Beating The Roller Coaster Ride Of Life
This is the time when our Facebook feed is full of people commenting on the ups and downs of their last year. They’re telling us about the highs and lows. Roller coaster rides feature a lot. Your friends, including the ones that you’ve never met but have somehow become Facebook friends with, are summarising their last year. Perhaps you enjoy them. Perhaps you’ve seen enough of them by now. This post isn’t another one.
If truth be told, I’m guilty. I nearly posted one. I’m pretty sure I did a year ago. It’s no bad thing. Sharing is a good thing.
I’d like to think that your close friends and family know all about it already. They shared the highs with you and they were there with you through the lows, helping you get back on your feet. Of course, there are the others that aren’t quite so close that probably knew nothing about any of them, particularly the lows – we don’t tend to broadcast the lows as much as the highs.
Certainly, for me, I have a tendency to fill my Facebook feed with the good and the positive. I like to use my Facebook feed as a positivity amplification rather than a negativity downward spiral. Perhaps selfishly, I don’t like to read statuses where people talk about their bad day, their frustrations, the fact that the postman was late or that the tax man sent them a summons. I want to read about the fun, the interesting. I want my family and friends to be having fun and I try and fill my feed in a similar vein.
Perhaps it’s feeding my ego. Perhaps it’s because, deep down, I want to be liked – I think we all do. Perhaps I want people to think I’m cool, that I do fun stuff and have an exciting life. Many of my Facebook friends, the ones that I’ve met and the ones that I haven’t, probably think that’s all true for me.
Mostly, it is.
But then there are the lows. We all have them. Some more than others. I don’t tend to share mine. So most people think that my life keeps ticking at this high-octane adrenaline-fuelled level of heightened insanity. At times it certainly has. But, this year, there have been times that it certainly hasn’t been at that level – something that I’m currently battling with. That’s OK though. That’s how life rolls. We just need to recognise that, deal with it and get back on top.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- The Lows. They happen. Some are worse than others. Everyone will go through them. You’ll beat it. You have before and you will again. But, in that moment, that moment of the lowest part of that low, all you can see is the present – that tragic part of the low. Know now as you read this, as you’re outside of that rut, that it’s ok to feel that. That it won’t last forever. That you’ve been out of it before and you’ll be out of it again.
- Beating That Low. Sometimes, you just break out of it. Sometimes you need to do something to get out. Sometimes someone else needs to help you out. Sometimes it’s a combination of all of these. There are techniques to help. Here’s what I’ve learned to do:
- Work out what it is that’s keeping you down. Perhaps you’ve lost your job, your relationship is on the rocks, your life is in a crisis point. It’s normally something big. Define the problem.
- Break it down. Dwelling on that daunting dissapointment isn’t going to help anyone, especially you. So break it down into more manageable chunks. Can you update your CV, do a job search online or swallow your pride and apologise? Make the problem manageable.
- Take action. By working out the smaller chunks, at least the first one, and then taking action, you’ll feel better. You’re taking responsibility, not necessarily for the reason you’re in that rut in the first place, but for being involved in the process to get yourself out. Make it happen. Don’t dwell on whose fault it is that you’re there in the first place. Do something to get yourself out, no matter how small that task might be. Take action.
- Build. Now you’ve taken a step towards getting yourself out, build on it. What’s the next one? What action are you going to take? Take that responsibility and build on it.
- Reward yourself. After each action you’ve taken, reward yourself. Re-educate yourself that there are pleasures in life. Prove to yourself that you can be rewarded, that there are smaller highs that you can provide to yourself. It might be 5 minutes out to check Facebook for roller coaster updates or a bite of chocolate. But each reward will not only encourage you to take more action but add that exponential power to pull you back up.
- Don’t overdo it. As you start back up on your journey, the speed of your ascent can be slow. It can be fast. Whichever it is, don’t overdo it. We often don’t realise we’re taking on too much until we’ve actually taken on too much. Don’t overdo it. There’s no rush to get back on that horse, only to fall off. Take a steady pace so you can stay up there in the longer term.
- Riding That High. As you’ve eased back up there, you need to maintain your level. For some, this is easy. For others, it’s harder. Either way, if you want to stay there, it will take some work. Like walking, it takes some effort. As you get good at it you do this naturally – we don’t think about moving our legs when we walk as we’ve learned to do this sub-consciously. Staying up requires you to plan, to calculate your risks and mitigate them accordingly. That way, when the jolt happens, you’re prepared for it, you’ve already accepted it and you have a plan in place to deal with it. Any fall down you might now have is only a slight trip in comparison.
Beating The Roller Coaster Ride Of Life
The roller coaster will still happen. Some of us are more prone to drama than others. Start this year with your plan to ride the peaks of the waves, bouncing from phenomenal maverick to phenomenal maverick or from the top of the kiddies roller coaster to the top of the next kiddies role coaster, whichever one lines your path in life.
Beat that low, take action and then ride that high. Despite how the dice of life is rolled, where you finally end up is a direct result of the choices you make – decide to make the right choices, decide to take control and decide to be back on top.
Main photo by Lotus Carroll.
Disclaimer: Clearly I’m no Doctor and have no medical training in this field. If you’re depressed and struggling to get back on top of your game then you should seek professional help. However, if your life problems are less severe then you might want to consider the lessons above that I have applied in my life.