There’s going be some people in the world, of the personal development sphere, who say things like ‘you don’t have to feel that way, you can change your feelings in an instant’. That you can be grateful and that gratitude is going to kind of ride you over the crest of this rubbish-feeling-wave. Now, I’m not saying that those things are untrue, however, we can explore a few easy alternatives, when expressing gratitude may be a bit out of reach…
Sometimes the things that are helpful and lovely to feel, are challenging because when you’re busy feeling a bit rubbish, putting some of that personal development stuff into action is not easy, even for someone like me and I know all the tricks – all of them!
Here are some simple principles to help you get yourself through the negative feeling and out the other side into the good feeling again. This isn’t: “here is a way to switch it off, here is a way for you to almost feel guilty about the fact that you feel bad, because you’re supposed to be feeling good all the time”. I don’t want to do that, and equally, I don’t want you to stay there any longer than you need to. When you’re in an environment (such as the workplace) where other people need to engage with you, it’s important that you do what you can for your mental health because it’s not just you that is affected.
I’m going to give you some ideas, which are about moving out of it. We’re not talking quick-fix stuff. We’re talking about giving you a little process, a little strategy, so that you can get yourself from A to B – and you’ll feel better just from the fact you got to B.
Number one: Let’s talk about time
We can use ‘time’ to our advantage because time can become a framework in which we decide proactively to make a decision to contain the suffering that we go into, in the experience. For example, when I woke up this morning, I wasn’t in a very good mood. There is some stuff going on with my family and in my personal life, that has been putting me into a ‘not’ very good headspace. But, I also know I had other stuff to do today. So what I did was, I gave myself a period of time, for which I was going to grieve and suffer – and have a little cry or do whatever I needed to do in that space.
Give yourself a period of time and then tell yourself when you’re going to stop. For me, I had other stuff that I knew I had to do today. I had to go and pay my property taxes, for example. I know the place where I go to pay it, closes at midday. So it’s like, ‘okay, I can have a few hours this morning, but I’ve got be out of here by 10 o’clock because if I’m not, then I’m not going have time to pay the property tax and it’s going to screw up other things that I want to do’. If you’re at work, speak to your employer about taking a break or switching tasks for a while.
The point being is that I gave myself a period of time in which I needed to acknowledge my suffering and my pain, but I then finished wallowing in it. I don’t want to encourage you to ignore that discomfort. It also isn’t about encouraging you to be flippant about it, because it’s part of the spectrum of your human experience. But, you need to be in charge of how you manage it – and you can be – instead of it, being in charge of you. Don’t wait for another event to come along that’s going to kind of pick you up and put you in a better mood, decide at this point in time, that this ‘miserable thing’ needs to stop, and you need to do something else – even if your not quite feeling like it, or not feeling you’re in the right spirit yet.
The other thing that time can do is that you can use the time to remind yourself that there will eventually be a solution to whatever the current problem is now. If that current problem is a feeling, that too will get sold because you are going move on from this thing, eventually. One of the things that trouble me most, when I meet a new client, is when they lack the ability to be able to identify within themselves that things will change. That thing can change. We just might need to do a certain number of things to be able to get there, like find the right strategies. In some cases, change happens fast, almost instantaneously, but there’s still going to be a time frame involved in that. What time offers us, is a moment to be able to pull together the resources we need, in order to move forward towards a solution.
If you are in a terrible situation and you know that the outcome to that scenario wasn’t going to be instant, it isn’t going to be a quick fix, you still know that at some point it will end – what you’re experiencing now will end in some way, shape or form. At some point in the future, because everything does, it will come to a close and even if what you’re experiencing right now is physical pain that is not going to pass until the day that you die, that miserable suffering will come to an end, all of it does (that’s a really depressing example, I appreciate that). But, it’s still accurate, most of the things that we’re experiencing in our lives right now will stop. They will finish, they will end at some point in time – and that’s a useful thing to remember when you are having a difficult time.
Number two: We’re going to use our imagination for our benefit!
We’re going to see the future as a brighter, more hopeful, more wonderful and more relaxed place than we can be in now. We don’t just do that to make ourselves feel better in the moment (but that’s important too), you have to have a little bit of a reality check sometimes. When you are involving yourself with your imagination, sometimes we can get so good at imagining what the future might look like, that when we get there and it turns out different in reality, it’s a bit disappointing because it’s not meeting our expectations. But the truth is, that is what you’re doing when you use your imagination in that way, you are preparing your psychologies for what you might want the future to look like.
Sometimes, when people are in a problematic situation they’re either in black or white thinking. They forget that there’s this kind of foggy, grey area somewhere in the middle. They either go ‘it’s all going to be perfect and wonderful’ or ‘it’s all going to be doom and gloom and terrible’. The reality is, it’s probably a bit of a mixture of the two – very often, if we are, at least using our imagination in the most positive way, we can get wired up for noticing those more positive things when they start to happen. Plus, in that actual difficult or tricky moment in time, using our imagination in a positive way, may actually serve to help us feel a bit better about things. It might serve to help us feel a bit more optimistic about what the future has to offer. Therefore, even though you might know chances are it’s probably not going to be all plain sailing, it can still lift your spirits and make you feel good about things.
Number three: Let’s do some cleaning!
Yep! That’s it, clean up! For some reason, it works really well if you’re in a bad headspace to clean up, tidy things, polish and put stuff away. I think what that does, is help you to see that life isn’t a complete mess. It helps you to see that there is space to be able to think. It’s maybe why getting outside in nature is such a good idea; when you see that blue sky going on out there, the trees thriving with their vibrant colours – when you see that, it kind of help expand your thinking and your imagination – a feeling of wellness starts to filter through. Even if your house is clean and tidy because you’re lucky enough to have a cleaner, clean up the desktop on your computer. Put stuff in folders and tidy it all up a little bit. When you do that, just that small reorganisation of things can make a really big difference to your ability to be able to see a situation for what it is. My personal recommendation is that when you are cleaning, you should play very loud music, even if that’s in your headphone whilst you tidy your desk at work. Make sure to put some backbone into it because expending that energy will also help to use up any excess adrenaline that you might have. Can you feel the shift towards clarity and out of the fog?
The final principle is ‘hope’!
I might have talked to you about hope before, and I have probably told you the same story that I’m about to tell you right now, but for those of you who haven’t heard it, I think this is really important. I have an ex-boyfriend who was working with an entrepreneur called Darren Winters. Now, I don’t know how true this is, but my friend told me that Darren winters had said to him that, ‘hope is the currency of those who have already failed’. When my obviously now ex-boyfriend said that to me, I wanted to smack him in the face because in the world of what I do, ‘hope’ is so, so incredibly important.
Sometimes it can feel like there is nothing left, there are no ideas left, there is no energy left, there is no support left, there is nothing. But, if you have ‘hope’, in my opinion, you have a chance, because here’s what ‘hope’ means to me;
Let me see if I can give you a visual representation to describe it to you. ‘Hope’, for me is the first glimmer of the sun. When the sun rises at the end of a very dark night, it’s not daytime yet, it’s not even dawn, but it’s that first thing that comes out of the darkness. That’s what ‘hope’ means to me. And, what that can do, is give you back that lost an ounce of energy that you didn’t even know you had. That little tiny piece stored away somewhere to be able to take you through to the next step, and the next, and the next after that.
Let me tell you some definitions around ‘hope’. Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen, it’s a feeling of trust, it’s when you want something to happen or to be the case. ‘Hope’ is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes, with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include, ‘expect with confidence’ and ‘to cherish a desire with anticipation’. That’s why I like to hope so much, because even when it’s the darkest of the dark nights, ‘hope’ can you give you that sense that actually things can change. That they will change and they will get better – and that is why I’m sharing ‘hope’ with you today.
In the toughest times, keep your eyes on that glimmer of sunlight, that signifies hope, change…and clarity.