How to Avoid Your Own Mental Apocalypse

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Experiencing the highs and lows of the emotional spectrum is part of being human, and there will inevitably be times when we start to feel like the world is working against us. It will seem like for every step we take towards our goals, the trials of life knock us two steps backwards. It can feel like you’re struggling in an ocean of tribulation, trying to swim to shore while life’s current just keeps pushing you deeper into the water.

As we become adults, we quickly learn that life isn’t always going to be easy–in a2008 AP study of college students, 80 percent reported that they were already either sometimes or frequently stressed on a daily basis. Every so often, these daily stressors can accumulate in a fashion that might leave you feeling a sense of hopelessness.

Speaking from a fresh experience myself, there are many questions that may come to our minds when we are trapped within this psychological state. It has been a recent revelation of mine that reaching a point where you can address and answer the questions you ask yourself is the key to overcoming this state of mind and putting yourself back onto the more optimistic end of the spectrum.

What are the questions you ask yourself when the foundations of your life are being shaken by the metaphorical earthquakes that life sends your way? While they may differ from person to person, you are likely to wind up contemplating something similar to the following queries:

Why me?
Why now?
When will I let go of yesterday?
What is tomorrow like?
Where do I go from here?

It’s ironic that the questions we have when feeling this way often begin with the letter that is pronounced “double you”. This can be used as a symbol to represent the internal dialogue that must occur before you can move on from your predicament. It took me a long time to reach this realization, and it inspired me to create this short guide for others to harness the power of the “W” to work with, rather than against themselves.

Why me?

It might seem like a silly question, as everybody knows that they must experience hardship at one point or another. But the feeling that the world is unfairly working against you is more common than you might think. A 2012 poll by CBS News and The New York Times revealed that 51 percent of Americans said they were pessimistic about the future, compared to just 43 percent who felt optimistic. This feeling is not necessarily a bad thing–a 2013 study released by the American Psychological Association (APA) indicated that people who are pessimists may actually live longer than their glass-half-full counterparts.

But the question more often stems from the feeling that you don’t deserve the magnitude of the difficulties levied upon you, because you are a good person. This question is also framed as “what did I do to deserve this?” It can lead to a questioning of your existence, your journey to the present, and the experiences that got you there.

It’s important that you tell yourself that feeling this way doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you. It’s just another emotion that humans experience, except this one brings challenges to the table. And while these obstacles can be terrifying, they can also benefit you if you have the perseverance to overcome them. Without challenges, you would just be a boring robot trudging through the monotony of life. It’s the challenges that make your life interesting and can often lead to the greatest rewards as well.

Why now?

Life has a knack for getting complicated at some of the most inopportune stages of our life. But it can also work the opposite way. If the predicament had not come now, then it could’ve been yesterday, or last month, or maybe even tomorrow. The timing is not important– the world is going against you today, but it is bound to move with you tomorrow or sometime in the future.

So you can stop asking “why now?” and instead just accept your challenge, because you will be that much closer to vanquishing it so you can move on to the better days.

When will I let go of yesterday?

The answer to this question is simple: it’s your choice. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but it can be accomplished.

If you’ve been pining for a lost lover, you need to stop doing the things that are preventing you from continuing your healing process. That means no snooping around their Facebook, or checking their other social media websites to see what they’re up to. Science has taught us that giving up a past-lover is very much like giving up an addiction–you have to halt the thought processes that lead you to the action.

If you are thinking about a deceased loved one, then it’s all about the controlling the context of your thoughts and channeling it in a positive way. While we know that traumatic loss can lead to difficulty recalling events of the past, research by the APAsuggests that our minds cling on to specific recollections involving the lost ones we loved the most.

You must shift your thoughts into recalling only the happy memories. If you are missing your mother, then you can use those thoughts to help you become a better mother, or perhaps empower another person to be one by using the lessons your own mother taught you. If you miss a father, then you can focus your thoughts on learning from his best traits. Regardless of who you’re missing, it’s okay to maintain them in your mind as gone, but not forgotten. Imagine how happy they would be knowing you honored their memory by using it to make yourself and others lead more fulfilling lives.

What is tomorrow like?

Even the worst of days must come to an end. Look at tomorrow as an opportunity for a fresh start, and believe you can work towards making every day better than the last.

Are you stressed out about your work? In 2012, 65 percent of Americans said they believed that work was their greatest source of stress. If you agree with this, perhaps you could benefit a lot by taking a day off to improve your mental well-being. Sick days are not only to be used for physical illnesses, but to improve your mental health as well.

If your boss doesn’t believe in this, you can point them to this Business Insider articlewhich reveals that up to 82 percent of Americans have used a sick day to improve their mental health. If they are still skeptical, then direct them to studies by the American Psychological Association that show that a stressed out mind can lead to physical ailments such as headaches, stomachaches, insomnia, depression, and heart disease. Explain that if they don’t give you the day to recover, it’s likely that their refusal to grant you a day off will cause physical illnesses that could possibly pull you away from work for even longer.

If your worries are stemming from the recent complication of a friendship or relationship, use tomorrow to start a new chapter with them. Wake up the next day and send a text message to your partner/friend and just say “Good morning,” or “Have a nice day.” Don’t tweet it or Facebook it, as this becomes impersonal and cheesy.

Regardless of what’s making you afraid of tomorrow, it’s crucial that you don’t run away from it. By taking control of your own future you give yourself the greatest opportunity to realign yourself onto the path of happiness.

Where do I go from here?

While the external influences can be out of your control, the internal influence of where you go is what truly dictates your future. If outside circumstances will not allow you to go where you want to be, then consider a plan B. Luckily, there are enough letters in the English alphabet for 26 plans, and in other languages there are even more. Find a direction that will take you where your heart truly wants to be.

While I am by no means an expert in the field of psychology, my own life experiences compelled me to share my feelings on this state of mind and how others may be able to learn from it the way that I did. If I could impart any information about this to others, it would be that you need to start posing your problems as questions that must be answered. And the only way to really answer them is by taking the initiative to get complete control of your choices, decisions, and actions.

At a time when our world is experiencing war, financial crashes, conflict, and various other hardships, it is important to me that I share this. Always remember that eventually everything will be okay. People say that time heals all wounds, and this is mostly true–just make sure that you fill that time with as many positive experiences as you can, and accept any difficulties as a challenge that you are sure to overcome.