In the past week and a half, my personal life has crumbled. I lost my grandmother and broke up with my girlfriend.
Which means that in some part, I was the cause, in another, I just had to stand there and endure. This isn’t the first time life shook my world and probably won’t be the last. Nor was I the first one to experience this.
To dig deeper into what happened will be for another time, another day. But it made me realize once more the importance of self-awareness and self-control.
After working on myself for more than a year, this tough period is demonstrating to me how I can continue my life despite rough patches.
If what happened recently occurred before I started working on myself, I would have been unable to do any kind of productive activity. My mind would have been all over the place. But that’s not the case anymore.
Sadness is overwhelming
In a way, I lost two loved ones in the span of a week. I did decide off my own will to break up with my girlfriend but not loving her anymore wasn’t the reason.
And due to the above, I lost appetite, became sleep-deprived and kept crying the majority of the time for days.
Sadness gets to you. You don’t decide whether you want to be happy or not. You just are or aren’t.
In reality, what makes sadness so difficult is this lack of control.
It overwhelms us out of the blue, no matter how much we thought we were ready for it or not.
Focus doesn’t have to last long
We tend to consider focus should be long. An uninterrupted time during which you can forget the rest and get stuff done.
But in reality, the calm mind can already have trouble staying focused for that long. So how could we hope to achieve that in tough times?
It’s actually quite simple. We shouldn’t even try.
The definition of Focus should be to concentrate for any length of time to achieve something.
So in tough times, it is important to lower expectations.
Can you concentrate on that one task for 30 minutes? 10? How about 5? A single minute? Either is good enough. As a start.
If you can only handle a minute at a time now, maybe later today you’ll be able to do 2 minutes. Tomorrow 5. At the end of the week 10–15 minutes in a row.
As long as you make progress on something, you’re on the right path. How long you do it is, after all, less important.
Now, this being said, I’m guessing you’d like to concentrate for longer than a few minutes at a time, right?
Self-awareness is the key
To be self-aware is to know yourself. If you know yourself, you can thus adapt your lifestyle accordingly.
For instance, I know I can easily let myself be overwhelmed by all kinds of feelings. I’ve have given up focus time after time due to anger taking over for the tiniest of things. But I also know that having a smoke outside while reading or watching something motivating and connected to the topic I need to focus on does the job. Having some kind of upbeat music also helps a lot.
For this reason, whenever I feel my focus waver, I can accept it, go out for a break and start over afterward.
Discovering oneself is not only a crucial aspect to get to a happy life, it is also a way to know how to put oneself on the right path when your mind wavers.
Self-control is the door handle
Even if you know what works for you, difficult periods make us want to throw it all out the door. Why should I focus on positive activities when I am extremely sad after all?
That’s where self-control comes into play. If self-awareness gives you the key, it doesn’t mean you will focus. It means you potentially could.
Yes, I can go out for a smoke and set my mind straight. But it is only self-control that allows me not to go down a rabbit’s hole while outside.
Furthermore, the more self-control you have, the more you naturally become able to focus for longer lengths of time.
Preparation changes everything
Let’s be honest. We all know we will have difficult periods to go through in our lives. From the loss of a dear person to a boss pushing you to wonder whether you’ve got anger management issues. Life is full of surprises and they’re not always all beautiful.
So get ready for those as soon as you can! No need to try to push it away. A difficult time will come whether you want it or not and you can only go through it in a positive manner if you know how to control yourself.
There are countless ways to learn how to do it so find out what works for you. My personal recommendation will always stay writing though.