“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
“If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.”
E. Joseph Cossman
Some days everything seems to just go wrong.
And sometimes it is not just days we’re talking about. But a week or months when things feel tough and rough and you just want go home and give up.
I’ve had many such days and periods but over the years I have also become a lot better at handling them. So they don’t drag me down and become a whole lot worse than they are already are.
Today I would like to share 10 things to remember when your whole day, week or month(s) seems to go wrong. All of them have been very valuable to me.
1. There is a brand new day tomorrow.
Just because this day or the last week didn’t go well doesn’t mean that there is not a brand new day tomorrow.
A day when you can start anew. With taking action to move towards what you want, likely having a bit more luck and when it will be easier to see that this difficult time is only temporary and not permanent (even if it might feel that way right now).
2. People don’t care that much about what I do.
When things go wrong then you may not only be troubled by that situation itself. But also by what the people around you may think or say about what happened.
Don’t worry too much about that though. Because even though you may be the main character in your own life you are not it in everybody else’s lives.
They have their kids, pets, jobs and own challenges that they are fully focused on.
3. What is going well in my life though?
It is very easy to get stuck in focusing on the negative things and so they drag you further and further down into self-criticism and negativity.
But don’t forget that there are still things that are going well in your life. It may be small things. Or things you often take for granted like a roof over your head, clean water or three steady meals every day.
I find that zooming out in this way helps me a lot to snap out of destructive thought patterns and to feel more level-headed again.
4. Criticism or destructive attacks may not be about me at all.
Sometimes criticism is certainly valid and should be listened to if you want to improve in life.
But don’t make the common mistake of always thinking that the criticism or verbal attacks you receive are about you or something you did.
Because you do not know what is going on in the other person’s life right now. How he might be having a bad day or week himself. How she is miserable about her job, boss or marriage.
Sometimes you might simply be in the wrong place as this person needs to lash out to release the pent up inner pressure.
5. I can ask for help.
When things go wrong and you feel alone with the challenge then you feel even worse.
But you don’t have to. You can ask for help and may be surprised at how the people in your life will come to give a hand or some sound advice.
Or you can find a group of people online that are going through the same challenge as you – like for example reducing debt or getting into better shape – and get support when you are going through a tough patch.
Or you can go and talk to a counselor, therapist or doctor in your local area.
There is usually good help and support to be found. Even though it may not always feel like it before you ask.
6. Will this matter 5 months – or even 5 weeks – from now?
When you have setback, make mistake or fail then it might feel like the sky is falling.
I have found the question above to be really helpful in these situations to not fall into the trap of feeling like a powerless victim.
It helps me to relax, to zoom out and to see this setback in a larger perspective and to see that even though it is a big thing right now it will most likely now have that much of a negative impact in the long run.
7. I have handled tough situations in the past.
When you are standing in the middle of things going wrong then it is easy to get a bit panicky. To lose faith in yourself and your abilities.
Then look to the past for a bit of strength and confidence in what you can do.
Doing this helps me to feel like I am standing on firmer ground again. And sometimes I can even find a solution I used for another challenge in the past that I can reuse or readjust to get me out of this situation too.
8. Setbacks can be very valuable if I let them.
A common way of looking at failures, mistakes and obstacles on your journey is as something negative and things that should be avoided.
But trying to actively avoid them at any price usually leads to analysis paralysis and a lack of taking any significant action at all.
And the setbacks and mistakes in life can actually be very helpful if you let them. Before you start moving on from one of them ask yourself:
What is one thing I can learn from this situation?
That question has helped me to improve a lot about how I do things in life and to avoid repeating making the same mistakes over and over again.
9. Focus more on the small how-tos and less on the whys.
Processing what happened is certainly important. But instead of taking the common route of dwelling on the whys of the negative situation 80% or the time and looking for solutions 20% of the time switch those numbers around.
Spend more of your time on finding the small and practical steps you can take to make things better.
By doing so you’ll start to feel more confident and less suffocated and paralyzed as you are moving forward once again (even if it is just by taking one very small step at first).
10. It is always darkest before the dawn.
This thought helped me to hold on when things looked bleak for many months and to keep going when my social skills and dating life was just plain bad.
It helped me to keep going when things looked like they would never pick up for my own small online business.
Why? Because I have found it to be true.
When things seemed to be at the lowest point something always happened. Often because being at that low point forced me to change something in how I did things.
But maybe also because life seems to have some kind of balance if I just keep going. If I keep taking action instead of giving up and doing nothing then something good always happens.
Seeing this repeat itself year after year strengthened my belief in taking action and to keep going even on rough days or weeks.
And it brings some comfort even when things look pretty dark.
Copyright Henrik Edberg 2006-2014