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So you’ve hit a hard point in life and you’re probably wondering what to do.
Just about all of us have been through this at some point, and you ARE going to get through this too.
Things are probably looking pretty bleak right now, and you might be in the middle of a downward spiral, feeling that you’ve ruined your life irreparably.
Sure, you may be in a pretty dire situation at the moment, but considering that you’re still breathing, and reading this article, things are definitely salvageable.
To repair and rebuild you life after you ‘ruined’ it, take some of our advice.
1. Write a gratitude list.
Once, when I was riding a train cross country, a very wise stranger I met told me: “Be grateful for what you still have, because everything could always get worse.”
I was going through a pretty horrible time just then, and his words helped me to re-center myself.
You probably don’t want to think about all the other things that could possibly go wrong right now, so let’s shift perspective and focus on the good for a moment.
Write down all the things that you have to be grateful for right now. This could include anything from a working pen and a box of tea in the cupboard, to an affectionate pet, or a plant that hasn’t keeled over on you just yet.
Be sure to write down every single thing that might help you shift your attention to the positive.
Are you wearing warm socks? Doesn’t matter if they match, so long as your feet are warm. Is your pen working? Good, write that down too.
All these tiny little fragments of positivity will help you to build the new foundational framework for how you’re going to rebuild your life.
2. Realize that no ties = freedom to change.
One of the things that people panic about the most when they feel that they’ve ‘ruined’ their life is all the changes they’re about to face.
For example, someone who’s been caught cheating might suddenly be faced with the prospect of a divorce, losing their house, and dealing with a drastic change to their relationship with their kids.
But those changes don’t necessarily need to be a bad thing.
Think about it for a second. Although it may not feel like it right now, this is an amazing time and opportunity for complete change. When you don’t have any shackles, you are free to change direction entirely.
If everything you’ve worked on so far is broken, and all you’ve built or accumulated is lost, then you have no ties binding you. To anything.
In essence, you’re free to live the life that you’ve always wanted.
This entire situation may feel utterly awful, and although you might not believe it right now, this can be a blessing if you allow it to be.
After all, when you’re working with a blank slate, then a complete re-ordering of your world is more within your grasp.
When you have nothing, then you have nothing to lose. And thereby, with the desperate fire and courage pounding through your chest, you can make incredible things happen in a very short amount of time.
3. Ask yourself: who do you want to be?
Please know that there is a tremendous power within you. Deep within your heart and soul lies the ability to recreate yourself.
Within your fear there will be a desire and a passion. It’s not easy to see past the fear and it will require consistent effort to not allow it to cloud your vision, but if you look hard enough, you’ll find some important truths there.
These things are what can help you become who you’ve always dreamed of being.
But beware; what you find when looking inward is not always what it appears to be.
Analyze deeply whether the things you desire (or believe will make you happy or fulfilled) are things of worth and substance.
How do you feel when you’re doing whatever it is you believe makes you truly happy?
Do they inspire you? Do you truly enjoy doing them? Or do you do them grudgingly because you think you “should”?
Do you think you want those things, but then find every excuse to avoid taking the actions required to achieve what you’re dreaming about? This generally means that you aren’t truly sincere about wanting those things in the first place.
As you write a list of things you want to do to build your new life, only pursue things you truly love. By doing so, you’ll be sincere in your endeavors, and you’ll put real effort into pursuing them.
4. Try to accept these changes with courage and grace.
Often, when people lose things, their instant response is to grasp to get it back, but they need to ask themselves whether they really and truly want it.
Were you happy and fulfilled where you were?
What were the negative aspects and repercussions about the situation(s) you were in?
Sometimes, what feels amazing and ideal in the moment, thinking that’s what we really wanted, turns out to be less than ideal in hindsight.
Acceptance is not something that simply happens, however. It’s a mental process like any other.
Every time you feel yourself longing for the past life that might now be beyond rescuing, you have to bring your mind back to the positives of your new situation.
Revisit that gratitude list. Make a new one in your mind at that precise moment to reflect the good that’s around you.
The more you can feel better about your new situation, the easier it will be to accept it rather than fight against it.
That’s not to say that your feeling that you’ve ruined your life isn’t valid. It’s absolutely okay to experience many difficult emotions when your life has been turned upside down, especially when it is through your own actions.
You should feel these feelings and allow yourself to work through them. Don’t bottle them up and hope that they’ll disappear because they’ll only resurface at a later point.
Accept the situation you find yourself in, accept the feelings you feel, but also accept that inevitable reality that things will improve with time.
5. Identify actions you can take to improve your situation.
First and foremost, try to be comfortable with your current discomfort. Yes, things are difficult right now, and that’s okay.
Try to avoid running from or numbing the pain because those things will not address the causes of your discomfort.
The best way to feel better is to take action.
So, return to your list that details who you want to be and the kind of life you want to create.
Then, work backwards from that end point and construct a number of steps that are needed to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
Turn these steps into goals – both long term goals and the short term goals that lead to them.
Remember that a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. Merely getting off the couch is the first step to being able to run a marathon.
By doing just a bit of effort every single day, you’re working toward the person you want to be.
6. Do things that generate positive emotions.
Aside from the gratitude list you’ve already made, there are plenty of things that you can do to feel good in the present moment.
And while they cannot fix the problems in your life, they can give you the resilience and motivation you’ll need to get past this difficult stage.
A positive emotion amidst all the negativity you are probably feeling right now could be enough to pull you out of a downward spiral and see the opportunity that you’re now being presented with.
Some of these things might include:
Getting out into nature: there is something so mentally and emotionally cleansing about escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immersing yourself in a natural environment.
Visit some green spaces, the ocean, lakes, or pretty much anywhere away from the concrete jungle of our towns and cities. Try not to take your phone with you if you can, or keep it on silent and avoid looking at it.
Hobbies you already enjoy: when you feel like you’ve ruined your life, it can be easy to give up on the activities you currently do on a regular basis. After all, who cares about that team sport or jam making when you’ve screwed up and are facing the consequences?
But you did those hobbies for a reason, and that reason was hopefully that you enjoyed them. Sure, you may not get quite so much enjoyment from them right now, but they can help to give your mind a rest from the worries of your life and boost the feel-good chemicals your body releases.
Spending time with people whose company you enjoy: you might feel like shutting yourself away from the world right now, but I’d urge you not to. Social interaction with the right people will make you feel better.
You can discuss your problems if you like and see if they have any advice, but it might be a better idea to talk about something else instead. Ask them about their life; get them talking and really take an interest in what they are saying.
Engaging with other people will make you realize that life goes on and you have people in your life who love and care about you.
Moving your body: you might not be much of an exercise person, but there are great mental health benefits to getting active and raising your heart rate.
Not only is it empowering to know that you can run or swim or walk and push yourself, your body releases endorphins and other chemicals as you do it which improve your mood.
7. Give yourself a break.
Finally, you need to avoid blaming yourself over and over again for ruining your life.
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t take responsibility – because you 100% should if this is a situation of your own making – but there is a big difference between responsibility and blame.
Taking responsibility means owning what you did whereas blaming yourself means finding fault in who you are as a person.
Taking responsibility is the thought, “I know I made a mistake.” Blaming yourself is the thought, “I am stupid, weak, useless.”
See the difference?
So don’t be so hard on yourself for whatever actions you took that led to where you are now.
Sure, it might represent a flaw, but we’re all flawed in many ways. It doesn’t make you a bad person.
If you are to pull things together and take forward steps toward a brighter future, you need to be kind to yourself and be patient with yourself.
If all you do is talk yourself down – both out loud and in your head – you’ll find it more difficult to take the kind of positive action that is required.
Still not sure how to move forwards if you think you’ve ruined your life? Speak to a life coach today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one.
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