On life

When I am not okay

I once wrote that I wanted to be as honest as possible on my blog. I never want to pretend to have a perfect life or paint a rosy picture. Although I (obviously) edit my photos, I won’t edit my life. Ever. I am a positive person, but I also have hard days, painful moments and sometimes all I want to do is cry. This is how I deal with those days.

1. I don’t pretend to be okay.

This is the most important thing. When I’m having a bad day, for whatever reason, I only feel worse when I pretend I’m fine. The most important thing I’ve learned so far in my life, is that you should never smile when you feel like crying. When I am not okay, you will know. I never pretend to be fine when I’m not. I allow myself to feel sad, or angry, or anxious, or whatever. The feeling might pass and it might not, but it will be much easier to deal with when you acknowledge it’s there. Life isn’t fun all the time; trust me I know. And often things happen that are out of your control. But your emotions and feelings are yours. Allow yourself to feel them, they’re there for a reason.

2. I reach out to people

Research has shown (over and over again) that the happiest people are the ones who have a good social life. Friends and family are so important – keep them close, cherish them and don’t be afraid to let them in when you need them. I had a very bad day yesterday and my first instinct was to call everyone. Note: this is new for me. I used to bottle everything up and deal with stuff myself. I wouldn’t call anyone; I would feel ashamed. I wouldn’t want people to know I was feeling down. This is destructive behavior: you need other people to pick you up sometimes. Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help. You’ll feel so much better.

3. I reflect on how I’m feeling

Another important thing I’ve learned is to take a moment to reflect on how I’m feeling. I do this when I’m feeling ‘mild’ negative emotions, such as boredom, but also when I’m feeling anxious or panicked. Take a moment to look at yourself and realize what the emotions are doing to you. Also: decide if they’re worth it. The other day the engine of my car failed when I was driving on the highway. A few years ago the same thing happened and I panicked. I immediately pulled over and called a mechanic to come help me. He couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so I drove home and took the train to work instead. This was three years ago. What did I do now? I pulled over, turned off the car, restarted it and drove on. Nothing happened. The car works perfectly again. No fear, no panic, just a teensy bit of anxiety. What a change.

4. I drop everything else

No matter how ‘good’ I deal with the bad stuff, I’m not perfect. When something really bad happens and I get that one phone call I’ve been dreading, I drop everything else. When I’m at work, everything can wait. When I’ve got plans with friends, I cancel them. I need to be on my own. I can’t process things any other way. I know people who drown themselves in work, but I’m not like that. I like to deal with things head on – whether they’re good or bad. The first thing I do is take action and think: what can I do to make this better?

5. I take care of myself

Once the immediate panic has passed, I deal with the situation by distracting myself. You can’t worry about things you can’t control, so the most important thing to do is to take care of yourself. Just a side note: the stuff I’m dealing with usually has to do with other people screwing up their lives. This is also why my life is so ‘together’ and why I’m such a control freak. I’m healthy and happy most of the time and my life is pretty much in order. If you recognize this and spend a lot of time worrying about others: start by taking care of yourself. You are the most important person in your life. Without you, you wouldn’t be here. You need to be okay yourself, before you can take care of other people. Don’t forget about your own needs to take care of others. You are much stronger than you know, but not indestructible. Don’t forget about yourself – you need each other.

Another very important thing: don’t worry, no matter how bad it is: it will always pass. Always. Nothing lasts forever.

 

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