Bad things happen to good people, but it’s terrible when the good person is you. First, you need to figure out why something happened—why things had to turn out this way. And no matter what the answer is, you still have the daunting task of coming back.
You know that you need to stand up again and go on with life. But there are times when you don’t know where to start or what to do. You have grandiose plans that are just unrealistic. Here’s a list of 25 small, common sense things you can start doing for yourself to go from broken to being okay. And who knows? If you continue doing these things faithfully, you’ll soon go from just surviving to thriving.
1. Add movement
While being a couch potato has its merits and can be comfortable and comforting, in the long run, it doesn’t help you. You sit and brood and you go over the same thoughts and feelings. You allow yourself to get stuck in the past, and at the end of the day, you’ll find yourself literally on the same spot. Instead, try to add movement in your life daily. Get up, go for a walk, a run, or just join a yoga, Zumba, or any other fitness class that you find remotely interesting. Give yourself the benefit of the movement. And if you don’t like it, think of it as medicine. Adding movement in your life, you allow a cascade of endorphins, the hormones of happiness, in your body. You send yourself a powerful message of agency, inner strength, and resilience. The word is, “I have the power to do things and change my life.” And that’s what you need to hear and do right now.
2. Add new people to your life
Many people who have the experience of being broken turn inwards. They don’t reach out to others, and they don’t allow others to approach them. They shut down emotionally and socially because they feel guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, and resentment—a cocktail of negative feelings. This way, they isolate themselves and relive their wounds. On the other extreme, the devastated people who decide to share their story and their lousy mood with their friends over and over create a feeling of stuckness and stagnation. Find new people, expand your social horizon, and talk about different things, not just your sad story. Listen to other people’s stories and together find new interests and share positive feelings.
3. Make a change in your appearance
The first thing you need to do is not to let the negative experience affect your relationship with yourself. Invest in your daily self-care; any act of self-caring is essential. Self-care is not a synonym for vanity; it’s for sanity. When you are low, try and change something in your appearance—a new haircut or hairdo, a tattoo, some new clothes, anything that adds positively to your image. This way, you give yourself two critical messages: (a) you care about yourself no matter what and (b) you have the power to change, one small step at a time.
4. Rewrite your story
You suffered something painful, devastating. The more you repeat the story with an emphasis on your weakness, your mistakes, or your inability to do something better, the worse you let yourself down. Keeping this type of narrative, you don’t allow yourself to get back on your feet. So try rewriting your story! Keep a diary with the events, your thoughts, and feelings. Try to analyze what happened, to see it from a different angle, to understand what happened to you from another perspective. Is there anything you learned from your traumatic experience? Can you see that perhaps things came in a manner to teach you something important, to give you a lesson and show you a way out?
5. Embrace your authentic self
Be your authentic self and acknowledge what happened to you; recognize your trauma. Allow yourself to feel the feeling, but don’t get consumed by it. Don’t deny, and don’t try to avert your attention from what happened to you. Don’t pretend you are someone else, the person who never cries or doesn’t feel pain. Be who you are. Express your feelings the way you need to. Then pick up your pieces and put them back together. Once you accept your truth, you will be able to commit to change.
6. Figure out what’s not working for you and remove it from your life
Now that you are going through a rough time, it’s an excellent opportunity to examine what are the things that are not working out in your life. It could be a relationship, your job, your mindset, your attitude, anything. Be brave to pinpoint what’s not helping you, what’s stunting your growth, and remove it from your life. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s necessary. By removing what’s not helping you, you make room to bring in useful and practical ways to deal with life.
7. Leave your past behind you
Stop holding on to the past! You can’t bring back the good moments, and you can’t delete the bad ones. Let the past rest where it belongs—in the past. Stop trying to figure out why this person lied to you or why they dumped you or why they chose this versus that behavior. Stop maintaining false hopes that a miracle will happen and things will go back to the way they used to be. Instead, focus on the present. Focus on what you can do today to make it better, on what you can do to bring back the smile in your face.
8. Connect with people who had a similar experience and can understand you
Look for people who have had the same bad experience with you and connect with them. Discuss, exchange views, support each other, and discover your inner wisdom. This can be done through personal contact, in a friendly relationship, and in a therapeutic group, but also online by reading articles and personal testimonies of people with similar experiences. Caveat: Don’t let them be the only people you socialize with.
11. Connect with people who did not have a similar experience
As crucial as it might be to find people who have been through the same thing as you and to discuss it, it’s just as important to find people who have not had the same experience. Your life needs balance! You need to balance out the negative stimuli and the contacts that remind you of your problem with social relationships that show you the joy and optimism of life. Everything comes in pairs, after all: sadness and joy, pain and pleasure, negativity and positivity, pessimism and optimism, people with the same and people with different experiences. And when you encounter the negative one, remember that its positive counterpart is out there looking for you. All you need to do is allow it in your life.
12. Clean and declutter your space
Clean, tidy up, and organize your space! This way, you give yourself a message of strength and optimism. At the same time, it is a reminder that just as we can tidy up the world around us, we can also tidy up the world inside us, our precious inner space, our mind, and our soul. Start with those things around you, your home, your room, your office, and your bag, which are easier to clean, then proceed and tidy up your thoughts and feelings.
13. Come closer to the people who love you
Just because someone betrayed you, rejected you, hurt your feelings, dumped you, or simply broke your heart, it doesn’t mean that everyone is like that. Connect with the people who care about you. Learn to trust the people who love you and lend you a helping hand. This is the time to call, text, get closer to your tribe. They are there for you just the way you are there for them. Reach out and connect.
14. Learn something new
If you are hurting inside, or if you feel that your trauma is bigger than life, you are concentrating on your past and your pain. This is the time to learn something new, something that will motivate you to exit this painful mode. Build an internal database of new, interesting knowledge, learn a novel skill, or find information about topics on self-development—anything that you find helpful. Expand your horizons, deepen your knowledge, and allow your thinking to expand and cover new territories. This way, you remind yourself that there’s always something new to learn, something that will enable you to move forward; choose the direction of your life.
15. Find healthy ways to self-validate
Don’t wait for the perfect person to come along and congratulate or admire you. Stop wasting time and mental energy hoping that someone will validate your feelings or tell you that you are on the right track. Focus on self-affirmation and self-validation; they are the most powerful. They are also lasting because they come from within. Do more of the things that bring you happiness, connect with the right people, help others, and smile more. By doing good, you will feel good and validated.
16. Focus on the process of change, not just the result
It’s important to know what you want, the result of your effort. Yet the process of change is as essential. Be realistic: Change takes time. You need to invest energy in it. Even if you did something right and consistently for a couple of days or even a couple of weeks, it doesn’t guarantee you that you will see much change. Change requires patience. You need to be able to find joy and satisfaction in the fact that you are trying, that you are on the path of attempting to change. So don’t expect to feel happy when you reach your ultimate goal, but invest in feeling joy and satisfaction as you move towards achieving it. Remind yourself to feel good while you are doing things differently than before and have faith that you can rebuild your life.
17. Change your internal dialogue into something positive
Instead of talking to yourself in a negative and judgmental manner, change it into positive and encouraging talk. Avoid concentrating on your mistakes and flaws. Stop self-flagellating and feeling sorry for your weaknesses. Shift your attention to your strengths and capitalize on them. Learn to speak to yourself in supportive ways, focusing on solutions and not problems. And remember to pat yourself in the back not just for having good results, but even for trying.
19. Say goodbye to toxic people and situations
You hit rock bottom. That doesn’t mean you are doomed to stay there. Remember that you have inner strength. Tune in to it. Feel it. Don’t expect toxic people and situations to change or disappear from your life. You need to remove them. Own your difficulties and character flaws and realize that this is where the toxic person steps to mistreat or abuse you. Balance your weaknesses against your strengths and build on the latter. Consider deleting poisonous people from your contacts and social media.
20. Allow yourself moments of happiness
It’s going to be even better if you can focus your attention daily on the small things that bring you pleasure and satisfaction. Many people believe that happiness is something big, something that comes pouring down on you from the outside and makes you happy. It could be. Yet by all accounts, happiness is something altogether different; happiness is the cumulative effect of life’s small pleasures, life’s little moments. Of course, you have every right to wait for the big wave of happiness. In the meantime, though, allow yourself to enjoy the small moments. Learn to find happiness in the little things. This way, you open up your mind and heart to being joyful.
21. Set healthy boundaries
There are always going to be negative and toxic people, emotional vampires looming around ready to suck your energy. Are you going to allow them in your life? Don’t! Remember that just as there are stop signs for cars, there are stop signs for people. Use your words and actions to say no and close the door to these folks. Avoid situations that are counterproductive. Avoid people who drain you. Name your limits and what you can and cannot tolerate. And stick to them.
22. Adopt a good habit for 30 days
What’s something that you always wanted to do because you believe it’s a positive, healthy habit but you always postponed? It could be something like eating two pieces of fruit or a raw salad per day, writing in your journal, creating a positive mantra or a self-affirmation, walking around the block, or anything that your heart desires. Pick up this good habit and do it for at least 30 days straight. See what happens after. So don’t be surprised if you wake up on the 31st day and you feel like getting into this positive habit! New habits are a game-changer.
23. Step outside your comfort zone
It’s even better if you can allow yourself to do something that scares you. Forget about the adages “this is too hard,” “this can’t be done,” and “I’m afraid.” Feel your fear and do it anyway. From riding a wild ride to confronting a difficult person, anything you do despite your fear shows you that you have the ability. It’s a hands-on lesson that no matter how you feel, you still have control of your life and you can do what you choose.
24. Forgive others and forgive yourself
Forgiving is not a synonym for forgetting. When you forgive, you don’t minimize what someone else did or agree with their actions. Forgiving means that you allow yourself to get unstuck from past sorrows and resentments; you recognize the negative feelings someone or something caused you but you choose to continue. When you forgive yourself for what happened to you, it’s like opening the door to new possibilities. You become a free person and take your life in your hands.
25. Have a goal
That’s the right time to get a goal—big or small, it doesn’t matter. It has to be something meaningful to you, not something that you think others would approve. When you focus on a goal, it shows that you are focusing on the future, that you are optimistic that life can get better again and that you can do it. Start with a plan. Take the first step. A small one. Because all it takes for a big journey to begin is that tiny first step.