How to Survive a Rough Patch

You know those times when everything feels like too much?  When there are a hundred thousand people and things calling for your attention and it feels like you are moving through mud?  When sadness or anger that feels like it’s been stored up for a lifetime comes knocking and you don’t feel safe with yourself?  When people you rely on disappoint you and you can’t find a soft space to land?

Those times when the going gets tough and you are right in the thick of it?

Here’s what helps:

  • Prioritize the basics.  You know what this means for you.  For me they are rest, good food, movement, meditation, meetings.
  • Go complaint-free.  Complaining is a natural response to hard times because it discharges some energy.  Trouble is, it feeds that energy right back in the direction of what you don’t want and dilutes your ability to make empowered decisions.  Even if you don’t consider yourself a complainer, keep watch for this.  Subtle complaining is just as much of an energy drain.
  • Instead, find someone who can hold a container for your difficult emotion/experience.  It’s tempting to either keep everything inside or vent your troubles to anyone in earshot.  Neither is therapeutic.  Ask someone you trust to listen to you for ten minutes.  No advice giving or fixing allowed, unless it’s solicited.  You are asking for a witness. This is the place to vent it all out, all the fear/hurt/anger/frustration/confusion.  After ten minutes, they are to help you move on.  This is a powerful tool for processing emotions or experiences that feel too big to be with alone.
  • Write.  Let it rip.  Burn it.
  • Play music to match your mood.  Do some conscious wallowing.
  • Decide:
  •           Who do I want to be in this situation?
  •           How do I want to feel?
  •           What is the ideal outcome?
  • Act from that place.
  • Reach out to someone else.  See if they need a listener.  Offer to help.
  • Above all, choose kindness.  Kindness is the only thing that makes sense when things get heavy.  Kindness is always available and always possible.  Start with yourself.  Move on to the others.  To be human is to spend a good amount of time being very, very confused.  Kindness is the antidote. *


*To be clear, kindness is not the same as being nice and sweet, nor does it imply weak boundaries or being la-de-da all the time.  Kindness can be gentle and warm and it can also be fierce and strong.  Kindness is always potent, and courageous.


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