Sometimes it just seems that every time you manage to take a step forward, you fall two steps back. How can you get anywhere? How can you climb up the ladder when someone keeps taking the steps away? How can you fight back? The struggles, experiences, and pitfalls are endless, and hopefully so are the solutions. I hope everyone joins in with some of their ideas on beating the odds when the pits loams in front of you.
Seeking answers we can all use when things go bad
I imagine you have all been there a time or two, the boulder is taking you down; the walls are closing in; the world is against you; the list goes on, right?
I have been there myself sometimes, and I am desperately seeking a way out of that place.
A way that won't start falling apart the moment I use it. I bet you are too.
I thought, perhaps, if we worked together we could find a way out that will remain intact for us to use each and every time we start to fall down that pit. Perhaps we can help each other find a way around the boulder before it starts to pull us into that deep dark pit.
Before I begin, let me first explain that I am not a physician, or a psychologist, or anything like that. I have never been trained on how to find someone who has fallen into their deep dark hole and help them to climb out of it once more. I only have my own experiences to rely on and some of the tricks that have helped me get back to what is important in my life. There are so many possible solutions out there; one doesn’t always work every time, so I try to keep an arsenal of ideas that might help, and I was hoping you (all of you who are reading this right now) will offer up some ideas as well.
I have noticed that one thing always happens:
When I start to feel that boulder sneaking up behind me, I don’t try to fight the feelings of depression, falling, anger, walls closing in, etc. because this only helps the feelings grab a tighter hold and pull me down that much faster. Instead I try to seek the cause of them. An example would be: “I feel depressed because the day has been absolutely dreadful and I can’t seem to find anything good to help”-- if I just keep trying to make the day better and avoid the pitfalls, then it will simply get worse and the pitfalls will be so numerous that I can’t help but fall deeper. Whatever it was that caused it, started that huge boulder moving along and it just kept pulling me along for the ride.
What was the cause?
How do I find it?
I try to look at the day so far-it only takes a moment--why did it start bad? Was it a typically hectic morning that just seemed to take its toll today? Was it a letter from a collection agency? Was it a scolding from my boss? I take a deep breath and let my mind wander through the day seeking that vital moment. Sometimes, I can clearly see and identify it. (In my case it is usually rising from the bed to find the cats have made a mess of something or hearing my granddaughter arguing with her mother again.)
Once I see the cause, and the reasoning behind it, I try to look a bit closer. Could I have changed the cause? Was it something I could have done differently? If it was, then I try to think of it as a lesson learned (rather than a bad day starting). Or was it something that I couldn’t have done anything about? Then I accept it as something that happened that I can’t change. Yes, it started the day badly, but I couldn’t have done it differently so I just have to accept it and move on. The next few items don’t seem quite so huge once I have identified the initial cause and faced it.
Suddenly the boss’s words make sense to me and I find I can take the feedback as feedback not criticism and move on to the next task. Everything will seem to be that much less of a hardship and more of a lesson and/or difficult path that I am conquering. Things will begin to get easier (at least I hope they will).
No answers you can use yet?
Don't stop now, read on for more ideas.
Okay, okay, that doesn’t always work.
Sad but true.....
Sometimes there just isn’t a point that I can see and say “yup that’s where it started”, sometimes it just was bad from the very beginning--ripped my pants putting them on; got a hole in my sock when I tried to put it on; my purse lost a handle (or my wallet fell apart); the car wouldn’t start; the boss hated my proposal; I’ll stop here because I don’t want to make it too bad. So everything just went wrong from the moment I climbed out of bed.
How can I fix that? I can’t, not really, but I can face it differently. I mean, yeah the clothes ripped or the boss hated my proposal, etc. that doesn’t mean the day is automatically ruined. I try to think of it this way--guess I wasn’t supposed to wear that outfit today; or I knew I should have put more facts in there (and I ask the boss if I can revise it); now the day is still bad, but I’m not falling into the pit with that huge rolling boulder anymore, rather I am standing on a desk and letting the boulder roll by while I remain safe and unharmed by it. (Well, you try to come up with a metaphor that works and see how easy it is.)
Sadly, though, that one doesn’t always work either.
Let’s face it, we all know that sometimes we are just plain angry at the world because the world is angry at us and no matter what we do it will not get better!
What do I do when that happens? Well, I curl up in a ball and cry shamelessly until I have no tears left. Then I get up, wipe my eyes and try to start the day all over again. It isn't bad to break down once in awhile, in fact sometimes it is better to lose it for a bit instead of waiting until the steam builds up to explosive levels.
You could: race out to the park and have a good cry; toss stones at the water; slam your head into a pillow repeatedly; stomp your feet on the grass a few times; race to the restroom and lock yourself in for a good five minute cry; grab the papers in the recycle bin and crunch them in your fist several times; toss your pencil in the trash as hard as you can; or just plain take a deep breath and let it out a few times while letting out some of that frustration with it as you count (very slowly) to twenty.
Is that it? Is it really that easy? As I said before there is never a path that works the same way each time, or that works the same for everyone. You have to try different things and seek different answers. So what else is there? Well, sometimes, if you meditate at the end of each day and at the beginning of each day, you can deal with the bad stuff at a calmer level and things don’t seem quite so bad. Or, sometimes it just takes a good laugh to drag us back to reality (anyone know a good joke or two?). Or, sometimes, we need to seek help from others, and that’s okay too. If you can’t find your way out, no matter what you have tried, then seek the help of someone else. It could a trusted friend, a family member, or an uninvolved third party (counselor, etc.) that you go to, but they can help to bring out the issues and help you face them so you can move on without falling back. The best part of that is they can help you see that the boulder is actually a tiny pebble that picks up your problems and keeps piling on more (like a snowball that you turn into a snowman).
Now, am I finished with my solutions?
No, there are always more, but I thought it might be nice to save this section for others who have ideas of their own on how to get out of the pit and avoid that rolling boulder.
I have some ideas that I use that work for me!
When none of the above work, try to find something that makes you happy and smile.
The world might just fall into place when you do.
It's hard to smile when everything is going wrong, but trying to picture in your mind a special place that makes you happy can help. I love autumn with the colorful leaves and beautiful scenery. I can sometimes picture them and it makes me feel much better. I also like to picture snowflakes, kitty cats, and my grandchildren for a little boost of smile power.
What makes you smile?
Maybe thoughts of a party will work,
or a storybook you used to read.
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