Sometimes things just don’t go as you’d wish them to go. One adversity after another sweeps into your life like waves on a shore coming against you. Everything seems to have come together in a little conspiracy. Life sucks.

If such a series of adversities happens, your life can get really overwhelming and questions like “Why is this happening to me?” or “What I have done to deserve this?” pop up in the mind. But those questions are not really helping, especially not in that state of overwhelm, anger, frustration or even depression

So what can you do inside and out to cope?

This is another post that was inspired by the feedback of my latest newsletter (thanks Mike!)

1. Stop

The first thing you need to do is to break your current state of emotional pain and negative thinking. This is necessary because you probably need to make some changes and for that being effective you have to get away a bit from the “life sucks” attitude.

The Upward and Downward Spiral:

If there are multiple negative things in your face, this could potentially develop negative momentum. When this manifests itself in your mind, your thinking and your attitude, this is called a downward spiral:

Upward Downward Spiral

The downward spiral means your inner state gets influenced by the outer events and your emotional state goes down. This must be stopped.

So the first step is always awareness: You need to recognize when you’re getting sucked in into in some kind of downward spiral and you need to stop and then break that pattern that is producing it… by doing the following…

2. You Are Not Your Situation

Avoid to create an identity out of your situation. You are no “Failure” or “Loser”, it is just a situation, which is neutral in itself. The judgement and meaning comes from you (and yes, others too, but first and foremost you are responsible for yourself) giving it a certain meaning.

What is happening is either a) as a result of what you did or how you are, or b) it came from circumstances completely out of your control.

You can change. Everybody can.

And it starts with changing your mindset. Take a step back, know that you are not the situation and take a fresh look at what you see and especially where you want to go from here…

3. Analyze. Do Not Overanalyze.

Have you understood your situation? What were the causes? What do you want instead? How can you get out? What’s the first step? Asking those kind of questions will create clarity about how things are.

Do you already have a good understanding of what happened? Or at least of what is relevant for yourself now? If so, avoid overanalyzing. The trap of overanalyzing can lead to paralysis by analysis or in the worst case to thinking loops (a cause for developing depression). So while understanding is important, on the other hand don’t overdo it.

4. Accept

Sometimes you have to accept a situation. Acceptance of “what is” can be very powerful because it can clear your way, make room for something new to emerge and end an inner fight that is futile by nature.

Still accepting doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t change the situation, it is merely an alignment with the truth of your situation. When you accept you stop struggling with what has already happened, what is reality. Only then you are open and completely ready for effective change and new positive results to enter.

5. Refocus

In order to get out of this downward spiral, after stopping the negative patterns, you need to focus your mind new. You need take away your focus from what you don’t want: negative thoughts, pessimism, overwhelm, hopelessness and put it on what you want.

Focus on solutions, your goals, your ideal life and how to get there. What is the next step in that direction? What action can you do to resolve the situation? That’s what needs to fill up your mind.

Developing a plan gives you something to hold on to. It’s not only a roadmap but also something stable that can give you safety when things fall apart.

One of the challenging tasks during difficult times is to manage your emotions: Not giving up hope, staying calm enough to not to let anger, hatred or frustration influence your action.

Seeing these positive outcomes will a) help you to create uplifting emotions and b) bring you to take action towards these results.

6. Take One Action

Taking the first step and doing something into the right direction again can be the key. We all are learning by small successes, we repeat what works (and stop what doesn’t work). So starting and doing one thing has the power to build positive momentum again.

But you need to use your new won focus and do something.

Ask yourself: What would help the most now?
Then start there.

7. Get Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Tough times can show you who your real friends are. And helping each other out will deepen relationships and has the power to create stronger bonding.

When I suffered from clinical depression in my late teens, I remember clearly who helped me out (and who did not). Yes, you are responsible for your life, but that includes asking for help.

Talk with friends, ask people who have similar situations, ask for professional help. Do your part. And ask for what you need.

You are not alone.