Difficult days and times in our lives, we all have them, in our past, present and future. Some days we cope well, others feel like never ending pain and emptiness. Then we have to take care. How?
1. Difficult days can be ordinary or special days
- Family days, Bank Holidays, holidays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day;
- Days when we lose someone close to us;
- Days when part of who we are crumbles;
- Days when we feel so acutely, that life is not what we want it to be; you name it.
Difficult days can be straight forward or complex, just like any other day.
On difficult days we may feel alone and not belonging to the rest of society or even our family.
We all have our own unique relationship with our parents and children: those we have, the ones we wish we had, those we never had, the ones we have lost and those we may be about to lose.
We all have our own unique stories. And often such days bring these stories back alive and reignite difficult emotions, unresolved issues, memories, hopes or disappointments, sadness and grief.
And on such difficult days we may realise (again), that we have not moved on as much as we had hoped, or that we struggle with what may lie ahead.
If that is you, then how can you deal with such days and the challenges or difficulties they represent for you?
2. What is stopping us from moving on from difficult days?
More often than not, what gets in our way and stops us from moving on are fear, resentment, guilt and (self) criticism. Our thinking, feeling and pattern of relating to others and ourselves are often deeply affected by any one or a combination of these feelings and attitudes. This is a heavy burden to carry, which takes energy and can keep us in the victim mode.
Over time we can get very rigid in this position, which overshadows our view of life and shapes the experiences we have. Unless we can proactively deal with fear, resentment, guilt and criticism we are bound to live our lives in a way that will repeat more of the same.
3. Accepting Limitations
Often we find it hard to accept the limitations of others and our own.
Why? Because we may think acceptance is about giving in, settling for second or third best.
I don’t see acceptance in that way at all. Achieving constructive acceptance is not easy. Yet it can help us gain some release from painful emotions like anger, fear, hatred and grief.
- If our parent/s did not know how to love and positively accept themselves, then s/he may have found it hard to teach us how to love and value ourselves.
- If we experienced a lot of criticism and doubt in our childhood, then there is a good chance we have been left with a tendency to be highly critical of others and ourselves.
- If our children have not turned out the way we hoped, we may carry disappointment and a sense of guilt.
- If our parent/s have died we may be grieving their loss.
- If we have lost a child or have never been able to conceive, then we too may be grieving for those who have passed too soon, or for the chance we have never had.
4. Letting go. But how?
Some say that the antidote to those very understandable and human difficulties is the willingness to love, forgive and to let go of the past. All too easily can we get stuck in the past, concede control and power of our lives to what has or could have been. With that frame of mind, perspective on life, and heavy heart it is difficult to move on.
I know that is hard, when others, circumstances or we ourselves have made things difficult, especially if done wilfully.
Anger and resentment can be justified! But it can destroy years of our lives. And it can destroy us.
Allowing ourselves to become less rigid and entertaining the belief that we have done the best we could, that is an important start in addressing some of the difficulties we may experience on such difficult days.
5. We can only truly change ourselves.
We may need to realise and accept, that we cannot change others. It is not our job. But with kindness we may show them directly or indirectly towards their path of change. But it is they who have to get up and start walking. We cannot pull them – for the rest of our lives.
Our job is to make sure we make the good changes happen, that we need. Ultimately, we all have choices and we are responsible for our individual lives and the consequences of the choices we make – that goes for our parents as much as for our children (especially if grown up).
6. What about guilt, shame, resentment, fear …
If you recognise fear, resentment, guilt, shame and criticism in your life, then you know how seductive even damaging feelings and beliefs can be. Even if you want something else for your life (like peace of mind, self worth and feeling safe) you may find yourself rejecting any attempt to make these come true. Because fear and self criticism may keep you trapped for fear of failure or pain, which in turn feeds resentment and guilt.
It is a vicious circle, which can be brought to an end – without blame or judgment.
We all do what we do and think what we think for a reason. Sometimes in life we may recognise that pattern, accept it for what it is, and we may be ready and willing to move on.
7. Stepping out of our self imposed limitations.
If some of this resonates with you, then perhaps today can be your opportunity to let the past be what it is, step out of its confines and start choosing what you want to do next.
You are in charge of how you think about yourself and your life.
You are entitled to and capable of repeating negative thoughts and beliefs. You are equally entitled to and capable of adopting a less restrictive and more positive attitude towards yourself, life and the world around you.
If you feel any internal resistance or disbelief about what I have said, than your are on the first step to change, which starts with noticing resistance, not fighting it, but not giving in to it either.
Move gracefully through the fear that resistance is based on and you may find the first hurdle dissolving very quickly, if you let it.
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Need some advice? Submit your question to my #DearKarin advice column here. Karin Sieger BA (Hons), MA (PsychCouns), Reg. MBACP (Accred) is a therapist and writer. All rights reserved © Karin Sieger. Neither articles nor videos substitute medical advice or therapy.