Are you coping with a difficult time in your life?
Want to learn how to write about a tough time?
What is the impact of writing about difficult times?
If you have lived any number of years, you know that life is full of ups and downs. We all experience difficult times in our lives. You may be experiencing the death of a loved one, dealing with a job loss or adjusting to a life change, such as a move or divorce. Sometimes life isn’t what you want it to be. That’s why writing about difficult times is an important part of your life story.
What Tough Times Say about You
Hard times can mean different things to different people. And coping with difficult times is never easy. But as the adage goes, that which doesn’t break you makes your stronger. Each time you endure a difficult time in your life, you build personal character. And it is this character that will carry you toward the good times to come—and give you more strength for the next time you experience a tough period in your life.
Character matters during tough times. When you are able to step back and look at a situation, you can form more rational thoughts. You’ll know that what you are feeling is temporary. Tomorrow you will feel a little better, and the day after that, and the day after that. Each time you live another day, you become one day further from the painful event and one day closer to a more positive life.
Pain is a part of life, and that pain helps you grow into a more well-rounded and mature individual who is more capable of handling the ups and downs in life. But getting through that pain is all about mindset, and it is about choice. You can choose to wallow in an extended period of grief or despair, or you can choose to allow yourself to do that for a short, or specified, time and then move ahead with your life. The important thing is to give yourself the time to work through your normal human emotions without getting too stuck in any one phase of grief or loss.
Finding Faith in Difficult Times
Surviving a difficult time is truly a choice. It is the most difficult times in our lives that truly test our faith—whether that faith is in God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, a person or people, or the world in general. We may think that we are alone in the world dealing with our problem or that no one understands what we are going through. Rest assured that someone somewhere has experienced what you are experiencing, perhaps right now.
You have a wide variety of resources available that can help you through your difficult time. Some resources are free, while others may have an expense. It’s important to choose the right resource for you. Here are a few resources to get you started.
- Support groups
- Counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapist
- Clergy member
- Faith leader
- Online resources
- Self-help books, audio tapes
- A good friend or family member
From Tough Times to Good Times
When enduring a difficult time in your life, it’s important to acknowledge and accept that you can’t control everything in your life. You can’t control the economy, which might affect your job. You can’t control another person’s health, which means they might not be with you for as long as you would have liked. And you can’t control whether or not another person loves you.
What you can control is your reaction to the situation. While it’s completely acceptable and normal to go through a grieving process for any type of loss, at some point you’ll need to point your feet forward and continue on. After all, life is for the living. We only have one life here on earth, so we need to make it count. You won’t want to end your life with regrets of wasted time and missed opportunities.
Another part of the healing process is to take inventory of the good things in your life. There is always, always something to be thankful for. So, what are you grateful for? Are you thankful for other people in your life, for someone else’s success or for your own health? Or perhaps you can start with something simple. You can be thankful for the beautiful sunrise, for the bird singing outside your window or for a funny television show that made you laugh. Taking stock of the smaller things in life can help you get through the tough times. As you move through your grief and recover, you’ll eventually discover the bigger things in life to be thankful for.
It’s also important to try and stay positive during tough times. Here are a few more stress-releasing ideas that may help you feel better, even temporarily:
- Take a walk
- Go for a run
- Exercise (get sweaty)
- Breathe slowly
- Turn up the music
- Sing a song
- Read a book
- Watch a movie
- Scream out loud (preferably in your house alone)
- Try some creative writing
- Get out in the world
- Make something
- Do a home improvement project
- Take a class or workshop
- Practice yoga
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Staying busy
Any positive activity that helps you feel less stress or changes your focus, even temporarily, is healthy. The key is not to incorporate negative behaviors that can hurt your health, your well-being or your life: gambling, overeating, not sleeping, being reckless, drinking alcohol, becoming a recluse, harming oneself, spending a lot of money, etc. There are as many bad ways to deal with stress as there are good ways. Be conscious about choosing the ways that benefit you most as a person. Writing is also a useful recover tool for stress, depression, sadness, loneliness, loss, and more.
Writing About Difficult Times
Why is writing helpful for getting through tough times? When tough times happen and we have to work our way through difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable, emotions, experts often say to write it down. You may want to try writing a personal essay. The most powerful essays are the ones that teach us something or help us to look at a situation in a different light.
Writing is a great way to release your emotions. Putting your words on paper and expressing yourself in a manner that only you need to see is a wonderful strategy to get everything out of you. Once you see your words on paper, you may be able to look at the situation from a different point of view. Perhaps if someone wronged you, you may see a reason behind their actions. Maybe you can recognize the role you may have played in your own hard time. That’s O.K. We all have life lessons to learn… some of them bigger than others.
You can’t change the past. The present is all you have left to deal with. By dwelling in the past and constantly rehashing past events, you don’t allow yourself to move forward with solutions for your life. Writing about difficult times can often be therapeutic. And some people, through expressive writing, can find a solution to their problem or a way out of their grief.
How to Write About Tough Times
Writing about tough times can help you organize your thoughts and provide an emotional release. When you sit down to write about this trying time in your life, it’s important to let yourself write freely. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or punctuation. This writing exercise is for your eyes only. You’ll never have to worry about the reader or show it to anyone else, and you may even want to destroy it after some time.
When you start writing, try to schedule a little time each day to get your thoughts on paper. It can be as little as 15 minutes a day. You can write for as long as you feel comfortable, then write more the next day.
Writing in spite of difficult times can be challenging, even for the experienced writers. It can rank right up there with writing an obituary. Writing may also be painful or awkward at first. That’s OK. You are dealing with an emotional experience, so different emotions may rise: anger, regret, sorrow—even happiness. You may find that once you write your problems on paper, they may not seem so bad. You may even be thankful for what happened because it is shaping you into a newer, stronger person.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. Keep writing, and you’ll soon find yourself on the other side of grief. If your situation is particularly traumatic or stressful, you may want to do you writing with the help of a therapist. Never feel like you have to go through something alone.
You may be feeling lots of emotions, and getting these emotions down on paper can be a great way to release them from your mind, body, and spirit. Don’t waste time and energy feeling sorry for yourself, blaming someone else or playing the victim. This takes away any position of self-empowerment and puts the power in the other person’s hands.
Write down your problems with the intent of finding a solution. List as many solutions as possible—no matter how simple or crazy. The writing process is not a time to edit or worry over specific details. There’s no judgment here. When you’re ready, assess your list of solutions. Weigh the pros and cons and decide which options you’d like to take. Remember that you won’t find perfection, just a new kind of better.
Including Difficult Times in a Memoir
When writing your life story or a personal memoir, you’ll want your writing to reflect the reality of your life. If you only write about the happy times, then your memoir will be no different than a series of social media posts that only show one side of life.
You are a fully human person who experiences all that life has to offer. So, it’s important to include all of those experiences. The people who will read your memoir will gain the most insight into how you got through the difficult times in your life. And those trying times are what provide inspiration to others. They can look at how you handled a difficult situation and apply it to something they may be experiencing now.
Writing about difficult times in your past is an important part of writing your family history. It can help you cope with the hard times you may be going through now. You may have forgotten about how you handled a situation. Your writing may bring up a memory that you can apply to your life today. Reflecting on the past can be a surprising way to gain perspective on the present. Remember, writing is always good therapy.
Your story is both unique and valuable. What have you learned from your difficult time? And what can others learn from you? Did you approach your problem in a unique way? How did your experience change you—for better or for worse? And if it changed you for the worse, did you eventually see your way past that? Did something else have to happen for you to change?
How Do You Get Over Tough Times?
There are probably as many ways to answer this question as there are stars in the sky. What works for one person may not work for another. And what worked for you in the past may not work for you in your current situation. However, there is one universal thing that will help us get over any obstacle or difficult time in our life: TIME.
Nothing lasts forever. And everything in life is just temporary—both the good times and the bad times. It’s how we choose to react to these periods in our lives and how we decide to let them mold and shape us that truly creates a story to tell.
Here are 10 steps you can take to get through your tough time.
- Acknowledge your feelings and feel the pain. You can’t get over anything by sweeping your thoughts, feelings, and emotions under the rug. Your feelings are normal. Let them out, no matter how raw they may feel.
- Talk about it. Don’t bottle up your feelings. Enlist a friend or family member to lend an ear. If someone is not available, then talk out loud or write it down.
- Try to see past the crisis in your life. Know that there are better days ahead, and it won’t feel like this forever. Think back to how you handled previous problems. Did you land on your feet? If so, how did you do it?
- Take care of yourself. Be sure that you eat healthy and get enough sleep. For some people, you may want to do a little self-improvement—perhaps a new outfit or hairstyle (nothing too drastic that you might regret).
- Consider the severity of your issue. Sometimes we can make a problem bigger than it really is. Could you be blowing things a little out of proportion? In the scheme of life, how much does it really matter?
- Accept what you cannot change. This is the mantra for Alcoholics Anonymous, but it can also be a good motto for any challenge in your life. Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t.
- Get help. You don’t have to go through your crisis alone. As discussed previously in this article, there are several resources available to you. Take advantage of every resource in your time of need.
- Seek out those people who will support you. Don’t spend time with people who help you to be negative or who are negative or demanding. Instead, choose to be around those who will make you feel happy and empowered instead of depleting and drained.
- Live in the present. Dwelling in the past or worrying about the future will do you no good. You can’t change the past and you can’t predict or control the future. All you can do right now is live for the moment.
- Do something. It’s easy to sit and stare, but it’s definitely not productive and it’s not doing you any good. Instead, choose something to do every day. Perhaps it’s tackling a simple task or taking part in an activity that gets you out of your surroundings and among other people. You’ll feel better for having done it, and you will give yourself something new to focus on.
And don’t forget to look for inspiration. It’s all around you. As an added bonus, we’re including a link to these inspirational quotes about difficult times.
Whatever you are going through, know that this too shall pass. You are not alone in your feelings and your experience. Take the time to write about it and you may encounter some surprises along the way.