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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Anxiety is a sign that the brain has registered threat and is mobilising the body to get to safety. One of the ways it does this is by organising the body for movement - to fight the danger or flee the danger. 

If there is no need or no opportunity for movement, that fight or flight fuel will still be looking for expression. This can come out as wriggly, fidgety, hyperactive behaviour. This is why any of us might pace or struggle to sit still when we’re anxious. 

If kids or teens are bouncing around, wriggling in their chairs, or having trouble sitting still, it could be anxiety. Remember with anxiety, it’s not about what is actually safe but about what the brain perceives. New or challenging work, doing something unfamiliar, too much going on, a tired or hungry body, anything that comes with any chance of judgement, failure, humiliation can all throw the brain into fight or flight.

When this happens, the body might feel busy, activated, restless. This in itself can drive even more anxiety in kids or teens. Any of us can struggle when we don’t feel comfortable in our own bodies. 

Anxiety is energy with nowhere to go. To move through anxiety, give the energy somewhere to go - a fast walk, a run, a whole-body shake, hula hooping, kicking a ball - any movement that spends the energy will help bring the brain and body back to calm.♥️
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#parenting #anxietyinkids #childanxiety #parenting #parent
This is not bad behaviour. It’s big behaviour a from a brain that has registered threat and is working hard to feel safe again. 

‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually safe or not, but about what the brain perceives. The brain can perceive threat when there is any chance missing out on or messing up something important, anything that feels unfamiliar, hard, or challenging, feeling misunderstood, thinking you might be angry or disappointed with them, being separated from you, being hungry or tired, anything that pushes against their sensory needs - so many things. 

During anxiety, the amygdala in the brain is switched to high volume, so other big feelings will be too. This might look like tears, sadness, or anger. 

Big feelings have a good reason for being there. The amygdala has the very important job of keeping us safe, and it does this beautifully, but not always with grace. One of the ways the amygdala keeps us safe is by calling on big feelings to recruit social support. When big feelings happen, people notice. They might not always notice the way we want to be noticed, but we are noticed. This increases our chances of safety. 

Of course, kids and teens still need our guidance and leadership and the conversations that grow them, but not during the emotional storm. They just won’t hear you anyway because their brain is too busy trying to get back to safety. In that moment, they don’t want to be fixed or ‘grown’. They want to feel seen, safe and heard. 

During the storm, preserve your connection with them as much as you can. You might not always be able to do this, and that’s okay. None of this is about perfection. If you have a rupture, repair it as soon as you can. Then, when their brains and bodies come back to calm, this is the time for the conversations that will grow them. 

Rather than, ‘What consequences do they need to do better?’, shift to, ‘What support do they need to do better?’ The greatest support will come from you in a way they can receive: ‘What happened?’ ‘What can you do differently next time?’ ‘You’re the most wonderful kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen. How can you put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
Big behaviour is a sign of a nervous system in distress. Before anything, that vulnerable nervous system needs to be brought back home to felt safety. 

This will happen most powerfully with relationship and connection. Breathe and be with. Let them know you get it. This can happen with words or nonverbals. It’s about feeling what they feel, but staying regulated.

If they want space, give them space but stay in emotional proximity, ‘Ok I’m just going to stay over here. I’m right here if you need.’

If they’re using spicy words to make sure there is no confusion about how they feel about you right now, flag the behaviour, then make your intent clear, ‘I know how upset you are and I want to understand more about what’s happening for you. I’m not going to do this while you’re speaking to me like this. You can still be mad, but you need to be respectful. I’m here for you.’

Think of how you would respond if a friend was telling you about something that upset her. You wouldn’t tell her to calm down, or try to fix her (she’s not broken), or talk to her about her behaviour. You would just be there. You would ‘drop an anchor’ and steady those rough seas around her until she feels okay enough again. Along the way you would be doing things that let her know your intent to support her. You’d do this with you facial expressions, your voice, your body, your posture. You’d feel her feels, and she’d feel you ‘getting her’. It’s about letting her know that you understand what she’s feeling, even if you don’t understand why (or agree with why). 

It’s the same for our children. As their important big people, they also need leadership. The time for this is after the storm has passed, when their brains and bodies feel safe and calm. Because of your relationship, connection and their felt sense of safety, you will have access to their ‘thinking brain’. This is the time for those meaningful conversations: 
- ‘What happened?’
- ‘What did I do that helped/ didn’t help?’
- ‘What can you do differently next time?’
- ‘You’re a great kid and I know you didn’t want this to happen, but here we are. What can you do to put things right? Do you need my help with that?’♥️
As children grow, and especially by adolescence, we have the illusion of control but whether or not we have any real influence will be up to them. The temptation to control our children will always come from a place of love. Fear will likely have a heavy hand in there too. When they fall, we’ll feel it. Sometimes it will feel like an ache in our core. Sometimes it will feel like failure or guilt, or anger. We might wish we could have stopped them, pushed a little harder, warned a little bigger, stood a little closer. We’re parents and we’re human and it’s what this parenting thing does. It makes fear and anxiety billow around us like lost smoke, too easily.

Remember, they want you to be proud of them, and they want to do the right thing. When they feel your curiosity over judgement, and the safety of you over shame, it will be easier for them to open up to you. Nobody will guide them better than you because nobody will care more about where they land. They know this, but the magic happens when they also know that you are safe and that you will hold them, their needs, their opinions and feelings with strong, gentle, loving hands, no matter what.♥️
Anger is the ‘fight’ part of the fight or flight response. It has important work to do. Anger never exists on its own. It exists to hold other more vulnerable emotions in a way that feels safer. It’s sometimes feels easier, safer, more acceptable, stronger to feel the ‘big’ that comes with anger, than the vulnerability that comes with anxiety, sadness, loneliness. This isn’t deliberate. It’s just another way our bodies and brains try to keep us safe. 

The problem isn’t the anger. The problem is the behaviour that can come with the anger. Let there be no limits on thoughts and feelings, only behaviour. When children are angry, as long as they are safe and others are safe, we don’t need to fix their anger. They aren’t broken. Instead, drop the anchor: as much as you can - and this won’t always be easy - be a calm, steadying, loving presence to help bring their nervous systems back home to calm. 

Then, when they are truly calm, and with love and leadership, have the conversations that will grow them - 
- What happened? 
- What can you do differently next time?
- You’re a really great kid. I know you didn’t want this to happen but here we are. How can you make things right. Would you like some ideas? Do you need some help with that?
- What did I do that helped? What did I do that didn’t help? Is there something that might feel more helpful next time?

When their behaviour falls short of ‘adorable’, rather than asking ‘What consequences they need to do better?’ let the question be, ‘What support do they need to do better.’ Often, the biggest support will be a conversation with you, and that will be enough.♥️
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#parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting #anxietyinkids

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