10 Things to Tell Yourself When Life Knocks You Down
1. I’ve been through this (or worse) before.
Remember that this is not the first time you’ve faced heartbreak, grief, emotional distress, or any other kind of calamity. You made it through then and you will now even if you think this is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. Great resource: Joan Borysenko’s It’s Not the End of the World: Developing Resilience in Times of Change.
2. I accept myself completely as I am.
Maybe you made a mistake. Maybe you failed at something. Or maybe you’re just having a hard time living with your painful emotions right now.
Accept yourself fully in this moment just as you are. Notice your thoughts and feeling and make space for them. Realize that these thoughts and feelings are a part of you and, as such, need to be accepted rather than pushed away. Great resource: RAIN – Tara Brach
3. This, too, shall pass.
Simple, but true, is it not? Great resource: The Art of Resilience: 100 Paths to Wisdom and Strength in an Uncertain World - Carol Orsborn.
4. How can I look at this differently?
It’s really easy to get stuck in looking at a problem or crisis from just one angle. See if there are other ways you can look at it. Is there something to learn? Is there another way to approach it? Great resource: 3 Simple Ways to Get a New Perspective on Monstrous Problems.
5. Who is around to help me with this?
This is not the time to go it alone. This is the time you gather your tribe and ask for their support in whatever way you need. Great resource: Ya Gotta Have Friends: 4 Essential Ideas for Bouncing Back.
6. I will treat myself as I would my best friend were she going through this.
Give yourself a little love! Sometimes we can be harder on ourselves than we would ever be to a friend – or even an enemy!
Be as compassionate to yourself as you would your friend. Great resource: Soften, soothe, allow meditation by Dr. Kristin Neff.
7. How can I be kind to someone else?
Research is piling up now showing that helping someone else when you’re feeling down not only assists that person, but also helps you generate positive emotions within you.
And experiencing positive emotions during adversity not only helps you feel good, but it expands your ability to problem-solve and handle difficult situations. Great resource: Positivity – Barbara Fredrickson
8. What good things are going on for me right now?
It’s true. Gratitude helps. Great resource: The How of Happiness – Sonya Lyubomirsky
9. Sometimes life sucks.
Although having gratitude, creating positive emotions, and being self-compassionate are essential to making it through life’s storms, you don’t have to be Pollyanna.
You can do all of those things and still acknowledge that sometimes life is just plain hard. Great resource: On pain, tolerance, and why there are no bullet points.
10. [Breath] Stay . . . stay . . . stay . . . in the present.
Take a deep breath. No, really, do it now!
There, doesn’t that feel better?
The other thing that taking a deep breath can do is serve as a trigger to remind you to stay in the present moment rather than ruing the past or fretting about the future.
When practicing staying present, American Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield suggests treating the wandering mind as you would a puppy that you are trying to teach to stay.
When the puppy gets up and moves after you tell it to stay, you wouldn’t yell at it, “No! I told you to stay! Can’t you do anything?”
Instead, you would set the puppy back in place and gently say, “Stay . . . stay . . . good boy . . . no, stay . . .”
Treat your mind as you would a puppy who is just learning about a new world. Great resource: Meditation for Beginners, Jack Kornfield video