Help if You are Going through a Difficult Time. Many of us are going through a difficult time, especially through the past few years through the pandemic.
Now that we think that is more or less over, we are now faced with what’s happening in Russia etc etc. That doesn’t include what is happening in our personal lives.
We could in addition the above, we could be experiencing a big loss such as a bereavement, a toxic situation, financial problems health issues, or natural disasters.
When we are going through a difficult time also trying to be positive won’t help. In fact, hearing someone telling you to be positive can be quite irritating. It is also not about willpower and even having blind faith won’t help.
Having a strategy to help you cope with what you are going through is the best way forward. It will provide you with the fuel to keep going.
It’s not about trying all these strategies; you will be better off trying one or two at first. When you become proficient in those tools, you can move on to try some more.
The aim here is to try and have a wide array of tools so that you’ll always have something that works, no matter what you’re going through.
Please also bear in mind that, practice and consistency is what makes these tools work. The more you practice and the more consistent you are, these will become easier to do and they will work better.
Finally, we can’t often control many of the things that happen to us but by trying to take care of ourselves as best as we can, it would reduce the impact of those struggles.
1. Watch the words you say to yourself
What you say to yourself matters. Your choice of words can either build you up or tear you down.
So, if you are using words like “Don’t Be Stupid”, “Why are you Feeling like this!”, and “You should be feeling better now”. Being so judgmental about yourself and unkind, firstly it is important to remember that those untrue words are not helpful and are unkind.
I can say categorically that you wouldn’t say those things to a friend, especially when they are hurting and upset already. You know that you will hurt them more and they wouldn’t stay friends for very long. So why do you say those things to yourself?
If you struggle to say kind words to yourself, maybe just try and ask yourself if you would say those words to a friend? What would you say to your friend if they were in your circumstances and struggling that will be helpful?
There is an old Buddhist saying that is also useful to use. It is generally used to help you speak kindly to others, but you can use this method to help you. It is called the Three Gate Keepers. The Reach Approach explains more in detail about it here.
You use the Three Gate Keepers to guard against the words that you use against yourself by questioning: Is it Kind? Is it Helpful? And is it Truthful?
Many of the words we say against ourselves aren’t the truth and it definitely not kind or in any way helpful especially when we are going through difficulties anyway.
2. Allow yourself to make mistakes
This point is more about a change in mindset rather than practicing a strategy. Often our mindset can get in the way of helping us to cope with difficulties and challenges in our lives. Allowing yourself to make mistakes is a really important one.
I did a previous blog on Making Mistakes linked here.
It is important to allow yourself to make mistakes because often when we are facing difficulties, especially if it at the result of mistakes we feel we have made in our lives, things we have regretted, or things we are ashamed of, we can use it as a huge stick to beat ourselves up with.
Or it can paralyze us in making further choices and decisions because we are worried about making more mistakes. This can make our difficulties seem insurmountable as we can feel stuck in our current situations.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t feel some hurt or even some shame or guilt over things we have done because we may have hurt someone or even ourselves. Not feeling any shame or hurt over things we have done would more or less make us Psychopaths or Sociopaths! Having a level of guilt and shame would keep us in check.
However, beating yourself up over and over and not seeing past it won’t help you. Even if you are going through a difficult time because of mistakes, you could have made or regrets you have, no matter what they are, this won’t help you or the other people you may have hurt.
So, what can we do?
As a starting point, we could examine ourselves or other people involved to see if there is anything you can learn from it. You may need a trusted friend or therapist to help you do this as it is important to be non-judgemental and objective here.
From that, if we can make things right, we should allow ourselves to do that but at some point, we need to move on from what has happened.
3. Manage your emotions
There are so many useful tools to help you manage your emotions. If you struggle with managing your emotions, you will find it easy to feel overwhelmed, very anxious and helpless, numb, or even find yourself having anger issues etc.
Learning what you are feeling would help you know what you need and then you would be able to respond better especially when you are going through a difficult time.
By knowing what you feel you could help yourself and help others to help you.
I often use a brilliant tool called the Feeling Table. I have a link to it here.
The table is split into two halves. The top half of the table describes negative emotions and the bottom half positive emotions. One way of using it is that you can select from the table which emotion or emotions represent how you feel then continually use it to help you name your feelings.
Naming your feelings then accepting them for what they are without judging them or pushing them away will go a long way to helping you to feel better.
This also includes allowing yourself to have bad days and those bad moments. Forcing yourself to feel good will only build up negative emotions which will, unfortunately, backfire over time.
Allow yourself time to feel all your emotions, no matter what they are, and not judge yourself for what you are feeling. Crying is so helpful and it helps to release those emotions. Letting your tears flow will be helpful for you.
4. Check in with yourself – Daily
Another way to help understand and learn about your emotions is to use another useful tool called the Feelings Scale 1 – 10. I explained how to use it here but basically what you do is rate how you are feeling from 1 to 10.
1 is that you are feeling really good with no issues, you are totally calm and feeling peaceful. No. 10 is as bad as it gets for you, you have hit rock bottom and the worst you generally feel.
This tool is totally subjective, and you decide for yourself what is a 1 or 10.
By checking in with yourself and rating how you are feeling, you can use this in a journal and then keep a record of what you found helpful to help you be the lower number; what didn’t help you to be the higher number.
Over time you would have a clear record of what works for you and what doesn’t.
5. Try to Manage your time in a way that works better for you
If you had broken your legs or become physically ill, would you expect to do the same number of things that you were able to do when you were physically well?
Then why do you have the same expectations of yourself to do the same things when you are going through a difficult time and struggling emotionally?
It is so important at this time to manage your time well, especially your work-life balance.
Just ask yourself: Do you need to do all those things for all those people? How often do you have a proper lunch break? How can you carve time for you to truly rest?
6. Set Good Boundaries
This pretty much leads on from the previous question, but this is pretty much about knowing your limits and then trying to set them to protect yourself.
Dealing with other people’s stuff as well as your own is difficult at the best of times but when you are going through difficulties, this would feel especially overwhelming. It would be natural to feel at this point, less able to cope with things.
Just remember the following helpful statements:
- I can say no, even if someone else doesn’t like it.
- I can change my mind, even if I disappoint someone.
- It is not okay for anyone to humiliate me.
- I have the right to ask for more information when I am confused.
- It is okay to tell someone that I do not like how he or she is speaking to me.
- I can leave the room if someone yells at me.
- I can end relationships that are hurtful to me.
- I can tell myself to stop being so critical or hurtful to me.
7. What do you hope for?
When you are going through difficulties that rock your world, it could leave you feeling stuck and not sure what you want for your life.
Having hope is not necessarily doing something or changing your life right now, it is about having a vision in mind you would like for your future or your day-to-day life and being clear about it.
It doesn’t need to be anything big, very often it is the small things that we look forward to in our day-to-day life that is helpful.
8. Mind-Body Connection
How you feel affects your body and it’s important to recognise that it happens in the opposite way as well. What is happening in your body affects how you feel as well. We need our bodies to cope with day-to-day life, so it is important to give our bodies what it needs to manage what we are going through.
This means managing what we are eating making sure we can get our energy from what we eat that would help our bodies rather than a copious number of coffees or alcohol.
Sleep is also important. If we are not sleeping properly, how can we begin to think clearly?
It won’t take much to start to feel better but it is important to understand the effect of what we do to our bodies will have on our minds.
It is the same when we are physically unwell, having that self-compassion that we are already struggling with our difficulties, plus feeling unwell.
What to do next
Hope you found this useful.
Are there any of these that you would like to try first? Remember it is not about doing all of them to feel better, you could go a long way to feeling better by doing small things, one step at a time
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