5 Truths That Will Get You Through Hard Times

5 Truths That Will Get You Through Hard Times

Life is filled with ups and downs. Even the most successful people face struggles on a daily basis, ask any therapist. Maybe you’re going through a bad divorce. Or, you could be facing serious financial problems. Or, it could be the sorrow of losing a loved one. In some cases, it could even be a combination of factors.

Truth be told, dealing with these situations and the many others we haven’t mentioned can be extremely difficult. People struggling with drug addiction, for example, find life really stressful. Sometimes it comes to a point where life loses meaning. However, if you want to live a life you can be proud of, you must find ways to overcome these lows and rise above your challenges. Below, we discuss five life truths that can set you free from the shackles of despair and set you on the path to happiness and a fulfilling life.

  1. Pain is part of life – you must learn to live with it.

    Just like love and laughter, pain is part of life. Without it, life wouldn’t be complete. The biggest problem is that from a young age we have always been taught to avoid hurt as much as possible. So, often, even the suggestion of suffering is enough to send us running for cover, but you can’t live like that in this world filled with hot pans and sharp objects. You cannot keep trying to avoid pain because that’s not possible. It’s important to accept that from time to time, you will be hurt. Secondly, you must understand that resisting pain is not the best way to deal with it. In most cases, resistance only makes it worse.

    The only way out is to embrace pain just like you embrace other feelings. Those feelings are what define you. And, don’t hide them from the public. When you hide your pains, you’re letting the lies of insecurity destroy your reality. You need to stand up and own your scars. Endure the pain. You’ll come out of it a stronger, wiser, truer version of yourself.

  2. Your biggest fears are nothing more than an imagination.

    Fear is the number one reason most people aren’t where they should be right now. Just the thought of doing something that may hurt you often means you postpone doing that thing or forget about it altogether.

    What you may not be aware of is that most of the time, those fears amount to nothing. So, at the end of it all, the only reason you might end up missing life’s exciting moments is not because of potential bad experiences but because your fears keep you from exploring. By keeping you at an arm’s length, fear will have made sure that you aren’t even close enough to find out whether you were right or wrong.

    To get out of this trap, you must realize that fear is just about moments. Whatever you fear is simply a moment in life with feelings of anger, awkwardness, pain, and possibly suffering. Since you don’t want to experience those feelings, you may find yourself holding back.

    But, aren’t those the same feelings we deal with everyday? You’ve certainly been angry before. You’ve also felt pain and suffering before, right? So, why should you fear them anymore? Embrace them. Just like you’ve overcome them severally, you’ll conquer them again.

  3. The present is all you have to deal with.

    Of course, it’s natural to spend moments of thought in the past or in the future. Identifying pending danger by reviewing our past experiences is important for self-preservation. But when you let your life be dictated by events and emotions that happened long time ago or that might happen in the future, it can be impossible to stand peacefully rooted in the present.

    The easiest way to break away from this habit is to identify time for what it is. Don’t worry about the clock on the wall or the watch on your wrist. To Mother Nature, those devices mean nothing. Nature sees life as an evolving moment. To her, the past doesn’t exist and the future is irrelevant.

    The only true reference point to this moment in time is the feeling of presence; being here in this body and seeing life through our eyes. So, stop worrying about what happened or what might be. Let the past be the past and allow the future to amaze you. Meanwhile, revel in the present.

  4. Perception is everything.

    Another truth that can change your life for the better is the fact that your beliefs, the way you see things, is ultimately the way things will play out in life. The mind is perhaps the best-kept secret in life; one of the most powerful tools available to mankind. When the mind sets up for success, you’re much more likely to succeed. When you’ve already given up in your mind, even in real life, you’re unlikely to be successful.

    That’s because your mind inspires perception, creating thoughts, ideas, theories, and imaginations, which in turn, intuit events and shape your consciousness. Take an example of a young graduate who believes that she is capable, competent, and deserving of her dream job. She is more likely to notice and seek opportunities that could help he get there. She’s also more likely to perform well in an interview.

    On the contrary, if you don’t trust your abilities or feel that you’re not prepared for the job, you’re unlikely to seek the job. Even if you do, your energy levels will be low, you’re likely to perform poorly in your interviews (because of your negative mindset) and, for that reason, are unlikely to get the job.

    To sum it up, the obstacle in front of you is only as big as you perceive it. If you believe you can overcome your challenges, you will put your best foot forward, and might just succeed!

  5. You’re never truly alone.

    Finally, when you feel down, always remember that you’re never truly alone. Sometimes it feels like it; that you’re alone and no one cares about your well-being. That voice telling you that you’re alone is the voice of self-defeat. Rise above it and you’ll find that everyone is always struggling with something at any given point.

    You just need to open up and talk about your problems. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to come to your rescue. You’ll also learn that those people who afford to put a smile on their faces aren’t necessarily having the best day. They are just better at managing their problems.

So, open up today. Share your story with colleagues, friends, family, or a psychologist. There is always someone out there who can relate to your situation. Perhaps you can’t immediately access them, but they are out there.


About the Author: Dr Diana Paulk 

Dr. Paulk is a licensed psychologist and has more than 20 years of experience offering therapy in many different settings. Over the years, she has come to relish working with individuals who are striving to overcome issues associated with recent or past trauma – symptoms such as stress, avoidance and overwhelming feelings of anxiety, depression or worry. Dr. Paulk recently became certified as an advanced trauma specialist by The Trauma Center at the Justice Research Institute outside Boston, Massachusetts. The nine-month program was conducted by recognized experts in the field, including Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

11 Comments

Felicity D

This has really helped me to focus on myself now and stop being an anxiety-ridden mess worrying about the future. The feelings of being overwhelmed are calmer, thankyou.

Reply
Rachel

My heart was lifted by reading this article.
I will be reading it again and showing my daughter

Reply
Hayley

Really useful ideas that resonated deeply for me. I’m trying really hard to navigate my way through parenting a depressed teen and I’m desperate for any info that can help broaden my tools with which to help my child.

Reply
Ekaterina

Food for thought. Inspirational in many ways. Just like a reminder to stay in the presence. Excellent and easy to read article. Big thanks to the author!

Reply
Sylvia Britton

This is a read-again, and again and again. So good for me in these turbulent times when anxiety keeps rearing its ugly head.

Reply
Kelly

I like this.. Simple truths which are so easily forgotten when you’re in the trenches of depression..

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Behaviour is never from ‘bad’. It’s from ‘big’. Big hungry, big tired, big disconnection, big missing, big ‘too much right now’. The reason our responses might not work can often be because we’ve misread the story, or we’ve missed an important piece of it. Their story might be about now, today, yesterday, or any of the yesterdays before now. 

Our job isn’t to fix them. They aren’t broken. Our job is to understand them. Only then can we steer our response in the right direction. Otherwise we’re throwing darts at the wrong target - behaviour, instead of the need behind the behaviour. 

Watch, listen, breathe and be with. Feel what they feel. This will help them feel you with them. We all feel safer and calmer when we feel our people beside us - not judging or hurrying or questioning. What don’t you know, that they need you to know?♥️
We all have first up needs. The difference between adults and children is that we can delay the meeting of these needs for a bit longer than children - but we still need them met. 

The first most important question the brain needs answered is, ‘Is my body safe?’ - Am I free from threat, hunger, exhaustion, pain? This is usually an easier one to take care of or to recognise when it might need some attention. 

The next most important question is, ‘Is my heart safe?’ - Am I loved, noticed, valued, claimed, wanted, welcome? This can be an easy one to overlook, especially in the chaos of the morning. Of course we love them and want them - and sometimes we’ll get distracted, annoyed, frustrated, irritated. None of this changes how much we love and want them - not even for a second. We can feel two things at once - madly in love with them and annoyed/ distracted/ frustrated. Sometimes though, this can leave their ‘Is my heart safe?’ needs a little hungry. They have less capacity than us to delay the meeting of these needs. When these needs are hungry, we’ll be more likely to see big feelings or big behaviour. 

The more you can fill their love tanks at the start of the day, the more they’ll be able to handle the bumps. This doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be enough. It might look like having a cuddle, reading a story, having a chat, sitting with them while they have breakfast or while they pat the dog, touching their back when they walk past, telling them you love them.

All brains need to feel loved and wanted, and as though they aren’t a nuisance, but sometimes they’ll need to feel it more. The more their felt sense of relational safety is met, the more they’ll be able to then focus on ‘thinking brain’ things, such as planning, making good decisions, co-operating, behaving. 

(And if this today was a bumpy one, that’s okay. Those days are going to happen. If most of the time their love tanks are full, they’ll handle when it drops a little. Just top it up when you can. And don’t forget to top yours up too. Be kind to yourself. You deserve it as much as they do.)♥️
Things will always go wrong - a bad decision, a good decision with a bad outcome, a dilemma, wanting something that comes with risk. 

Often, the ‘right thing’ lives somewhere in the very blurry bounds of the grey. Sometimes it will be about what’s right for them. Sometimes what’s right for others. Sometimes it will be about taking a risk, and sometimes the ‘right’ thing just feels wrong right now, or wrong for them. Even as adults, we will often get things wrong. This isn’t because we’re bad, or because we don’t know the right thing from the wrong thing, but because few things are black and white. 

The problem with punishment and harsh consequences is that we remove ourselves as an option for them to turn to next time things end messy, or as a guide before the mess happens. 

Feeling safe in our important relationships is a primary need for all of us humans. That means making sure our relationships are free from judgement, humiliation, shame, separation. If our response to their ‘wrong things’ is to bring all of these things to the table we share with them with them, of course they’ll do anything to avoid it. This isn’t about lying or secrecy. It’s about maintaining relational ‘safety’, or closeness.

Kids want to do the right thing. They want us to love and accept them. But they’re going to get things wrong sometimes. When they do, our response will teach them either that we are safe for them to come to no matter what, or that we aren’t. 

So what do we do when things go wrong? Embrace them, reject the behaviour:

‘I love that you’ve been honest with me. That means everything to me. I know you didn’t expect things to end up like this, but here we are. Let’s talk about what’s happened and what can be different next time.’

Or, ‘Something must have made this (wrong thing) feel like the right thing to do, otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. We all do that sometimes. What do you think it was that was for you?’

Or, ‘I know you know lying isn’t okay. What made you feel like you couldn’t tell me the truth? How can we build the trust again. Let’s talk about how to do that.’

You will always be their greatest guide, but you can only be that if they let you.♥️
Whenever there is a call to courage, there will be anxiety - every time. That’s what makes it brave. This is why challenging things, brave things, important things will often drive anxiety. 

At these times - when they are safe, but doing something hard - the feelings that come with anxiety will be enough to drive avoidance. When it is avoidance of a threat, that’s important. That’s anxiety doing it’s job. But when the avoidance is in response to things that are important, brave, meaningful, that avoidance only serves to confirm the deficiency story. This is when we want to support them to take tiny steps towards that brave thing. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.l and it doesn’t matter how long it takes. Brave is about being able to handle the discomfort of anxiety enough to do the important, challenging thing. It’s built in tiny steps, one after the other. 

We don’t have to get rid of their anxiety and neither do they. They can feel anxious, and do brave. At these times (safe, but scary) they need us to take a posture of validation and confidence. ‘I believe you, and I believe in you.’ ‘I know this feels big, and I know you can handle it.’ 

What we’re saying is we know they can handle the discomfort of anxiety. They don’t have to handle it well, and they don’t have to handle it for too long. Handling it is handling it, and that’s the substance of ‘brave’. 

Being brave isn’t about doing the brave thing, but about being able to handle the discomfort of the anxiety that comes with that. And if they’ve done that today, at all, or for a moment longer than yesterday, then they’ve been brave today. It doesn’t matter how messy it was or how small it was. Let them see their brave through your eyes.‘That was big for you wasn’t it. And you did it. You felt anxious, and you stayed with it. That’s what being brave is all about.’♥️
A relationally unsafe (emotionally unsafe) environment can cause as much breakage as as a physically unsafe one. 

The brain’s priority will always be safety, so if a person or environment doesn’t feel emotionally safe, we might see big behaviour, avoidance, or reduced learning. In this case, it isn’t the child that’s broken. It’s the environment.

But here’s the thing, just because a child doesn’t feel safe, doesn’t mean the person or environment isn’t safe. What it means is that there aren’t enough signals of safety - yet, and there’s a little more work to do to build this. ‘Safety’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, it’s about what the brain perceives. Children might have the safest, warmest, most loving adult in front of them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel safe. This is when we have to look at how we might extend bigger cues of warmth, welcome, inclusiveness, and what we can do (or what roles or responsibilities can we give them) to help them feel valued and needed. This might take time, and that’s okay. Children aren’t meant to feel safe with every adult in front of them, so sometimes what they need most is our patience and understanding as we continue to build this. 

This is the way it works for all of us, everywhere. None of us will be able to give our best or do our best if we don’t feel welcome, liked, valued, and free from hostility, humiliation or judgement. 

This is especially important for our schools. A brain that doesn’t feel safe can’t learn. For schools to be places of learning, they first have to be places of relationship. Before we focus too sharply on learning support and behaviour management, we first have to focus on felt sense of safety support. The most powerful way to do this is through relationship. Teachers who do this are magic-makers. They show a phenomenal capacity to expand a child’s capacity to learn, calm big behaviour, and open up a child’s world. But relationships take time, and felt safety takes time. The time it takes for this to happen is all part of the process. It’s not a waste of time, it’s the most important use of it.♥️

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