Life is not a long quiet river and one may argue that it is precisely what gives it its spice. As we grow, we go through a rollercoaster of emotions, sometimes even within a day, thus taking a lot of energy from us. Everyone reacts differently and we all have our own coping mechanisms when things don’t go according to plans. I have a rather tranquil and reserved personality, so I’m not likely to lash out every time I’m upset, but I do have (unfortunately) a tendency to bottle up my feelings, which in the end is just as detrimental. However, with age (and experience) comes wisdom and compared to a few years ago, there’s a world of difference with how I used to deal with issues to now. These are some of the points I like to remember whenever I experience disappointment and annoyances:
Setbacks are temporary. To quote Heraclitus: “everything is and is not, for everything is fluid, is constantly changing, constantly coming into being and passing away (…)”. This is an important reminder when you feel a dark cloud looming over your head, that your situation doesn’t seem to improve over time. Or that feeling that you’re stuck in a rut. Even if we may not see a change, each day that goes by has a new energy and brings something different. So if things get a bit rough, hang in there. Patience is an ally
Stay away from negative people. Negativity breeds negativity, if you’re not in a clear state of mind, surrounding yourself with chronic complainers and people that see the glass half empty will most likely add more fuel to the fire. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was in fact, to let go of certain people: despite the great memories that we shared, their influence was nefarious and bringing me down. Friendships should never feel this way.
Breathe (and think before you do). Taking a few minutes each day to take deep breaths and reflect on my personal state and situation has prevented me from jumping to conclusions and make rushed decisions just for the sake of dealing with a problem quickly.
Treat yourself. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just do something that will brighten up your day, be it a walk, a delicious pastry, shopping, reading and so on. While it won’t solve the problem, a little indulgence can uplift your spirits and boost your motivation.
Get moving. Working out and remaining active has been one of the healthiest ways to let out the frustration and anger. After a good workout session, I feel like I get rid of all that negative energy, burned calories are just a bonus. Keep those serotonin levels high, and you’ll be able to conquer the world.
Keep a journal. Write down your feelings. If you don’t have someone to talk to or you simply can’t express yourself openly, writing remains a terrific therapy. I remember a fight I had with my mom a few years back. Instead of confronting her and saying hurtful things (which I would not even mean to say, but in the heat of the moment words can be harsh), I wrote down my feelings. After the writing session, I already felt calmer and the feud with my mom quickly resolved. When I found my old journal later, I ended up reading that part again. I was grateful that I never said those words out loud, because aside from upsetting my mom, it would not have changed anything.
Spread positivity. Wallowing in self-pity leads to nowhere. Nor does being angry at the world. Keep on smiling, laughing, connecting with others and see the good in the world. Who knows, in that process, you might even inspire others to be kinder by remaining poised and empathetic.
How do you deal with setbacks and negativity? Feel free to join the discussion in our Network – “Life”, to share your testimony and engage with other people on that topic.