What to do when your life sucks


Spend any amount of time with honest humans and you'll discover an important fact of life: it often sucks. People can be jerks, plans don't always work out, dreams often don't come true... and then you brush your teeth and go to bed and it all starts again. Now, I'm an optimist and my life is also filled with hope, but I can't deny the reality that life includes a lot of hard times. 

So what do we do when life sucks? Here's my plan of attack:


Get out of bed (literally or figuratively). Look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself of these important truths: "You are not your experiences. You are not your thoughts. You are not your emotions. Your experiences are temporary, they are not forever. Your thoughts are fleeting, they come and go like the wind. Your emotions are indicators, they inform you of things happening inside yourself."

Now you need to figure out what your emotions, thoughts and experiences are trying to tell you. To do that, there are three groups of people you need to talk to: yourself, your peers, and God.


Talk, and listen, to yourself. Everything going on in your mind and emotional state is a result of things going on your life. Do you feel tense, do you feel scared, do you feel angry, do you feel nothing at all? Tune in to yourself, and take stock of what's going on. Write down the major themes. Now ask yourself how long these things have been going on for, and what events or people triggered them. Feelings and thoughts propel us toward action, so write down the actions that you feel compelled to take. Don't do the actions, but write them down.


Talk to someone you trust, and share the stuff you've written down. The actions that feel so necessary and justified to us are often built on flawed data. Somewhere along the line we have made an assumption or a judgement and a result, the entire narrative that we're telling ourselves is faulty. It's like the scene in Mockingjay (SPOILER ALERT!) where Peeta is released from captivity only to try and kill Katniss, his lover. Why? Because he was tortured and brainwashed into thinking Katniss was his enemy.  Katniss and Peeta had to sit down together and review each narrative, one by one, so she could debunk each of them, explaining the truth that he had been blinded from seeing. You need to find someone who can help you do that.


Talk to God about what you've learned about yourself and the people and events surrounding you. If you are triggered by certain behaviours, ask God to speak to you about the roots of that triggering. If you frequently form judgements about a certain kind of people, ask God to show you where that comes from, and to help you stop the habit. He made you, he cares for you, and he will provide you with a strategy to heal the parts of yourself that have been wounded by the crappy circumstances of your life.

Next time you get out of bed, remind yourself that it's a new day, and that you're a new person. Take each day one day at a time. Or better yet, one moment at a time. As you run into crappy situations, wash, rinse and repeat.

There's not much we can do to avoid hard times. Sure, living wisely and not doing stupid things will keep you out of some trouble, but life will still throw curveballs at you. It's up to us to respond maturely and learn ways to get back up after we're knocked down.

Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

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