When you feel like you’re living in dire times you’ll often hear people tell you to look at the bigger picture, or to look at what you’re going through in the grand scheme of your life. What do you do though, if life has dealt you so many blows that the big picture is now a mural flooded with bad experiences? And what if the few good times have become barely visible?
When your vision of the future only reflects a past plagued with the misfortune you’re desperate not to repeat, you’ll be relieved to hear there are still things you can do to ease the stress, even if momentarily.
Sit back and wait
There may be an impulse for you to make quick decisions or to do something you don’t want to do, simply because you feel your options have run out. Unless it’s a matter of health or life and death, my advice to you is to step back, take a breath and wait before making your move. It may be for a day, a week, or for however long you’re able to. Take refuge in the fact that you have a fall back, but see what appears in the space between then and now. In that space, be as open as you can to all that comes your way and widen your horizons.
Separate your goal from your outcome
People get confused between their goals and their outcomes all the time. When you’re going through difficult situations it’s even more important that you distinguish between the two. So if you’re about to be homeless, decide whether your goal of buying your dream house is what you need to be focused on, or whether it’s the actual outcome of living somewhere that feels like home and is comfortable and safe.
Vocalise your wants and needs
Speak about what it is you need at this moment in your life and what you’re going through. Don’t complain and try not to moan, but do remember that one of most destructive things you can do is keep everything inside and suffer in silence. Being honest with the right people is the best way to signal that you need help.
Rely on people, seek help and grab it with both hands
If you’re the sort of person who finds asking for help difficult, you need to get over this fast. It may be reaching out to a family member, a colleague, a friend, or whoever feels appropriate for you and the situation. Not only does asking for help show you who will be there when you most need them, it releases untold pressure from you when you receive it. If you would do almost anything to get out of the predicament you’re in, then asking for help should be way up the list.
Leave your comfort zone
Answers to dire straits rarely materialise in our comfort zones, sometimes we need to search solutions out and this can leave us feeling vulnerable. Again, you need to suck it up and get on with it. As tough as this sounds, what is most crucial at this moment in time is that you find a way out of the pain or difficulty you’re in. Sometimes the best route is the most challenging, but it’s no reason to dismiss it.
Know your rock bottom
Be very sure about what your rock bottom is and acknowledge the fact that you’ve not yet hit it. This is a time to reign in the dramatics and to get very real about what is actually happening, not what it feels like is happening. Knowing your rock bottom, and knowing how far you are from it, means you still have more options left than what your mind may be telling you. Never take this for granted.
Do something you shouldn’t
Lastly – and this is advice that you need to be careful with and make a personal decision about – you have the option to do something that, in your situation, might seem silly or risky. It doesn’t mean punting your home on a single bet or spending your mortgage money on a second-hand speedboat. I’m talking about choosing to have that massage instead of saving for a rainy day, or going out for dinner when you’ve just done a painstaking food shop on a budget. Sometimes in life we need to break out of the sensible, simply enjoy the moment and deal with the consequences later. Always ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen?