The Champ

It’s fair to say that the last few months have been pretty tough for us.

The wedding was amazing and the honeymoon everything we dreamed it would be, but the come-down both emotionally and financially afterwards has been intense.

I’ve been here before, though – probably too many times to mention. I’ve fought my way back from the blackest of nights, kept myself moving forward to wait for the dawn and find ways to keep going even when it seems like there’s nothing left to keep going for (don’t worry, things are definitely not that bad right now!).

Over the years I’ve developed a simple 5-step strategy for getting a grasp on what’s bothering me, wresting back control of my mind and my life and getting myself back on track.

1. Wallow

The vital that you take the time to properly wallow in your worries. Really let yourself feel dreadful, switch off to the world, feel sorry for yourself.

Sit around in your underwear all day, watch terrible movies, eat junk and feel awful.

But remind yourself all day that this is your 24 hours of wallowing. You have one day and one night to sit, wallow and feel bad, then tomorrow morning you’re going to cast it aside, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get going again.

My friend Jessie wrote about just this idea in her newsletter this week – I highly recommend you sign up!

2. Remember the bad times

Many people council when we’re struggling through tough times we need to cling to the positive experiences we’ve enjoyed before. I disagree.

That last thing I want to do when I’m feeling down is to think of how happy I have been before. I think we need to think about how low we’ve sunk in the past to help remind ourselves there’s a way back out.

Everyone has ups and downs – there is not a person on the planet who doesn’t ride life’s roller coaster, even if some have it more bumpy than others.

Looking back at the troughs of our past serves to show us that no matter how low we feel we’ve reached, we’ve always managed to pick ourselves back up before and, by logical extension, we’d get ourselves out of our current rut, too.

3. Find something each day

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, we need to go back to the original purpose of this blog: smile through it.

Not just “be happy” because that’s dreadful advice that never works, but keep our eyes, minds and hearts open to finding one positive experience each day, one moment that raises a smile, one funny post on our Facebook or happy phone call with an old friend that can make the day worthwhile.

Finding just one thing can make the difference between a day that seems to have been pointless and a day that can be bared and repeated tomorrow. We’re making progress.

4. Surround yourself with awesome people

Once we’ve got our wallowing over with and we’re coming back out to face the world, we can actively seek the daily smile by surrounding ourselves with awesome people.

I’m not going to lie, it helps enormously if they are friends and family in the real, physical world that you can visit, spend time with, share stories and laughter with and lift your spirits.

But it is possible to surround ourselves with wonderful virtual people, too. Back in the bad old days when this was a diary of my illness leading up to transplant, a huge amount of the support I got to pull myself out of my regular depths was from people I’d never met leaving comments or emailing me encouragement.

Connect online with the kind of people you admire and that inspire you. Talk to people, share stories, ask for guidance and take comments on-board.

People are awesome and we only need a few of those awesome people in our life to make a huge difference.

5. Do something

Avenue Q may have been riffing on the age-old problem of finding “purpose” to our lives, but giving ourselves something to do, a project to manage, a goal to reach can be the final step that pulls us out of our funk.

In the last few weeks I’ve taken on 2 big new projects – one short-term, one longer-term – and turned my focus to them entirely. By narrowing my focus, setting myself a tough but achievable goal and visualising how they’re both going to go I’ve manage to inspire myself to get out of my funk and back into the world.

(Sadly, right now I can’t say anything about either of them, but I hope they’ll both be announced next week (or one of them later today, so keep your eyes on my Twitter feed) – if you want to hear about them first, just sign-up to the newsletter to get the latest straight to your inbox.)

Staying Positive

It’s never possible to stay 100% positive 100% of the time. But I’ve followed these five steps for pulling myself up and out of whatever problems I’m facing numerous times over the years and they work.

Trying to see the best in everyone and everything will always help things to look more rosy, but we all get down about things sometimes. We just need to remember that no matter how bad things get, there is always a chink of light at the end of the tunnel that will turn into blinding sunlight if we can just keep ploughing on and get to the end.

Keep smiling!

Photo credit: Rob Schultz

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