No matter how hard we try, trouble inevitably comes to us.
It’s the landmark of existence. It touches every life.
Accepting this isn’t easy though. To be completely honest, my first instinct when things get rough is to hide beneath the covers and drink hot cocoa all night and pretend my problems don’t exist.
Avoiding trouble, however, is also a way of avoiding growth. These days, I’m trying to practice resilience. I’m trying to accept problems as part of the human experience, a vehicle for change and wisdom.
Here are seven ideas to help us get through our troubles, big and small.
1) Do one small thing.
When you don’t know where to start, just start. Pick the smallest possible piece. Even if it’s just making your bed in the morning. Even if it’s just opening an email window and filling in the names of the recipients for the difficult message you don’t want to write. Even if it’s reading one page or studying for ten minutes or washing one dish. Start your day with a small accomplishment. Start your day with one small thing.
2) Get some sleep.
The Irish say that a long sleep and a good laugh are the two best cures for anything. This is great advice that I’m constantly ignoring, subconsciously believing that if I work longer and harder that things will be easier and better. That’s not the case though. Sometimes we just need to rest.
Sleep, I think, isn’t just physical–it’s spiritual, too. When we don’t get enough rest, we lose track of ourselves and our sense of equilibrium. Go to bed early. Don’t set an alarm. There’s no shame in sleeping in.
3) Try a new adventure.
Or maybe your problem isn’t too little time; maybe it’s too much, or too much of the same thing. The same old patterns and places that break your heart. Shake up your routine and you might find some joy in unexpected places. Try a new coffee shop or even a new drink at your regular cafe. Listen to a different radio station on your way to work. Take a dance class. Learn a new game. Go hiking in a new place. Pretty soon, you might start discovering that there are good things you never knew about, that life still has mysteries to offer up.
When we seek new adventures, sometimes we find new feelings, too.
4) Be in your body.
Move around. Take a walk. Play soccer. Ride a skateboard. Do yoga. Pay attention to how you feel. Remind yourself of your physical presence in the world. You are here and your body is yours. No one belongs here more than you. Appreciate your physical abilities, whatever they are. Relish the sensations of living.
5) Wear tangerine lipstick.
Tangerine lipstick is my personal trademark, but really, it can be anything that makes you feel good. Choose something that makes you feel especially like yourself, something that is effortless and wonderful all at once. Whatever resonates with you, create a personal talisman or trademark. Make tiny, intentional choices to remind yourself that you always have the power to steer your own course.
6) “Can you help me?”
Asking for help is a powerful action. Many of us feel embarrassed to admit that we’re floundering, but the truth is that people usually love to help, even strangers and acquaintances. These moments of vulnerability are also opportunities for joy and generosity. Sometimes someone else has a shared experience or the right perspective to shed new light on the situation. Sometimes it’s the simple admission that things aren’t okay that brings a wave of relief. Help is available if we only have the courage to ask.
7) Remember, feelings are fluid.
Trouble, I think, is all a matter of perspective. If we can think of our troubles as temporary learning experiences, our burdens become a little easier to bear. These feelings are not forever. Getting through something literally means getting through it, traveling through the territory. There’s no shortcut. There’s no alternative path. There are, however, different ways of traveling. Agreeing to feel our feelings rather than denying or fighting against them paradoxically helps us process them more quickly.
When I’m feeling sad or anxious, I try to think, “Can I be okay with this feeling? Can I sit with this feeling for a few minutes?”
If I really try, the answer is always yes.
Feelings are fluid.
You will likely have different worries in another twelve months.
That’s really okay.
You’ll be okay, too.
It will all come out in the wash.
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Assistant Ed: Kristina Peterson/Ed: Sara Crolick