Life is not fair: How to be OK with not being OK

It’s come to my attention that there are some of you out there who are struggling with some stuff. And that’s OK. Life is about struggle, and without it we would be a bunch of weak and whiny children.

I heard something the other day and it made a lot of sense. “Without the dragons, there would be no heroes.” So don’t fear your dragon. Don’t run from it. Be thankful for it, because your dragon – and how you choose to slay it, and if you choose to slay it – will teach you many things, if you let it.

Life is not fair. It can really be tough at moments, and to expect it to be all rainbows and unicorns is unrealistic. We know this. And yet sometimes life can hit you right between the eyes when you are least expecting it, and it’s tough trying to recover from that.

It’s good to have a support system. And these come in all forms. If you have someone willing to listen, that’s a great gift, you are lucky. Not everyone is blessed with similar social circumstances.

If you happen to be someone with limited resources in this department, things will be a bit tougher, but not unsurpassably so. Here are a few suggestions for those of you who are having a hard time with what life may have dealt you lately.

First of all, don’t worry. Worry is just wasted energy. You can’t always control what happens, but you can usually control your reaction to it. Do what you can and then relax, knowing you’ve done all you can do.

Remember that there can be many outcomes to a situation. Sometimes it’s tough to wait and watch, but there are great lessons in this. Try to embrace the wisdom of the process.

Our society is a bit bent on having us be happy all the time. But that’s not reality either. It’s OK to be down, to be sad, to be dark. Emotions need to be processed. They need time to be felt properly and then put in perspective.

We shouldn’t feel bad about that. Learn how to be OK with being alone, by yourself. But a word of warning here … if your thoughts start to get too dark, change something, and do not wait. Dark thoughts will eat you up if you let them. So don’t let them. Here are some ideas on what to do when things are not OK and your mind just won’t shut off thinking about the situation.

Buy yourself something nice and don’t worry about the cost. Nothing cheers me up like buying a new purse, shoes or piece of jewelry. But for me it’s not how much I can spend, but how little. I really get a kick out of finding stuff on clearance, and you would be surprised by what I do find. And spending time digging through the clearance stuff really takes your mind off of whatever is eating away at you.

I have spent hours doing this on a sunny Saturday afternoon and it’s so much cheaper than therapy.

Eat your favorite thing and don’t worry about the calories. I don’t care who you are and what diet you are on, if you don’t treat yourself to something ridiculous once a week, you aren’t living.

It won’t affect anything, unless you start doing it every day of the week, but you aren’t going to do that. You are just going to go out and get yourself that piece of pie, giant soft-serve cone, or cheese-covered mound of goodness, and you are going to enjoy every mouthful. And you will not feel one bit guilty about it when you finish.

Get OUT. Literally. Get outside and do something. Anything. Take a walk. Ride a bike. Go streaking. Just sit in a park or on your porch and watch the world go by. Notice little things. Birds, squirrels, bumblebees and small children can be hilarious at times. You just have to pay attention. Simplify your world by enjoying simpler things.

Discover a new place in town that you’ve been meaning to check out. Or, go and visit an old favorite. One of my favorite things to do is to get lost in art.

Spend an afternoon visiting local galleries, an arts center, or a museum. Or stay home and make some art. That works, too.

I have a box of crayons, markers, pencils and some blank journals in a basket that I take on the porch with me and just doodle at times with no particular sense of direction, and some interesting things result from that. It’s the process, not the result here that is working for you. So don’t worry about that. Just go for it.

Spend a morning hitting rummage sales. Being a creative person and a bargain hunter, rummage sales really trip my trigger. People usually get rid of stuff they feel they no longer have a use for, but I can usually figure out a new use for almost anything. So rummage sales are great therapy for me and keep my mind busy grinding away at what all this stuff could be in its next life. Perhaps this works for you as well.

Indulge yourself in your favorite thing. Dance. Read. Make. I mean totally immerse yourself. Get a little crazy with it. Nobody’s looking. Go for it and don’t consider that failure is even an option.

Again, it’s the process and not the end result. In fact, jump into it figuring you WILL fail. That way, whatever happens is a total success. Make that crazy work for you.

Find comfort in the companion of a pet, or someone else’s pet. You can tell them anything, and go on and on, repeating yourself even, and they won’t care a bit. They will sit there and let you rub their ears forever, no matter what. Can’t say that about people. Well, most of them, anyway.

Do something awesome for someone else. When we help someone else up a mountain, we get nearer the top ourselves. Forget yourself in service to someone else. There is always someone else with worse problems than you. Find them and be their hero. And remember that sometimes, just listening is one of the best things you can do when someone has a problem. Make sure to follow up with a great big hug.

I should mention though, that this is by no means a complete list. This is simply my list. You might find solace in gardening, carving, cooking or tinkering. A very dear friend of mine once told me when I was suffering through a major crisis that yes, things are going to be sh*tty for a while.

They suggested I make a list of things that made me feel really, really good, and when the days become unbearably sh*tty, to start doing some of the things on the list. It was excellent advice, and I have passed it along to many.

Your list might be different. Make the list. Add to it when necessary. Be gentle with yourself and take good care of yourself. People are counting on you, whether you realize it or not. People are looking up to you, whether you realize it or not. And while yes, some people out there might be judging you, remember that they don’t matter. Remember that there are people who love and care about you, and that you are a great inspiration to them.

So be inspiring. Be strong when you can, and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t.

Just lay your load down when you need to and take a break, have a good cry, do what you need to do, and know that eventually the good days will outnumber the bad ones. I promise.

Originally published May 30, 2014.

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