I have been having a series of what I perceive as “bad things” happen this year. To be honest it has been bad on and off the past 5 years but this year has SUCKED! My heart has broken into a million pieces over many things. I have suffered loss upon loss and have felt most days like I am stuck in some kind of unending nightmare.
I have absolutely 100% hated it.
I have moaned, cried, kicked, screamed, pled for it to end, cried some more and been a misery. I don’t like life not going my way in only one area. I hate it even more when my entire life topples like dominoes, one after the other.
After much self –pity, justifiable grief, humiliation and rebellion I picked myself up. It became time to put my big girl panties back on and decide to make this season a blessing and a time I will have made some life enriching changes.
The fact is this: Bad times are part of life. No matter how smart, wealthy or lucky we are we all face tragedy, loss or hardship at some point in our lives. It is how we face and walk through our hard times that determine how rich the experience can be and whether or not we come out better for it or more broken.
Havelock Ellis, a famous British physician and psychologist, was famously quoted as saying “Pain and death are part of life. To reject them is to reject life itself”. It is an interesting thought. Hardship, loss, pain and tragedy are a part of life. They are a part of the experience of living and all of that experience is a gift. To reject the experience of the bad times is to reject all the beauty of life.
Here are a few strategies I have learned in the bad times to set me up to flourish when the good times come back around.
- Acceptance is the First Step towards Healing
Being aware of and accepting that bad times are inevitable in life is the initial step to getting the best out of our bad times. When we avoid the reality of the loss or the unlooked for change, we cause ourselves persistent suffering.
I can tell you from experience that we also make very bad choices when we continue to hold on for longer than we should. I have made colossal ones that have cost me deeply by not accepting what has happened and it’s implications.
The sooner we accept the new situation, the new painful reality and all its implications, then the better decisions we will make to care for ourselves, physically, emotionally and financially.
Denial and holding on means a world of further trouble and keeps us trapped in despair, hopelessness and powerlessness.
Bad times are inevitable, the suffering caused by the bad times is optional.
Acceptance and letting go means you are suddenly opened up to a new world of exciting possibilities and options. Let go of the past.
Let go of the hurt. Let go of the old. Accept what is and you will find yourself on a new adventure.
- Realistically Act on the Truth
Once we have accepted our situation, we need to develop a realistic plan of action. The plan of action should be within the confines of the resources we have (emotionally, physically and otherwise) and within our best interests. Take stock of what will nourish you, excite you, inspire you and give you hope.
In your plan for moving forward, act quickly and with your own well-being the priority as you plan to move forward. If you do, you will make smart and loving choices for yourself and your loved ones.
When acting on the problem, ensure that your actions bring the best out of you and bring the best to the situation and others.
Solutions that leave us poorer and weaker than before should be avoided and inaction will create further problems.
- Have a Strong Group of Supporters
We need support. We need love and we need a cheering squad. Human beings were born to live as a community and in relationship. Sharing our bad experiences with people not only sets us free of them but also unveils better options that we never thought of. They also provide a soft cushion in the overwhelm.
I found that in my darkest hours this year that one thing I am immensely rich in is love. I have the best of friends and family. I have people and having people instantly lightens the load and creates moments of joy. The most amazing network formed round me like a tight hedge of comfort and protection. Old friends flew across the world to be with me and close ones brought me food, love and sat and let me cry. I needed it. It kept me alive some days when the grief was threatening to overwhelm. It kept me hopeful, gave me some relief and carried me when I couldn’t.
This one area alone I would encourage above all others. It has been the biggest source of joy and richness for me and really did show me that what I saw as a bad time revealed tremendous gifts of loving people.
- Be Authentic
This is a hard one but liberating. It is also related to the previous point. When you are in these times, it is very natural to withdraw and only try and brave it alone. It is so important to be completely yourself and to be sharing this time with people.
It is amazing the gifts hardships can give us and the gift of learning authenticity is one that sticks. When you are stripped of all the things that prop you up and you are a big ball of pain, it is hard and destructive to pretend to be anything other.
You need to talk it all out. All your fears, all your pain, all your crazy and you need to let people love you in that mess. It is vital and it is healthy. And you need to learn to love you in that mess.
I learned this year that the more I let people into my life warts and all, the more connected I became. The more they were allowed to love me and wanted to love me, the happier I was. It rounded me out, destroyed my barriers and defenses and has allowed me to realise I can let down the guard because your people actually love you harder and more rather than leave in disgust.
I have learned to love myself in my mess and really deeply let others see it. Ironically my slef esteem has never been better! I no longer feel the need for perfection to gain approval or connection and that is a huge gift right away that I am going to carry through life.
My bad time created and authenticity and self acceptance that allowed me the courage to write this to complete strangers and it has pushed me gently toward taking risks for the things I want.
- Down Does not Mean You are Out
Life is about learning from our mistakes and making a better tomorrow. This means that everyone is offered a second chance in life. After we have accepted our bad times, shared them, and acted positively, we should take the second chance that life has to offer.
These times can feel like a sad leaving behind of something. The truth is it can be an exciting step forward toward something else. Choose to look forward with expectation of a good future and plan for your best.
When I accepted that all my loss was actually necessary to move me into the direction I always wanted to go, I actually stopped gripping on to the shreds of what was and suddenly felt free. Free to choose and suddenly free to take massive action. What a feeling it was to do that.
I became unblocked and lost a lot of fear. The things I lost this past year I realised were not what I had wanted long term but things I took and held because I had started to compromise. I was holding on with both hands to my second best and my slate was pretty much wiped clean for me to start again.
It feels powerful to create a plan for making my life how I dreamed and being free to have a do-over.
When bad things happen tell yourself:
- It is not the end of your life it is just the close of one chapter for the beginning of the next.
- Choose how you will make the experience count and how you will set yourself up going forward.
- Take the lessons from the experience, allow yourself to grow.
- And remember that THIS TOO SHALL PASS