This post is for anybody going through a tough time. Whether it’s a break-up, bereavement, a fall out with a friend or just an awful period at work – I’m hoping that, by the time that you’ve finished reading this, you will feel better (even if it’s only slightly).
My friends and family tell me that I give good advice – my Mum calls me their ‘councillor extraordinaire’ - which makes me wonder if I’m in the wrong profession. But I have to hold my hands up and say that I’m not an expert on these types of situations, not by a long shot, so please don’t expect me to radically change your life. My only aim is to help people. This desire comes from my own experiences - I particularly hate seeing the ones that I love down so I try my best to comfort them in any way I can.
Below are just a few tips for anyone feeling negative or down about anything in life. It is my hope that you will read them and they will provoke a more positive way of thinking, to help you tackle or come to terms with what you’re going through.
1. Try to see the bigger picture.
What you’re going through probably feels like the worse thing in the world right now. You might feel like you’re never going to get out of this slump that you’re in. You might feel that life is hopeless, maybe even not worth living. But remember, you are just one person out of seven billion people in the world. There are kids starving in Africa, there are people on the streets without a home and there are natural disasters happening every day. You have to put what you’re going through in perspective and try to realise that there are worse things going on in the world.
2. Try to see the positive.
This sort of touches on the first point, but this time I’m referring to your specific situation. Your boyfriend made a drunken mistake on a night out? He could have been having an affair for months behind your back. Your Nan died of cancer? At least she’s not suffering anymore. You had a massive argument with your best friend? At least you’ve cleared the air and got to say everything you’ve been feeling for so long. I often think that a bad situation could always be worse. Of course, it does depend what the situation is and I do appreciate that each one is different.
3. Allow yourself to feel what you want to feel.
I think it’s important that you allow yourself to feel whatever you want to feel during this difficult time. If you’re mad, rage. If you’re sad, cry. The truth is, you will probably go through a whole range of emotions whilst the situation is still raw – and that’s okay. One thing that I realised when I lost my Grandparents is that it’s okay to cry. I originally made the mistake of thinking that I had to be strong for everybody else, but it only led to me breaking down at a later date. Crying is good as an emotional outlet – I always feel ten times better afterwards. So allow yourself to let it out, however and whenever you feel comfortable. There isn’t a right or wrong answer in these types of situations. Those who love you will understand and won’t judge you for it.
4. Use your support system.
Friends and family are there for a reason. They are the people that are supposed to pick you up when shit happens in life. You need a network of people around you that care for you and are there for you no matter what. They should want the best for you and only want you to be happy at the end of the day. And they will do their damnedest to make sure that happens. Whether it means being a shoulder to cry on, or letting you rant to them on the phone for hours, they will be there if they’re true to you. It’s times like this that make you realise who your true friends are as well. The ones who care will look after you, no questions asked. I’m not saying that the ones who disappear or fade into the background don’t care, some people honestly don’t know what to say - especially if they haven’t been through what you’re going through. In my opinion, they should at least send a message offering some sympathy or small words of comfort, just to show you that they are thinking of you. If they can’t take two minutes out of their busy schedule to even send you a text, then how much can they really care? Don’t waste your time and energy on people who won’t do the same for you. As for the ones that clearly do care, use them to help you. Are they offering to meet for a coffee to chat things through? Then meet them. Do they want to call you to check up on you? Make sure you answer the phone. Are they inviting you to go for cocktails to take your mind off things? Have a bloody cocktail! The truth is, you need to be around people right now. Don’t wallow in your own pool of self-pity. This brings me onto my next point nicely.
5. Distract yourself.
There will be times where you have a moment’s peace, usually first thing on a morning and last thing at night, to think about everything that’s going on. While it’s important that you process it and let it digest, you also need to make sure that you’re not dwelling on it. If you find yourself sat in the corner of your room in the dark going over and over everything in your mind, stop it. You need to steer your mind in a totally different direction to avoid over-thinking which leads to negative thoughts and emotions. The best thing you can do is find a distraction – watch TV, call a mate, go to the shops and get the thing you’ve been meaning to buy for weeks. Please don’t sit and dwell. It won’t help. You’ll just work yourself up into a frenzy and, at the end of the day, it won’t do anybody any good. It achieves nothing.
6. Everything happens for a reason.
I know a lot of people hate it, but I’m a big believer in fate and the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’. I always think, for example, if I hadn’t been to my Uni and met my course mate then I wouldn’t have met Kane, who lived in her halls, and I wouldn’t have got into a relationship with him and I wouldn’t have lived in Milton Keynes and I wouldn’t have got the job at Fossil and I wouldn’t have been able to save up to go travelling and I wouldn’t be about to embark upon the adventure that I’ve always dreamed of (etc etc). This can also work the opposite way. I do believe that there’s a set path that we’re all destined to take, as cheesy as it sounds. There’s lessons in life that we have to learn and you learn a lot from these difficult experiences. You might be kicking yourself because you made a mistake and you, yourself, have caused the negative situation that you’re in. But we’re only human at the end of the day and nobody’s perfect. Plus, if you hadn’t have made a mistake, you wouldn’t have been able to learn from it. It’s the mistakes and tough situations that make us stronger in life and the people that we are today. Be thankful for that. All the pain and anguish will be worth it in the end – it prepares you for the journey that lies ahead.
7. Remember life’s too short.
This is my favourite saying of all time. Yes, this big thing has just happened to you. It’s terrible. You’ve probably been angry/upset/frustrated for days. But how much longer do you plan on having this major battle with yourself? Not meaning to sound morbid, but you could die tomorrow. You never know what’s around the corner and there’s no point wasting your life being down. Life is for living and you should take every opportunity you can to be happy. We all deserve happiness. You deserve happiness.
8. Have faith.
In the end, you just have to believe that everything’s going to be okay. I’m also a big fan of the saying: ‘Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end’. You have to believe that things will get better because they will, in time. It’s proven. Just look at celebrities, for example. David Beckham cheated on Victoria – their marriage is still going strong. Angelina Jolie lost her Mum to ovarian cancer and then was diagnosed with it herself – she is still smiling and speaking out to help others. Granted, it’s not going to happen overnight. But you’ll reach a point where you will start to feel better with each day. Hours will turn into days, days will turn into weeks and, before you know it, you’ll feel like your old self again. There’s no set amount of time that it takes and you can’t rush it. But when the dark cloud has lifted, you’ll know it, and that’s where the new chapter of your life starts. Welcome back.