November 1st.. and so marks the passing of a rather rough year. In 2016, November kicked off with a killer hangover brought on by recent family problems fueling my desire for a blissful little slice of oblivion. (Not this year though, haha!! Admittedly, I’m crashing from too much fizzy pop, buckets of chocolate, and sleep deprivation, but no hangover here!) The problems continued, evolved, and then had some new ones join the party. There were life changing events, and scary moments, and emotional heartache, all the stuff that leaves you feeling a bit broken.
Here’s the thing though, as I reflected on the last year with my Halloween buddy in the exact place at the exact same hour that we’d been a year ago, we notched up all the good things that had happened over 12 months. There were many, the year was abundant with good times actually. New friends were made; old friends were kept and cherished; exciting trips away were had; and there were fun nights a plenty. However our overall impression was that we had a tough year which has led me to pondering what are the factors at play in designating an easy or difficult year. Where’s the tipping point?
(First a disclaimer: we all know that it’s the individual who decides whether they’ve had it hard or not, not the circumstances. Positive thinking and gratitude is the key to everything, yada, yada, yada – I am a fully paid up member of the silver linings club. But even though I am an obnoxiously glass-is-half-full person, seeing more bright sides, sparkly unicorns and rainbows than a four year old on crack… I still let out a massive sigh and declared, “Bugger me, this was horrible. Let’s not do it again.”)
So to answer that question “what’s the tipping point?” and to give the last 12 months a firm farewell, here, in no particular order, are my ingredients for a recipe to a roughty-toughty year.
Financial woe. If you’ve got it, it tarnishes everything and makes every single task a hundred times harder. I’m actually scraping by ok this year, but it’s worth a mention.
Ill health. Humans, when they’re sick and in pain, they’re grumpy as hell.
Feeling stuck. Have you woken up recently and thought, “Oh my god, do I have to go through this all over gain today?” Does your life feel like you’re stuck in Groundhog Day? Do you look at it and think, “How do I even begin to change it? And what do I want to change it to?” It’s not a barrel of laughs and it goes hand in hand with the next one.
A lack of achievement & missed opportunities. You know that sense of self dissatisfaction you have when you intend to do productive things but you end up spending all day in your PJs watching TV and eating dubious food stuffs straight from the tub? It’s a suffocating sense of wasted time and regret, right? Yeah, we all know that one.
Life and death issues. People you love in dire straits? Suddenly finding yourself facing your own mortality? Not sure how it’s going to turn out, and not being able to breathe when you consider the worst outcome? Yep. That’ll do it, that’ll mess up your capacity for joy.
Failing relationships. Simple enough, when something goes sour with someone you love, be it a partner, family member, friend, your heart breaks. The more you love them the more it hurts. It piggybacks off…
..Longing for human connection. Loneliness sucks. It brings on depression super quickly, and it diminishes the worth of every good experience you have.
Fear. Not the ever present fear that all your other woes will come to fruition, that’s just a free cherry on the cake. This is a yummy new fear, the one that stops you from going after want you want, from making changes that will make you happier, it is the little voice that whispers to you, “What’s the point? You’ll be rejected. You won’t manage it.” It is the fear of that accompanies longing for something so badly, you’re too afraid to try in case you fail. The reward for this, is the knowledge that your snarky teacher who wrote upon your report card: “has potential… not living up to it. Would do better if tried harder… or at all.” was right. Ugh.
And lastly… neurological evolution. As a happy little by-product of the human desire to survive, we’ve also been blessed with a memory that is designed to hold on more tightly to negative memories than positive ones. So when the good times happen, our brains like to shove them to one side and focus on the bad ones. Nice huh?