuck looking at a problem or crisis from just one angle.
See if there are other ways you can look at it.
Is there something to learn?
Is there another way to approach it?
Great free resource: 3 Simple Ways to Get a New Perspective on Monstrous Problems
5. Who can help me with this?
This is not the time to go it alone.
This is the time you gather your tribe and ask for their support in whatever way you need.
Great free resource: Ya Gotta Have Friends: 4 Essential Ideas for Bouncing Back
6. I will treat myself as I would my best friend were she going through this.
Give yourself a little love!
You would never say to your best friend the things you say about yourself in your head.
You probably wouldn’t even say them to an enemy!
Picture your best friend going through what you’re going through now. How would you treat her? What would you say? Now do and say those same things for yourself.
Great free resource: Soften, soothe, allow meditation by Dr. Kristin Neff. Or any of these compassionate meditations (including soften, soothe, allow) by Dr. Chris Germer.
7. How can I be kind to someone else?
Research is piling up showing that helping someone else when you’re feeling down not only assists that person, but also helps you generate positive emotions within you.
And experiencing positive emotions during adversity not only helps you feel good, but it expands your ability to problem-solve and handle difficult situations.
Scientific facts, folks, scientific facts. (You can find them in the Great Resource below.)
So get out there and do a couple of random acts of kindness. We’ll all feel better.
Great resource: Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life – Barbara Fredrickson
8. What good things are going on for me right now?
It’s true. Gratitude helps.
And it gets us more involved in life and out of our heads – a sometimes dangerous place!
Check out this quote by gratitude expert Robert Emmons:
In effect, I think gratitude allows us to participate more in life. We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures you get from life. Instead of adapting to goodness, we celebrate goodness. We spend so much time watching things—movies, computer screens, sports—but with gratitude we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators.
Great resource: The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want – Sonja Lyubomirsky
9. Sometimes life sucks.
Although having gratitude, creating positive emotions, and being self-compassionate are essential to making it through life’s storms, you don’t have to be Pollyanna.
You can do all of those things and still acknowledge that sometimes life is just plain hard.
It’s possible to hold two opposing things at once – both pain and joy. It’s hard, but possible.
Great free resource: On pain, tolerance, and why there are no bullet points.
10. [Deep breath] Stay . . . stay . . . stay . . . in the present.
Take a deep breath.
There, doesn’t that feel better?
Taking a deep breath and exhaling as though it were a huge sigh of relief stimulates your vagus nerve, a long, winding nerve that helps calm our bodies.
The other thing that taking a deep breath can do is serve as a trigger to remind you to stay in the present moment rather than ruing the past or fretting about the future.
When practicing staying present, American Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield suggests treating the wandering mind as you would a puppy that you are trying to teach to stay.
When the puppy gets up and moves after you tell it to stay, you wouldn’t yell at it, “No! I told you to stay! Can’t you do anything?”
Instead, you would set the puppy back in place and gently say, “Stay . . . stay . . . good boy . . . no, stay . . .”
Treat your mind as you would a puppy who is just learning about a new world.
Great free resource: Jack Kornfield – Meditation for Beginners
What do you think? What are some ways that help get you back up after life smacks you down?
Photo credits: Me 😉