What to do when you’re struggling
Now and then, we all find ourselves in a situation where we are struggling. We find things tough. Maybe it’s because of how we feel physically or mentally. Maybe it’s because of a considerable setback or disappointment or lousy event in our life.
Often thought struggles don’t come from bad experiences. They come from how we respond to those experiences. In Buddhism, there is what is known as the second arrow problem. This means that when something terrible happens, we feel bad, which is the first arrow. Then we feel bad about feeling bad. That is the second arrow. The challenge is to reduce the impact of the second arrow by failing to allow yourself to fall into a negative spiral about the original bad experience or event.
When we struggle, we need to recognize that we are, indeed, struggling and not suffering. We are working to get through it. That is already a good thing. As we recognize that the challenges we face aren’t the entire cause of our negative feelings, we understand that we need to do something externally and internally to handle things effectively.
To me, there are four things we need to focus on:
Accept the present
One of the most important things to say, first of all, is that feeling bad about the fact that we’re feeling bad is never helpful. It’s critical to very quickly accept that things aren’t going your way right now, and that’s okay. Jim Rohn used to talk about the four seasons in life. We all get our winters. This may well be your winter. Accepting that and just focusing on what you need to do is vital.
Check the inner propaganda
Very often, when things are not going well in life, this can trigger us to start feeling down and impact how we see the world. We experience what is known as affective realism. Our emotions make us experience the world differently. When you’re down, you find it easier to think of other negative thoughts and to feel bad about anything and everything. Your brain actively searches for meanings and beliefs that disempower you. It’s crucial to recognize this happening and avoid dwelling for any length of time on what is happening.
Focus on the future
The next step is to focus on what you know from before are the best decisions to make and actions to take to get you the results you want. This means you need to decide what you want to achieve and then figure out how to go about making that happen. You must understand how to plan the future. Whatever situation you find yourself in, do what you need to today to make tomorrow better.
This too shall pass
Whatever is happening, just know this. As the ancient Persian saying goes, ‘this too shall pass’. It’s such a beautiful reminder of the transient nature of the world. Night and day. Day and night. There will be bad times and good times. The idea is to keep strong during the bad times and revel in the good times. In a nutshell, this is not a bad philosophy of life.
When you‘re struggling, there is no quick win or easy way to get through things. But these four suggestions will help.
P.S. Hope you have enjoyed the recent podcast episodes – some great interviews in there too. You can find all the latest episodes here to enjoy at your convenience.