Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t catch a break? Like everything and everyone in life was conspiring to keep you stuck, to shut you out, to push you down?
Perhaps you look around and you see your friends, or the people you follow online, and they all seem to have their shit together. Their lives flow. They manage to get it all done with ease and joy. Everything seems to come their way. And then they receive more.
Meanwhile, you look at your own life and wonder:
Who is sticking pins in a voodoo doll of me? And will you please stop?
Why does do I keep drawing the short stick?
Why is everyone seemingly out to get me?
Why can’t I catch a break, just once?
I remember a time years ago, in a discussion with one of my coaches about the challenge of gaining momentum in my life and business, I said:
I have plenty of momentum. It’s just going in the wrong direction.
If you’re going through this right now, here are five things to help you gain perspective, and related actionable advice to help you get out of your slump.
(1) Your Experience is Completely Normal
When you’re going through challenges, it’s easy to feel isolated and alone. We have all been in that place where it feels like we just can’t catch a break, like everyone and everything is conspiring against us, or like we cannot get momentum.
The first thing to recognize is that this is normal.
Tip: Share your experience
Find a person or a group of people to talk to about what you’re experiencing. It could be a therapist, coach, mentor, friend, or a support group. Don’t worry about whether the person can help you fix your problems. What you want is someone who knows how to hold space for you and listen with compassion. A person with a wide range of experience can affirm for you that you’re not alone.
(2) This is Natural Human Instinct
Part of the reason we feel this way is negativity bias. Negativity bias describes the human tendency to look at things through a lens of “what’s wrong.”
This is a habit of thought that we evolved with, and the intention is to keep us safe. And it does. We walk into any situation looking for the possible risks and threats so we can avoid them.
But negativity bias can also color our perception of what’s really happening. The reticular activation system is trained to see what the mind tells it to look for. In other words, you see what you seek. When we focus on what is wrong, that’s all we see. We forget to look for what is right.
Tip: Focus on what’s going well
Even when it feels like everything is going wrong, it’s unlikely that everything is failing. Pause to look for some things that are going right in your life. Find the smallest things that are going well for you. Remember: you see what you seek.
(3) Comparison is the Enemy
We do ourselves no favors when we scroll social media looking at others peoples’ lives.
Here’s the thing to remember: people lie. They may not lie consciously, but they often aren’t telling the whole truth.
It may look like someone has it all together, but that’s only what you see in their Instagram or Facebook feed. The stories you see from others are just that — stories. And all stories are lies. Stories are comprised of selected facts and a narrative that connects those facts.
One of the best things you can do for yourself when it feels like life is conspiring against you is to stop comparing yourself to others — especially to those you see online. Studies show that the more we use Facebook, the worse we feel.
Even if you know for a “fact” that your friend has all of these great things in her life, those external facts don’t necessarily tell the whole story. Some people may be living their dream life on the surface, but be filled with anxiety and fear about losing it all. Or maybe they are having success in their work, and their family life looks perfect, but they have health issues.
Tip: Stay off of social media
Stop scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. Stop looking at Pinterest. The more you engage in that fantasy that everyone else has a perfect life, the more you will feel like your life doesn’t measure up. You don’t need to take drastic measures like deleting your social media accounts or the apps from your phone. Simply stop checking them.
(4) Expectations Create Suffering
Our feeling that life is conspiring against us is often based on expectations we have about how things should be.
When life and people do not conform with our expectations of what should happen or how people should act, we may feel like we are the victims of some conspiracy to bring us down.
Here’s a simple formula:
In plain words, what this means is: when life conditions or people’s behavior doesn’t match our expectations, we are in resistance to our current experience. And all resistance is suffering.
Instead of looking at how people are not meeting your expectations, try to look at how people are trying their best.
Instead of looking at the ways in which your current life conditions are conspiring against you, try to look at how your current conditions are happening for you.
Tip: Make a gratitude list
As Tony Robbins says, “trade your expectations for appreciation.”
Look at your life and write down a list of things for which you are grateful. There is so much we take for granted until we don’t have it: access to clean, running water. Paved roads that we didn’t have to pave ourselves. Wifi. Internet access. The ability to stand on our feet and walk. Access to food. A bed to sleep in. A roof over our heads. You get the point. Make a list and notice how your tension eases.
(5) Little Things Become Big Things
Very often when we feel like life is conspiring against us, it’s not the result of any one big thing, but rather several little things that stack together. It’s the cumulative effect of that stacking that makes us feel like our momentum is rolling downhill.
When we look only at the big picture, it’s easy to feel crushed by the weight of all that is going wrong. And when we feel overwhelmed and overloaded, it’s hard to make progress in any area. You can’t airlift out of the rut; you’ve got to climb out systematically by taking one step at a time.
Tip: Divide and Conquer
Make a list of each issue or problem that is weighing you down. Rank them in order of priority to you — which feel like the biggest weights on your shoulders? Examine each on its own and attempt to find a way to resolve that issue, or let go of whatever expectation you have that is making that problem feel so daunting. Tackle one at a time, moving on to the next challenge only when you’ve resolved the current one.
Put this advice to the test and share your results in the comments. Or, if you’re stuck, send me a message and schedule a complimentary call.