1. Your life is probably never going to look the way you thought it would, so stop using your expectations as a gauge of success and/or happiness. Realize that so much will happen in your life that you could never foresee. Shit happens, things change, and you’re going to be constantly thrown off course, forcing yourself to return to the drawing board to figure out what to do next. Being able to foster resilience and flexibility in the present will be a true marker of actually feeling happy and successful, not chasing after your idealized “someday.”
2. Shaming and berating yourself won’t lead to lasting change. Sure, it could work in the beginning, but it just isn’t sustainable to constantly be cruel to yourself as a means of “inspiration.” Eventually, that negative self-talk is going to backfire and make you want to give up as opposed to keep going. Instead, learn to practice compassion and patience with yourself when you’re trying to make the changes you need to become a happier, healthier version of yourself. Acknowledge that shit is tough, but that you’re also more than capable of doing what you need to do to be okay again.
3. Forget one day at a time, try focusing on one moment at a time. When you’re in a place of personal crisis, sometimes even focusing on a day at a time can be overwhelming. Try instead to take it moment by moment. A lot can happen in a day, so learning how to deal with each minute as it comes will be much more productive and manageable than looking at an entire 24 hours and trying to figure out how the hell you’re going to handle it.
4. You don’t know what you don’t know. You never know what will make you happy until you’re introduced to it. You never know who you will love until you meet them. You never know what your dream job is until you’re working it. Remember this always. There is so much you don’t know and that fact alone should give you a little hope.
5. It is, by all means, actually just fine to feel fucking bad sometimes. Sadness is okay. Anger is okay. Despair is okay. Loneliness is okay. Stop trying to suppress “bad” feelings and just let them do their thing. They exist for a reason. And besides, even if you swallow them and push them away, they’re bound to reappear again and then you’ll really have to deal with their wrath. Trust me.
6. Don’t be afraid to get honest with yourself and ask (and answer) the tough questions. Take a hard look at yourself, at your choices, at your relationships, at your job, at your life, and figure out why things aren’t working. Figure out what has turned toxic and figure out how to fix it (or how to let it go).
7. Sometimes, happiness isn’t the immediate goal. Sometimes it’s just feeling a little less shitty. We live in a society that is so hellbent on being optimistic and happy all the time it’s hard not to feel like a failure when you can’t find the silver lining in your own situation. Sometimes you just can’t be happy and that’s not at all a bad thing. It’s simply a human thing. Focus instead on trying to feel a little better than you do now. Just a bit. That’s all.
8. Healing isn’t linear. It’s going to be a lot of two steps forward and three steps back. And you know what? That’s still making progress.
9. Everything is as it should be. Realize that based on your choices and circumstances, everything really is as it should be. Try and let this fact bring you a little peace. You’re right where you should be.
10. You don’t have to do everything on your own. It’s okay to ask for help. I know you’ve heard this so many times but this advice always bears repeating.
11. Get back in touch with your intuition. Yeah, intuition. Remember that? That sinking feeling you get in your stomach when you know something isn’t good for you, or that feeling of lightness when you just know you’re doing the right thing? Learn to feel all that again. It’s there to guide you. You know a hell of a lot less than you think you do, but you also know a hell of a lot more than you think you do.
12. It’s okay to take a step back and go it alone for a little while. When it comes down to it all, you really do need to save yourself. As mentioned above, it’s okay to ask for help but sometimes the best person to help you is, well, you. One of the best things you can do for yourself is solely focusing on you and what you need to do to be okay. It isn’t selfish to do this. Your friends will understand if you have to be MIA for a little while. Just let them know you need to do you for a while and then…do you.
13. There is no timeline for healing. Stop shoulding on yourself, thinking you “should feel better by now” or you “should be happier already,” or that you “should be over it already.” Enough. Accept that you aren’t over it, that you aren’t feeling better, and keep working towards it. That’s really all you can do.
14. You probably cause more problems for yourself than you are letting yourself realize. Sorry, but it’s true. You have more power over your life than you know or are allowing yourself to tap into. Cut the bullshit, acknowledge what isn’t working, and do something about it. You owe it to yourself to.