Yes, we all know the answer… "make lemonade". It’s a fairly hackneyed saying, but often behind these clichés you’ll find a grain of truth about life.

One thing is certain: life never goes in straight lines. Like the heart monitor, it should have its ups and downs, because no one wants to see a flat line! If life was simply good all of the time we’d have no comparisons to make, no light and shade; it’s the contrast that makes the light times seem even brighter.

That isn’t to minimise the impact adversity can have on your life; we don’t call them tough times for nothing.  But when it feels like everything around you is going wrong, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by negativity and unwittingly let it seep into other areas of your life that are fundamentally going well.

I firmly believe "stress rolls downhill". For example, if things are going badly at work and you feel unhappy, you are less likely to confront your boss with your worries and more likely to take things out on those around you through sheer frustration.

Getting caught up in the maelstrom that life sometimes throws at you can really blow you off course, so when this happens it’s absolutely vital you create your own "eye of the storm". In other words, take a step back, right out of the situation and give yourself chance to breathe.

It’s immensely difficult to make good decisions about bad situations when you feel battered on all sides by events and emotions. Giving yourself space to think will give you the chance to do it with a clear head. If this means taking yourself completely away for a certain amount of time, it will pay off in the long run, because you will give yourself the opportunity to come up with a battle plan.

It’s absolutely wonderful if you can affect change when the going gets tough, but sometimes this is just not an option. If you’re unhappy at work, the reality is though it may take time, your game plan should be to find something that suits you better. However, if you’re facing frightening health issues, that’s a more complex situation to deal with.

This kind of personal crisis can leave you feeling shell-shocked and like there is no room for manoeuvre. Being able to change the situation may not be possible, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options or that you can’t ever be happy again.

Even in the most adverse situations there is opportunity for experiencing the best humanity has to offer. Those in whom you choose to find support can often be a deep source of joy as personal relationships intensify.

Of course, when illness casts a shadow over your life, it can put enormous strain on those relationships, so it’s vital to keep talking about how you feel and also to make the time to listen to how those around you feel too. This way you can navigate the highs and lows together.

Accepting that there will be negative emotions and allowing yourself the time and space to experience and understand them will in turn pave the way for more hopeful feelings to follow.

Focusing on your abilities and what you can control is always more positive than dwelling on what you feel life has taken away from you. Staying as healthy as you can through exercise and diet is of course always beneficial, but even more so when confronted by long-term illness. 
Planning enjoyment and positive and experiences around treatments is also a way of ensuring you get the most out of life with those you love and share time with and it’s always good to have pleasurable things to focus on and look forward to no matter how small or insignificant they seem.

Writing down your thoughts, feelings and fears can be enormously cathartic and can also help you to try and make sense of what seems to be random and chaotic. It allows you to say things that might be difficult to share with others around you for fear of upsetting them.

Finally, taking life in bite-sized chunks can also be helpful. Facing the bigger picture can sometimes be scary, but building in achievable goals over short time periods will make you feel more positive and that you can still be successful even when life hasn’t gone as planned.

It’s true life can be tough and those tough times can seem insurmountable, but it’s important to remember that even in the most dire of circumstances it is possible to still experience happiness.


About the writer

Russell Hemmings

Russell Hemmings is a renowned cognitive
behavioural hypnotherapist and life coach.
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Telephone 04 427 3627 or 055 2867275