Do You Like Who You Are When Life Gets Hard?

Chronic Evolution Issue 9

Hello! 👋 

Welcome to Issue 9 of the weekly Chronic Evolution newsletter, where I share mindfulness tips, tricks, and anecdotes to help you evolve your mindset in 5 minutes or less.

Let’s get right into it.

Do You Like Who You Are When Life Gets Hard?

When I was 24 years old, my mum had to lift me into bed each night.

And shave my legs for me. And even wash my hair.

Chronic pain had robbed me of all my independence.

Life got hard, I was embarrassed, and I got mean.

I was mean to myself. Constantly berating myself for not being able to walk down the street without limping or muster up the energy to hold down a full-time job.

Mentally managing my pain left me with little energy to be kind to others, either. I would snap at my loved ones when they were just trying to help.

Life got hard, and I didn't like who I became.

Will you?

Because at some point, if it hasn’t already, life will somehow get hard for you too.

That’s inevitable.

Learn from my mistakes and do the work now so you can meet the dark days and emerge from them shining.

When you go low, go higher, not lower

Dealing with hardship invariably stirs up all sorts of negative emotions – anger, frustration, discontentment, and maybe even pain. None of them feel good.

But even when you’re at your absolute lowest, you still have the power to choose how you react to your feelings.

You can let your emotions dictate your actions, swinging up and down depending on what’s happening in your life on any given day. Or you can be more mindful of and intentional about how you process negative feelings, effectively removing their ability to control you.

Putting this into practice:

  • Become more aware of your emotions by observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Many people walk around in a blind rage, out of touch with their feelings. Becoming aware of your emotions is the first step toward taking back control over them.

There’s power in how you speak to yourself

When faced with challenges, your self-talk can either be a source of motivation or self-defeat.

If you remind yourself that you can and will get through this, the weight on your shoulders will progressively lighten. Having faith and speaking to yourself with words of encouragement and confidence will help you believe there is a way forward – even if you don’t know the right path to take at this moment.

If you catastrophize your hardships (this is the worst thing ever) and view life with a victim mindset (why does this always happen to me?), you’re priming your brain to see the worst and inevitably setting yourself on a path of more bad days.

Putting this into practice:

  • Keep a thoughts journal for one week. Throughout the day, write down any prominent thoughts that come into your mind. At the end of the week, calculate how many of your thoughts were positive versus negative. This gives you raw data to work from, so you can start to optimize the way you speak to yourself.

You get to choose how brightly to shine

Some people experience hardship and shine brighter in defiance of it. Others let the swirling darkness consume them to the point where they snuff out not just their own light but everyone around them too.

Which describes you?

If you continually bring your bad days home, one day in the not-so-distant future, you’ll open the door to an empty house.

Putting this into practice:

  • If you’re feeling low and you know you’re about to be in the company of others, pause for a moment and consider how you want them to feel coming out of an interaction with you.

  • Do you want your loved ones to feel like they’re walking on eggshells, afraid to set off your temper? Do you want them to feel dismissed or uneasy?

  • If you can’t get yourself to a state where your actions won’t invoke such emotions, it’s perfectly okay to say, “I’m having a bad day. I’m going to go sit quietly so I can process how I’m feeling. I’m not trying to ignore you, but I would appreciate you giving me that space. I’d love to chat when I’m in a better mental space.” 

  • See how taking proactive responsibility – rather than simply reacting – can have such a profound impact on your relationship with others.

“Even if it’s not your fault, it is your responsibility.”

– Terry Pratchett

The solution is already inside of you

When you’re down, it’s easy to forget that life is happening for you, not to you. You might think, “If only this one thing would happen or change, then everything would be fixed.”

But life will always have its ups and downs, and the solution will never lie outside you. Moving through challenges gracefully is about changing your perceptions on the inside, not changing your external reality.

Putting this into practice:

  • Stop waiting for something to change before you start trying to feel better. Reach for better-feeling thoughts right now.

Don’t miss the forest for the trees

When a tough situation stares you in the face, it can quickly become all you can think about.

But if you eat, sleep, and breathe your frustration, anger, and pain, you’re acting from a place of lack – a place of darkness. Instead, choose to look up and see the multitude of good that’s happening in your life too.

Putting this into practice: 

  • Identify three things you’re grateful for. No need to write them down. Just pause and think of them before reading the next section.

Let hardship make you softer

You’ve probably heard the phrase, the world hardens you. It can – and if you choose to focus on the bad stuff, it will.

But there’s a little-acknowledged silver lining to adversity – it can stir an unanticipated unity and resilience among the best of humanity. And if you choose to look for those little pockets of light among the darkness, you can grow softer and more at peace with the world and yourself as you age rather than letting time harden you.

Putting this into practice:

  • Choose to see the good in yourself and others.

If you feel uncomfortable, you’re doing it right

Understanding who you are when life gets hard isn’t feel-good work.

It requires a profound sense of courage to look in the mirror and take responsibility for yourself, your emotions, and your interactions with others. At first, you might not like what you see.

But keep with it. When given the opportunity, choose resilience over resignation, courage over fear, and optimism over despair. Little by little, you’ll take back control over how you show up for all that life throws at you.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Leaning on others when life becomes too heavy will only make you stronger. Seeking mental wellness support from a professional could be an invaluable step in helping you navigate through life’s hardships.

Life is tough, but so are you.

“Taking on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse, isn’t it? If you’re comfortable while you’re doing it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”

— Ted Lasso

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To your chronic evolution,


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