Taya Micola is a therapist and author of When Life Sucks; A Therapist’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Tough Times. Her book is aimed at helping people survive, and eventually move on, when they’re going through something they can’t control and that… well… sucks.
She starts out with the basics. If you’re stuck in a terrible situation, you probably need at least one of the following (maybe more.) Taking action on at one or more of these needs, she says, will make an immediate difference in how you feel.
If you’re going through a tough time, you probably need:
- More sleep
- More exercise
- To eat better
- To relax often and deeply
- To release tension
- More time to yourself
- Less time with yourself (if you spend that time making yourself feeling worse by ruminating on your misery)
- To think less (get out of your own head; see the bullet point above.)
She’s full of practical advice for anyone who has been through a crisis, including losing a job and the uncertainty that comes with a job search. During the course of my work as a career coach, I’ve seen many people who are so stuck on what they’re feeling (angry, sad, betrayed, or a host of other emotions) that they simply can’t move on to taking positive action. Micola says that allowing your emotional baggage to weigh you down makes it so you can’t:
- Have that
- Be that
- Do that
- Know that, or
- Live that.
Everyone has experienced pain, she writes, but the story you tell yourself about what’s happening determines how long your pain will last. Which of these three patterns is yours?
- Bad thing happens. You immediately accept it as your fate, your luck, your pattern. “It’s bad, and I’m bad.” I got fired because the boss didn’t like me. No one likes me. I’ll probably never find a good job again.
- Bad thing happens. But you don’t immediately despair, because you know you can get through this / fix this / deal with this. In other words, you’re telling yourself that you’ll be OK.
- Bad thing happens, but it’s not really about you. You see outside influences at work. “The company was obviously in trouble, so it’s not surprising they had to make changes.”
Your self-talk pattern plays a huge role in how quickly you’ll recover from a setback and how you live your life afterward. Do you tend to accept, even embrace the fact that bad things will happen to you? Do you push them off as (mostly) a function of the random universe that happened to hit you? Or do you accept the challenge of pushing through, getting stronger, and living to fight (and thrive) another day?
In a future post, I’ll offer some tools for surviving bad news.