I’ve been writing weekly posts for well over a decade. From the outside, it would appear as if I’ve been in the groove for a very long time. I have rarely, and I mean RARELY missed a week (and we’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of weeks). When I do miss a week it’s usually because I’m on vacation or a virus is boxing my brain around.
So you might be surprised at how many weeks I don’t feel like writing, ESPECIALLY something helpful or inspirational or encouraging. In spite of the frequency of my posts, I don’t always feel like I’m in the groove.
Because life sucks sometimes.
Bad stuff frequently happens to me and people I care about. And it takes many forms, from major bad stuff like a death in the family to less major bad stuff like a night of insomnia. Bad stuff gangs up on me once in awhile, too, as if the Universe is playing some twisted game of “kill the quarterback”.
Sometimes it’s hard to get up in the morning knowing the bad stuff is waiting for me. Sometimes it’s hard to be nice to others while I’m carrying a big pile of bad stuff around with me all day. Some days it seems like the bad stuff is all there is.
But that’s not true, is it?
Yeah, life is full of bad stuff — not just for me — for EVERYBODY. But it’s also full of good stuff. If I asked you to make a list of all the good stuff and all the bad stuff in your life right now you could find a few things to put in the good column…EVEN ON YOUR WORST DAY. Don’t argue with me. You know I’m right.
But, this isn’t a post to tell you to “focus on the positives” or “just fill your heart with gratitude” for what you do have. Those ideas may seem like great advice to the one giving it. However, in my experience, when I’m in the middle of some bad stuff and someone tells me to “Look on the bright side…”, I have to resist the urge to punch them in the throat.
Instead, here are a few strategies I employ when life sucks:
1. I remind myself that my current bad stuff is temporary. There IS good stuff in life, I’m just not experiencing it right now. That’s not the same as focusing on the good stuff — it’s acknowledging both the good and the bad. It’s more like a healthy reality check.
2. I try to remember that other people are experiencing good stuff right now, even while I’m experiencing bad stuff. This reminds me to try to not rain on someone else’s parade.
3. I allow life to suck (if needed). Sometimes I can quickly change my situation and sweep away the bad stuff, but sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I have absolutely no control over the situation, I just have to live through it and let it suck until it’s done sucking. I won’t lie, this one is hard.
4. I tell someone — sometimes I tell everyone — that my life sucks right now. Hey, there’s no sense in hiding it. THEY KNOW. I try not to make it the main topic of everyday conversation (see #2 above), but I find that when I’m going through bad stuff, hiding it from everyone in my life only makes it worse. Plus, “faking it” takes a lot of energy, which is already depleted when I’m dealing with bad stuff.
5. I write, even when I don’t feel like it. For me, writing helps me think, process my feelings, and express myself. In fact I often joke that most of the time my blog posts are just letters to myself that I share with the whole world. I also find that having something consistent to create helps me feel a tiny sense of control when my world is out of whack.
I didn’t write this to tell you that my life sucks right now. I wrote it to tell you that if you feel like life sucks sometimes, you’re absolutely right. And you’re not the only one who feels that way. We all have our ways of dealing with it and I’d love to hear yours as well.
And if I’m being completely honest, the strategies I mentioned above never completely pull me out of a funk, but they almost always lessen the intensity of life-suckiness that I may be feeling in the moment.