How to Shift Your Focus When Life Gets Messy

By. Danielle Husband

When you’re struggling through a day or even a month, it’s easy to find yourself staring in a straight line toward one viewpoint on the situation. A single part of your life — a job, a relationship, a hobby, a hardship, a bad decision, etc. — can seem like the cornerstone of your whole existence. You stare at the one point, trying to make the situation work for you, even if it isn’t.

Sometimes, that struggle can touch other parts of you, making you feel less valuable because you’re struggling with something that seems to be working for others. Maybe you’re about to lose your career, or you trusted the wrong person with your heart. Maybe you’re broke and not sure how you can support yourself for the time being. When these things happen, it’s hard to shift your perspective to see them as the temporary, normal stumbles that come with living.

One thing that I’ve found amusing about myself is that I tend to view others more positively than myself, even when we’re in the same situation. I expect more of myself and often believe that other people do, too. Many times, I’ve fallen into the trap of believing that I’m not valuable to my family and friends because I’m not enough for them.

You might expect me to tell you that I’ve learned not to find my value in others, so I know longer worry if I am enough. While it’s true that we need to find our own value, we also need to recognize that we are all enough and all have value. We don’t earn these attributes — we’re born with them.

When I’m struggling, I try to shift my perspective on the situation by reminding myself that my hard times are just part of the story. Here are five things that I tell myself when life gets messy.

Remember that everything in life is impermanent. Don’t cling to the pieces that don’t fit anymore, as this will only cause you pain and prevent you from moving on to something better. Don’t believe that darkness will last forever because it, too, will change. Don’t focus too hard on building what is only temporary at the expense of other important things in your life.

Realize that you are enough just as you are. We are all flawed beings, and you are just as worthy of love and acceptance as anyone else. While it’s good for us to work to improve ourselves, we don’t lack value just because we aren’t “perfect.” No one is.

Know that you don’t lose value as life gives you bumps and bruises. When you fail, you don’t lose value. You learn a lesson. When you make a mistake — even one that seriously alters your life path –, you haven’t ruined things. Life throws us around, and sometimes the best stories come out of the hard parts. Don’t think less of yourself because you’ve had more darker moments than others — you are still valuable.

Live in the moment and go with the flow. Treat your plans as a compass that guides your path rather than as a map that details your every move. Allow yourself to adapt to your plans and goals to fit who you are and what you can do at the present moment.

Collect your experiences, remembering that life is short. You have a limited number of moments in this life, so spend them well. Find the magic in the world around you, spend time with those who are special to you, and make the most out of the tough days. Focusing on enjoying your every day life will help you make the most of your time on Earth.

Each moment holds a promise. Some bring joy, while others bring pain, but they all make up this thing we call life. As hard as it is to appreciate life’s stumbles, they’re part of the total package. When you fall, remind yourself that you don’t belong in the gutter. This is only one moment among many.

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