I’m sure you’ve said this to yourself at some point in your life.
The simple answer is: Yes. Of course it can get worse!!
No one promised there would be good times and not-so-good times in equal measure. It’s not that way sometimes.
Sometimes, it rains harder and harder…and still harder and it JUST-WON’T-LET-THE-F*CK-UP! Sometimes, life is just hard. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.
If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone. There are times in everyone’s life (I mean anyone who’s ever lived on planet earth from Aristotle to Donald Trump!) when it feels like the negative train is stuck at your station with no plans to move on.
Before you think I’m being a Debbie Doomsday, this is actually a positive post. Let me elaborate…
I’m having a really difficult time right now as I get into the thick of The Do-Over Project. You see, change is really hard work–it’s been a while since I’ve gone through significant change and I forgot how tough it is (probably a lot like the pain of childbirth). It’s not that I’m feeling negative, but I am feeling overwhelmed. And that feels negative.
It doesn’t feel good to be constantly working on myself. One night it’s neurofeedback. Another it’s therapy. Another it’s singing lessons. Then there’s climbing and journaling and running and meditation and WeightWatchers and Sunday walking group and weening off meds and working full time, and, and, and!!!
The worst part is, I’ve put all this extra work on myself deliberately. It’s not like the world has thrown me curve balls–I’m doing it to myself.
I’ve talked about how difficult my process has been before and I feel I have no right to complain because it’s a deliberate act. I want to share this experience because anyone contemplating real change in their life is going to hit this same wall.
So why bother?
The end result. Ever witness a butterfly emerge from it’s cocoon? Ever seen a time-lapse of a flower as it emerges from it’s bud? It’s excruciating to watch! Oh, but the result!!!
That’s what’s kept me going lately. I’m in the cocoon, pushing out the walls so that butterfly can emerge! I don’t know when it will happen, but I don’t think I’m far off. I think that’s why the process has been so gruelling lately. I feel like I’m at a tipping point into some unknown universe. Almost, but not quite, at the moment when the tide turns.
I guess that’s the positive takeaway: no matter how difficult, the tide always turns. It has to because that’s what tides do! So what do you do until it does?
Give yourself a break. I took yesterday off because I had a headache and didn’t sleep well. At first I felt guilty because I wasn’t “sick enough” to stay home. Now I realize how much I needed that time. At this stage of change, you need to just get through it. Cut out a some activities, if you find it’s too much (guess what I’ll be doing in the near future?!). Instead of wearing yourself down further, find ways to rejuvenate. Take more walks, get a massage, etc.
Don’t make any major life decisions. Sometimes I think, “Maybe if I get a new house or change jobs…” As appealing as those changes are, they’re only shiny distractions. What you really need now is unshiny, slow plodding progress to the finish line. Ughh!! Not nearly as sexy as a new car!
Pay attention and applaud yourself. Look for evidence of small changes and celebrate them. Drastic change only happen on “The Biggest Loser” — and it usually doesn’t last. A small change is easier to repeat, and thus leads to solid, long-term change. For example, taking the day off even though I wasn’t deathly ill is a small change for me–it’s not something I’d typically do. Hurray!
Don’t isolate yourself. It can feel like a very lonely journey at times. It is, in a way, because you’re the only one who can make the change. At the same time, as I said at the beginning of this post, everyone’s been through it. Tell people who are close to you and they’ll help pull you out of your cocoon!
Remember: Things might get worse before they get better, but the end results are worth (if you can stand one more metaphor!) riding the wave.