Even the most balanced and connected people go through periods of
stress, difficulties and struggles. Here are some thoughts to remember
when you’re going through tough times, from my perspective as a
psychologist and also as someone who has had my fair share of ups and
downs. I hope it helps!
1. You Are Loved
If you feel like you are wading through darkness right now, the first thing I want to tell you is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Even if it feels like you are completely alone, you are not. You are
loved, and there ARE people in this world who love and care about you.
The same spark of light that animates me also animates you
and every other living creature. Someone told me once that Namaste
means “the light within me recognizes the light within you” – and even
if you do not feel that light within yourself right now, it is still there and the people around you can recognize it.
Now is the time to connect with the people who love you, even if you
feel resistance or trepidation about reaching out. Maintaining these
human connections is really important for your well-being. For example, a
recent survey showed that not staying in touch with friends and family
is one of thetop five regrets of the dying . Research in social psychology also shows that having close friends and a supportive social group is one of the strongest predictors of happiness.
So make some effort to reach out and spend some time with the people
you love, right now. Send a message, or a text, pick up the phone to say
I love you or arrange to meet for coffee or dinner. Do not be afraid to
ask for help if you are having a hard time, your loved ones will
2. Your Feelings are Here to Guide You
when we are going through a tough time, we desperately want OUT of it.
We long to feel good, to get back to being connected or feeling like
“ourselves” again. And because that balanced, happy part of us can feel
so very far away, our continued longing to get back there just makes us
Sometimes, surrendering is actually the best way out of the darkness.
Instead of resisting the feelings you have, allow yourself to experience
them. Sit with them, understand them, and nurture them. Our feelings
are not coincidental impulses to be suppressed or ignored, but road-maps
of our inner worlds, Divine tools here to help guide our thoughts and
behaviors. So if you are feeling depressed, sad, angry, alone,
frustrated, anxious, stressed, (etc), perhaps there is a reason WHY and you are supposed to go deep within yourself to explore that reason.
If this is sounding a little bit like Buddhist philosophy to you, it
is because I am heavily inspired by the work of Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, in particular his beautiful book, True Love.
In it, he discusses mindfully sitting with your anger and nurturing
your anger as if it were a crying baby. This practice brings you into a
state of present awareness and connection to your higher self, allowing
you to process and work through the emotions from a place of love. Just
dong this can make you feel better, because sometimes, the lack of
connection and present awareness is what brought about the feelings of
emotional pain. to begin with.
3. Life Isn’t ‘Easy’ for Anyone
One of the worst pitfalls comes when you believe that you have it tougher than everyone else. Facing life with “poor me” attitude or victim mentality does NOT
serve you: It will not make you feel better, and it may alienate and
isolate you from the very people whose support you are seeking. When we
become victims in our lives, we tend to manifest events, people and
situations that continue to reinforce how terrible everything has
The reality is, life isn’t “easy” for ANYONE! So many people go
through all kinds of difficulties and struggles- We all have ups and
downs. In other words, if we all threw our problems into a pile, you
might be pretty quick to take yours back. Besides, this is NOT a
competition about who has suffered more, or who has gotten a worse deal.
This is about YOU and getting yourself out of the state you are in..
If you find that you are regularly comparing yourself to other people
and then feeling bad about yourself or your life, just remember that
the human mind is somewhat programmed to function like this. Indeed,
according to social comparison theory
in social psychology , it is our natural inclination to compare
ourselves to other people and then derive our self esteem from these
comparisons. However, I am a firm believer that once you become AWARE of
a programmed behavior, through being present and mindful of the
thinking pattern you can alter it when it emerges.
4. You are NOT Supposed to be Perfect
Sometimes, when we see other people with all these amazing
accomplishments and abilities, it can make us feel pretty low (there’s
that urge to make social comparisons rearing it’s ugly head again!). I
can’t tell you how many times I have heard wonderfully brilliant,
talented people beat themselves up and tell me that they are not good
enough or that they don’t measure up. In my opinion, this is not true
because NOBODY really has it all together or has everything figured out!
What I’m trying to say is that no matter how accomplished, talented and amazing we are… We all make mistakes! Sometimes we make a lot
of mistakes, all the time! One could even argue that screwing up is
what we humans do best. I have messed up so many times in my life, I am
so far from perfect or having things together, and I love this about
myself because I am a HUMAN! I personally believe that making mistakes
and learning from them is one of the most important parts our human
journey here on Earth.
So when you make mistakes, embrace them and learn from them. It
doesn’t mean you are a bad person, or that you are unworthy of love, or
that you don’t measure up. Nobody is going to hate you for messing up.
In fact, according to the “pratfall effect” in social psychology,
making mistakes can actually make you more likeable to other people! So
forgive yourself and move on. You’re not perfect, and you’re not
supposed to be perfect.