We can all use survival tips for life. I have found that there are times when life feels completely overwhelming. All hope is lost and everything seems bleak. I guess it’s just a part of life but it still sucks…BIG time. Whenever I go through tough times I try to use all my experience and mental health knowledge to try improve the situation. I aks myself what I can possibly do to get through this tough time with as little pain as I can. This is also why I write this blog to share any good tips that I come up with or that others share with me.
Here are my latest, up-to-date survival tips for life:
“This too shall pass”
The above saying is a great survival tip for life. it doesn’t help us right in the moment but it can instil hope that smiles and a happier frame of mind may be possible in the hopefully not-too-distant future. It reminds us to hang in there and to never give up hope that we will feel more joy again.
What are you focusing on? This is a BIG DEAL. Are you spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about what is wrong and what is upsetting you? Focus on productive things – acknowledge that you are sad/angry/hurt/stressed or anxious etc. but if there is nothing you can do about it, DISTRACT yourself. Watch a funny movie, see a freind or do something. Spending too much time moping and thinking about your problems/issues will keep you down in the ‘bog of misery’. Stop it at once. That’s an order. Go to the gym or if you hate exercise, like I do, play a game on your phone 9I especially like the click-and-point games). They provide a brilliant distraction.
There’s a Cherokee story about two wolves, and it serves as an excellent parable. It goes something like this:
One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “my son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson though about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “the one that you feed.”
Problem solve, don’t ruminate
Yup – worrying for the sake of worrying is the biggest waste of mental energy there is. I know it’s easier said than done and we can all dwell on the bad stuff but it is NO GOOD for you and not at all helpful! Try to look for solutions to the problem if appropriate and then ‘mentally shelve’ the worry. Worrying is like a rocking chaor – it gives you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere and they say, often, when we are in our heads, we are in enemy territory. All our fears and insecurities come to the fore and freak us out. Most of them probably won’t happen and if some of them did actually happen, we would cope better than we think we will. Anticipation is almost ALWAYS worse than the actual event. it’s often never as bad as it seems.
What can you/can’t you control?
This is also an important survival tip. If your worries are to do with something/someone you have little control over, chillax! If you can do something, do it or diarise it and then distract yourself. If you are waiting for someone else to make you feel better or validate you or whatever it is, FOCUS elsewhere. Other people have their own agendas, they may think differently to you, they may not work on the same schedule as you. Don’t mind read – this is when we assume that we know what someone else is thinking. We don’t, unless they tell us directly we are assuming – pure and simple.
Sure, we may have an inkling about what someone else is thinking but just remind yourself that you don’t know for sure and there is no clear evidence. Just reminding ourselves of this can sometimes alleviate the intensity of the stress and anxiety we feel.
Take care of yourself, don’t take it out on yourself! Be kind and compassionate to yourself. This emotional survival tip is incredibly important. All too often I see clients who are super hard on themselves, are self critical and are generally just plain horrid to themselves. Why would you want to do this? You have you for your whole life, it makes sense to be as nice to yourself as possible. We all make mistakes, no one is perfect – give yourself a break! Don’t allow others to treat you badly – this is often a sign of low self esteem. Give yourself positive pep talks and remind yourself of all that is good about you – for example: I have a good sense of humour, I am kind and tolerant etc…Focus on what is good. We can all focus on the bad stuff but it just leads to unhappiness. It makes no sense to do this.
Life can really slap us around sometimes. I wonder at times if the universe, energy out there (whatever you want to call it) has a sadistic sense of humour. I have caught myself asking life to give me a break many times. The thing is, when you look around, you will see (sadly) that no one escape from trouble. We all have to deal with it. Accept that this is a part of life but don’t catastrophise and imagine the wprst case scenario. Thoughts lead to feelings and feelings lead to behaviour. If you catastrophise, you will feel negative feelings and possibly the engage in negative beahviour – reinforcing the cycle. The worst may not happen.
If you find you catastrophise often – that is, imagine the worst case scenario (for example: you go through a break up and start telling yourself you will never find love and always be alone…) This is an example of catastrophising. Again – there is no evidence for this, you can’t predict the future.
Getly remind yourself you are catastrophising – an error on thinking. If you find it hard to stop catastrophising try asking yourself these questions:
- What’s the worst that can happen?
- What’s the best that can happen?
- What’s most likely to happen?
- If the worst does happen, what can I do about it?
The above questions can help add perspective to your fearful catastrophising thought and also help you to feel that you could possibly find ways to cope. We are often far more resilient than we realise. Have you ever noticed how, even when really bad things happen, people tend to look for the bright side. yes – once it happens we change our thinking. I watched a man on TV yesterday who had lost his arms and legs and was doing a sports challenge. He was saying that he is happier now with his disability than he was before. I am not saying everyone will feel the same way he does but it’s a good reminder that how we imagine life will pan out isn’t necessarily true – just our scary thoughts.
Keep the faith
I have definitely attended the School of Hard Knocks, had too many classes there for my liking but I never want to lose my hope that life can be okay. I definitely believe that my attitude helps me a lot. I have learned to let stuff go, focus on what is important and dismiss the stuff I can’t change. The Serentiy Prayer is a good reminder:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
You will get through the tough times, things will get better. You are not alone. Right now, all around the world there are people going through similar experiences to you. Look forward with positive expectancy, be kind to yourself, surround yourself with good people, believe it will get better, take it one hour at a time if you have to, keep busy and soon you will find it feels easier.
Strength and love to you!