Those who know me know that know I am currently going through one of the most difficult periods of my life. My mother’s seriously ill and my finances are tight, all of which converged as I began launching my first business. It’s amazing how one minute life can be great and one phone call can change all of that. As a result, for the last 6 or 7 months, I have been forced to respond to my new circumstances in improvisational and creative ways. Nothing stays the same. This much I know. But when life happens, your response is crucial. I’ve had to learn how to not just cope but thrive amidst very difficult circumstances. Here are a few of my best practices for making it through an extremely tough time when there seems to be no end in sight:
1. Prioritize self-care. When I’m stressed, its very difficult for me to eat well, especially several times a day. I subsist on coffee and maybe a small snack per day. But this is way too little and not healthy. Its of paramount importance to prioritize your health while going through a stressful, difficult situation. In not maintaining your health, you compromise your ability to fully make it through your current circumstances.
2. Take a moment each day to express what you feel. Every day, I cry. I take a moment to myself to just release what it is that I am feeling. But I only give myself 10 minutes to do so. Whether, its in the morning or at night or sometime during the day, I do it. And then move on.
3. Do 10 things every day to move yourself forward. You have to fight for the life you want. Life may look different after bad news, but you have to push through it. Staying busy has really been a godsend for me. Doing 10 things every day that will take my life into a different place, has allowed me to take some sort of control.
4. Celebrate small victories. It could be a hello or a kind word or basically anything. But being present in the moment to acknowledge the good and the positive is an excellent strategy when it seems as if life has thrown you bad lemons.
5. Exude the opposite of what you feel. In other words, the more anxious, worried and sad that I feel, the happier, friendlier and more generous I have decided to become.
6. You may not choose what happens to you but you can choose how you will respond. Early on, I made the explicit decision to choose to learn from these experiences and that this sort of thing happens to people every day. I am no different than anyone else.
7. Surround yourself with a support system. The only thing worse than going through this would be going through this alone. Don’t walk through something like this by yourself if you don’t have to.
8. Have faith. I have leaned quite heavily on my own faith during this time. As many do when things are not good. But I don’t think this caveat applies to just the religious. I think having faith in that life happens to everyone and that life is series of ebbs and flows can be a powerful realization. Things can be great, things can be miserable. Know that this too shall pass.
The above video is an interview with comedienne Tig Notaro. Her career is on the rise, thanks to a resounding endorsement from the formidable Louis C.K. But before all the recent accolades came her way, she experienced the following: a bad breakup, life-threatening pneumonia, her mother’s death, and then being diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing a double masectomy. Yet Tig managed to survive it all.
How you respond to difficulty has a huge impact on how you will move through it. The choice is yours.