Here’s my depression in a nutshell: Life is hard and I don’t wanna do it anymore.
And guess what? When that was my reality, there was no arguing against it. Trying to convince myself that life wasn’t in fact hard didn’t work. And neither did trying to willpower myself into wanting to keep enduring.
Why? Because I was absolutely one hundred percent right. My feelings were completely valid. Life felt unbearably hard to me and I had lost my will to keep at it. I had given up.
But today I’m not depressed anymore. And I don’t think I ever will be again. I still go through the ups and downs, as is normal, but I don’t get stuck in the downs anymore.
Why? How did I get here?
Well, my life didn’t suddenly get easier if that’s what you’re wondering. There was no fairy godmother waving a magic wand.
Life is and always will be hard at least to some extent. There’s an interesting article in Psychology Today that explains why life is hard from the perspective of evolutionary psychology.
But I have a simpler explanation for why life is hard: Life is hard, because shit happens and it feels bad. And even if we try our damnedest, we can’t control all the shit.
Life is hard and it always will be.
So what actually made a difference in how I was feeling about life was learning a new way of dealing with the hard.
I don’t just get pummeled with shit anymore and collapse under the weight of it. I get pummeled with shit, like we all do, but I learned how to take care of myself and make myself stronger so it wouldn’t affect me as much. And I also learned how to clean myself up and move to higher ground where the shit storms aren’t quite as frequent. 🙂
Here’s what I learned.
What To Do When Life Is Hard
1. Admit That You’re Not All-Knowing And Neither Are The People You Hang With
Turns out I used to do a lot of hopeless wallowing that was entirely unnecessary. There have been an embarrassingly large number of times when life was hard and I was one hundred percent convinced that there was nothing I could do about it.
And yes, a few of those times my conviction was warranted. Like, I’ll never get back the baby I lost. That’s a hard thing that I could do nothing about other than grieve.
But much more often, it wasn’t that nothing could be done. It was that I just didn’t know what to do and neither did the first few family members / friends / too-busy-to-keep-up-with-the-latest-research experts I consulted.
And all those times – if I decided to keep an open mind and keep searching for solutions – I eventually found an article or a book or an expert that could help me figure out what to do. Or my own intuition would help me see an alternative path.
An easier path.
So these days, when life is hard, my first response is no longer to collapse. It’s to remind myself that I’m not all-knowing. That the world is full of knowledge I have not yet encountered.
And that maybe, just maybe, there’s a way to make this hard a little easier. And if I keep looking, I’ll eventually find it.
2. Stop Making Life Harder Than It Has To Be
Also turns out I was inadvertently making my life quite a bit harder than it needed to be.
Of course, some hard stuff is unavoidable.
But a lot of hard stuff can be either exacerbated or eased by the choices we make. And I made a whole bunch of choices early on that made my life harder than it needed to be.
I made those choices, because I didn’t know myself. Because I didn’t know what I needed to feel well. Because I didn’t have a clear set of values guiding me.
I don’t beat myself up for not knowing – there were good reasons – but this lack of self awareness resulted in me making choices about work and relationships and living environments that were not a good match for my personality and values. And as a result, my day-to-day existence became a constant battle against my nature.
Trying to develop skills in areas I wasn’t talented in. Trying to maintain relationships with people whose personalities clashed with mine. Trying to keep up with a loud, busy, activity-packed lifestyle that exhausted my highly sensitive mind and body.
And not surprisingly, life felt hard!
Once I found my authentic self though, I could slowly start undoing those old choices and replacing them with new ones.
Ones that put me on a different path. A path that was better aligned with my personality and values.
An easier path.
3. Choose Your Hard
But let’s get real. Even if we can nudge our lives toward an easier direction, we can’t ever completely avoid the hard stuff. Life is hard and it always will be. There isn’t always an easier path to choose from.
But that still doesn’t mean that we are entirely powerless. Even when faced with difficult circumstances, we often have the power to choose what kind of hard we want to struggle with.
Here are some examples of hard circumstances I’ve encountered and the options I had to choose from:
Struggling With Out-of-Control Anxiety
- HARD: Stay stressed out and battle anxiety symptoms for the rest of my life.
- HARD: Take anxiety medications and endure the side effects for the rest of my life.
- HARD: Learn how to manage my anxiety naturally.
Hating My Job
- HARD: Stay in a job I don’t like for several more decades.
- HARD: Be unemployed and struggle financially.
- HARD: Transition into a more rewarding career.
Dealing With Relationship Problems
- HARD: Doing nothing and waiting in vain for people to change.
- HARD: Trying to improve relationships with people who don’t want to change.
- HARD: Ending relationships that are not likely to improve.
In each of these cases, I ultimately chose the third option. Can you see what those options had in common?
They weren’t easy paths to choose or easy paths to walk on, but what they had in common was that they at least entailed an element of hope.
They were hard paths, but they were not dead-ends.
They were paths that would ultimately take me to a better place.
P.S. Wanna Learn More About Finding Your Path In Life?
If you’d like to learn more about finding the right path for YOU and making your life a bit easier, you might be interested in watching my Life Improvement 101 video class. It’s completely free to watch and covers:
- The SECRET to creating a lifestyle that maximizes happiness and minimizes stress.
- My simple 5-step life design process.
- The 3 critical mistakes that keep people stuck in life and how YOU can avoid them.
If you are interested, just enter your email address in the form below so I can send you an access link.
The Best Life Formula
Get Access To The FREE Video
Just enter your email address below and I'll send you a link where you can watch the video right away!