6 Things to Remember When Life Gets Rough
Help picking yourself up when the day seems to be conspiring to keep you down
Everyone has good days and bad days, but the trick is not to let the tough ones spiral out of control and continue into the next day. Fortunately, there are some specific and empowering things you can do to help keep your spirits up even in the midst of challenges. Here are six things to remember when life gets tough:
1. You Are Not Your Circumstances
No matter what happens to you in life, remember that who you are is so much more than the things that are occurring around you, to you or within you. Don’t let past or present challenges or setbacks define who you are. You are so much more than your life circumstances, and you can always take steps to transcend them and make a better life for yourself. Come back to this touchstone, this transcendent part of yourself, anytime you feel challenged or discouraged.
2. You Are Not Your Thoughts or Emotions
One of the principles of Buddhist mindfulness meditation is to strive to “become the watcher” of your thoughts and emotions. Just as what happens to you (or has happened to you in the past) should not define who you are, you should also strive to realize and know that you are not your thoughts or emotions. You have thoughts and emotions – we all do – but they are not who we are.
Mediation is a valuable tool in cultivating this awareness and ability; find that still place within where you can watch and observe the thoughts and emotions that come and go within you. As your “watcher” dimension grows stronger, you will be less prone to being taken over by your thoughts and emotions even in response to life’s challenges. You’ll feel more peaceful, resourceful and able to make better decisions from the heart going forward.
3. There Is No Such Thing as Failure, Only Feedback
Not defining anything as “failure” is actually one of the principles of neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP. NLP is a system of training the brain to work in ways that support a happy, fulfilled life. Try not to see the temporary setbacks in your life as failures; rather, see them as opportunities to learn, grow and make positive changes.
When something doesn’t go well in your life, find the gift of insight within the experience and what it can teach you. Learn from your mistakes, and reach out for help in making a change if needed. Strive to not make the same mistakes again while retaining the gift and lesson. With this attitude, you can continue to course-correct and make your life better and better.
4. Take Control of Your Stories
Another Buddhist concept that can serve as an empowering reminder is the idea of “emptiness.” In Buddhism, this is not a negative term; rather, it refers to the fact that everything in this world only has meaning when we assign it. Putting this into practice goes hand in hand with step 3; at the very least, every challenge we face should be seen as a valuable opportunity to learn about ourselves and to grow.
Being aware that nothing has inherent meaning can allow you to be more proactive about how you choose to see the things that happen to you. This isn’t about denial; it’s about reframing the things that happen to you in the most positive and resourceful light possible.
5. Shift Into Gratitude
Gratitude is one of the most powerful states we can experience. It brings us into the powerful, peaceful, present moment and shifts our mood and aura immediately. Instead of dwelling on setbacks, do a 180-degree turn and spend some time thinking about the things you are grateful for. Your list doesn’t have to be elaborate or grandiose; things like having a roof over your head, clothes to wear, the fact that you’re sleeping well, or that you are making progress in your goals are all things to be grateful for. Ideally, you should practice gratitude every day.
6. Expect Magic and Miracles
The way our lives unfold is largely related to our expectations and our beliefs about what’s possible. How can you shift your expectations so that you are open to positive changes and amazing experiences? Strive to cultivate positive expectations in life. Work with a counselor or life coach if needed to identify any past experiences that might have made you cynical or negative.
You can change. Create an empowering affirmation or mantra to say daily, such as, “Every day, in every way, my life is getting better and better.” Heal old wounds and find renewed faith in life and what’s possible for you. Positive expectations can draw in amazing new life experiences like a magnet.
Life has its share of ups and downs, but you have control over how you respond to what happens. Use these six techniques for shifting your energy and outlook whenever you hit a rough spot.