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What to Do When You Feel Like You Just Can't Catch a Break

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I am a mother with a degree in zoology/pre-medicine. I like to write about traveling, science, and frugal living.

"I feel like I can't catch a break!" How to overcome this feeling.

"I feel like I can't catch a break!" How to overcome this feeling.

Why Can’t I Catch a Break?

Do you ever have times in your life when things continuously go wrong, and it's just one thing after another? You leave the store and discover you have a flat tire. When you finally get the donut on and arrive home, you find a message from your child's teacher requesting a meeting because your child is behind in class. A day later, you come home to find your dog lying on the floor, too sick to move. A couple of days later, you get notified that you're getting laid off. You start getting inundated with thoughts like, "When does it all end?" and "Why is this happening to me?" The good news is there are things you can do to get through the rough patches, and it happens to all of us at one time or another.

Heed the Wisdom of the Sufi Poets

The ancient Persian Sufi poets once said, "And this too shall pass," and they were right. If you're in the middle of a bad stretch, this advice may seem meaningless, but think of time as a pendulum. One end of the pendulum represents all the good things life has to offer, and the other end represents the bad. One certainty about life is change. The pendulum must swing from one end to the other. When it seems like it's stuck at the bad end, it often feels like things will never get better. Remember that it will swing to the other end, and "this, too, shall pass." Hang in there because the bad doesn't last forever, even though it might seem like it will.

Watch Your Negative Thinking

Some people believe that our thoughts are what create the events in our lives, and like attracts like. The theory is that if most of your thinking is full of negative thoughts, you will attract more negativity into your life, while if you think positively, you attract more positivity. I've always found this theory interesting and often wondered how much, if any, truth exists in it.

Last January, I had just finished a two-week paid vacation from work. I didn't want to go back to work, and I spent a large portion of my two-week vacation saying to myself, "I don't want to go back to work!". My dread tainted the two-week vacation I was supposed to be enjoying. The day came to go back to work, and as I was driving to work, I hit a patch of ice directly in front of the front gate of my place of employment. The car spun in a complete circle twice and slammed into a pole on the side of the road. I got hurt and had to take an ambulance ride to the hospital. My car ended up being totaled beyond repair, and I was unable to go to work for a week and a half due to my injuries. I thought about the theory about how thoughts create reality, and I often wondered if my thoughts had somehow created this event. Coincidence? Maybe. Proof that the theory is true? Possibly. Take a look at your own life. Have you had a lot of negative thoughts about an event, only to experience a negative outcome related to the event?

Watch Your Focus

Even when your life is inundated with negative experiences, there are positive ones happening as well. Sometimes we focus on the negative and forget to notice the small positives that occur along the way. Even though the bills are overdue, the car is broke, your child's sick, and you forgot your doctor's appointment, take time to think about the things that are going right. Maybe you haven't noticed that your friend took the time to call and ask about you last night or that you still have a job today and can earn some money. It's easy to get hung up on the negative things and forget to take time to be thankful for the small thinks that make life good.

Remember That You're Still in Control

Sometimes it feels like too many things are happening to us, and it's all out of our own control. The fact is, you are still in control of your life. Take a step back and look at the long-term. Look back a few years and see how far you've come in that time. Aren't there things you're handling better today than you did a few years ago? Look forward a few years and see yourself improve from where you are today. You still have control over your life, even though it may not seem that way when you're stuck in a funk. The actions you take today make the consequences you get tomorrow, so be proactive and take positive steps toward a better future, even if it seems like nothing's going right today. Don't forget to stop and ask yourself, "What can I do in this situation?"

Remember It Happens to Other People

Sometimes when we look at our string of bad luck, it seems like we have it worse than everybody else, and everyone else seems to be getting an easy ride. The fact is, we are more emotionally attached and dissolved in our own problems. Other people may be having just as hard a time as you, but maybe they haven't talked about it, so you just don't know about it. Some people think that expressing their troubles is just a form of complaining and would rather not engage in that behavior, so they keep a stiff upper lip and tuck their problems deep inside. It's important to remember that life isn't targeting you unfairly while leaving everyone else alone. Step outside yourself and connect deeply with others. You may find out that you have it good!

Eliminate Your "Shoulds"

Part of what makes a string of bad luck seem worse than it really is are the "shoulds" that we tell ourselves. "My car should always work perfectly," "I should have no money problems," and "My child shouldn't be misbehaving in school" are some of the thoughts that might frequently run through your mind. Who said that life should always be an easy, pain-free ride? What kind of life would it be if it always ran smoothly with no bumps in the road? It would probably be a not-so-interesting life with little opportunity for growth. As painful as misfortunes are, they do provide us with opportunities with personal reflection and growth, so be thankful. Focus less on what "should" be and more on what you can do about it, instead.

Think About What You Can Learn From This Situation

In school, we get a lesson first; then we take a test. In life, we often get a test first, then learn the lesson later. One of the best ways to get through a difficult situation is to sit down and look at the big picture surrounding the negative events that are occurring. What can you learn from this? Should you learn to be more proactive to prevent something from happening in the future? Can you learn some new emotional techniques for dealing with stress? Can you better figure out who your true friends are now? There are lessons to be learned every step of the way if you're willing to sit back, think, and learn something new.

Find Someone Supportive to Talk To

When we're inundated with bad experiences, we tend to ruminate on them and they grow into a huge snowball tucked deep inside. Sometimes when we talk about our issues with a supportive person, the snowball starts to melt and we gain a clearer perspective on things. Talking takes some of the powerful sting out of the events that are eating us up. Call up a good friend or talk to your spouse about the events that are causing you grief. Getting it out of your head can do a lot to help ease the pain, and who knows - maybe two heads are better than one at coming up with creative solutions! At the very least, it helps to share the load.

If you have kids, include them in your de-stressing routines: 35 Fun Stress-Relief Activities to Do With Your Kids

If You're Overwhelmed, Take a Break

Sometimes it's more productive to step back and take a break. Remove yourself from the situation for a short while to clear your head and gain a better perspective. If you can't take a few days off to get away, sequester yourself in the bathroom, put on some soothing music, turn off the phone and TV, light some candles, fill yourself a nice bubble bath, get it, sit back and relax. Try some deep breathing exercises to help step back and clear your head. It's amazing what a little break can do to soothe your nerves and help you come up with creative solutions.

Step Outside to Give Yourself Advice

Sometimes it's a lot easier to give advice to someone else than it is to solve our own problems. Try this exercise to stimulate your creative problem-solving: Step outside yourself and pretend you are a trusted friend. What advice would you give to a friend in the same situation as you? How would you comfort your friend who is going through some rough times? What would you suggest they do? You'll be amazed at the new ideas that come to mind when you approach your problems in this way.


Michele (author) from OH on July 06, 2017:

Ean R - please email me. I have something to say to you but not publicly :-)

Ean R on July 06, 2017:

Interesting piece. My 'down' has been ongoing now for some 15 years with no sight of end. During this time my wife walked out and left me to bring up three children by myself, lost my business during thenbanking crisis, my Mum dropped dead, I went bankrupt, my dad dropped dead, I'm running out of money now because being a single dad forced me to be selctive about the work I could do and now that has dried up and now can't find work so am now on the verge of losing my home as I can not afford the rent. The rent went up £100 per month only yesterday. I have no friends and have not been on a single date since my wife left as I have nothing to offer so no point in it. Can't find many positives I'm afraid.

Monica Viera from Los Angeles on October 17, 2016:

Great article. I always feel this way.

Margaret Perrottet from San Antonio, FL on March 04, 2013:

Really good advice. My favorite to tell people when they are down is that nothing lasts forever. I really love your last suggestion on giving yourself advice. Sometimes you just have to step out of yourself for a bit, and get a larger perspective. Voted up, useful, interesting - and sharing!