We all go through rough patches in life, some of us far more frequently than others. But whether you consider yourself regularly faced with turmoil, or only occasionally, we all know what it’s like when the collection of our current experiences (aka the “shit”) hits the proverbial fan.
It’s often in these moments that taming our emotions becomes harder than ever, and where even the tiniest of triggers, like someone cutting you off in traffic, can lead to a tirade filled with curse words and unwell wishes for a stranger you will never get to know.
While I wish I could offer a solution that would prevent your life from ever being filled with such challenging circumstances, I can’t, so instead I present five quick but powerful reminders for when shit hits the fan in your life:
1. This will make a great chapter in the book of your life.
Whether or not you ever plan on documenting and sharing the unique culmination that is your life, we all know that it is moments of hardship that make for the best chapters. They may not be fun to go through at the time, but they are always fun to reflect on and have a knack for perfectly setting the stage for later triumphs.
Think of how many times you’ve already told and retold the story of an experience that at the time was “shitty” to go through. There is a reason that comedians that tell primarily self-deprecating jokes (Louis CK, Jim Gaffigan) are so popular, so remind yourself that this crappy situation will one day make for a great story.
2. Good things come from tough situations.
Not only do challenging circumstances often make for a great story in time, they also regularly lead to and/or precede positive experiences. Whether it be a valuable life lesson, greater emotional fortitude, or an unexpected opportunity we can all think of at least one time in our life (if not many) where a good thing eventually came from a tough situation.
Even if the silver lining is not immediately apparent, focus on getting through the hardship and trust that it will make itself known soon enough.
3. You always have things to be grateful for.
When shit does hit the fan, it can be incredibly hard to think of anything but the shit and how widespread it now seems to be. But one of the simplest and most powerful tools for overcoming challenging times is to challenge yourself to immediately list off at least 10 things you are grateful for in life.
I don’t care who you are, and what your life circumstance is, we all always have way more than 10 things to be thankful for in life. Be broad (ex. I am thankful to be alive), be specific (ex. I am thankful for the way my dog Bjorn greets me excitedly when he first sees me), be anything you need to be to get your gratitude train of thoughts going and to break up the negative ones your mind depends upon to further spread the shit.
4. You control your reactions and how long they last.
You may not be able to prevent challenging circumstances from entering your life, but you are always in the driver seat of how long you allow yourself to be impacted by them. It’s natural and far healthier, in my opinion, to express rather than suppress emotions when they arise, but you do yourself a disservice when you allow them to linger for longer than they have to.
Just because you were cheated on by your now-ex, does not mean that you are forever doomed to deal with a lack of loyalty. So stop telling yourself these lies and start cleaning up the mess rather than sulking in the middle of it.
5. Persistence pays off.
We’re all human in this world, and hardship is an integral part of the human experience. That means that even those you admire have had their shit hit the fan on several occasions yet that did not let it stop them from getting to a point where you and others perceive them as admirable.
Challenging situations may slow down or even temporarily stop your train towards your goals and dreams in life, but only you decide if you are going to let it fully derail you.