At very few times in life will all your ducks line up in a neat row. There will be stragglers. There will be ugly ones. There will be those labelled ‘Second Thoughts’ and ‘If Only’. This is a law of nature, I think. Though the sky seems cloudless and blue, in your mental landscape, these stragglers, these errant ones, exert their pull and hammer in their presence. They cause anxiety despite your fervent efforts to look away. But there’s ways you can lessen their impact, strategies you can use to put a cloak of invisibility over them.
Tried and tested tips:
- The biggest tactic is to play the Gratitude Game. I’m telling you – you better get good at this one. It’s one of the cheapest and best ones out there. What it does is to make you aware of the good in your life. So, for instance, you were rejected by this literary magazine (again) – but a reader took the time to write nice things about your latest blog post.
- Take some time to review small yet delightful things which are staring you in the face. By this I mean admiring your grandmother’s cup and saucer which you’d had forever, looking at the new crocus peeping through the snow, or even just savouring that first cup in the morning.
- When the TV people invented ‘phone-a-friend’ as a category, for once, they knew what they were doing. There are some people who were put there to provide nourishment for your soul. Call this person up. Feel the love.
- I don’t know about you but there are some books which I re-read because they give me a gift each time. For me it is usually my well-thumbed ‘Complete Works of William Shakespeare’. Whatever works for you, is good. Poetry elevates me into a place where I can usually find a measure of peace, much like a cool drink of water on a hot day.
- Rummage through your memory chest and bring out those special moments. I remember the first time I held my children, the secret looks across crowded rooms that I share with my partner, my sister and I doubling up with laughter, heartfelt hugs with my parents, New Year parties with my gang of friends.
- If you are a traveller at heart, you must have visited some places that stayed with you over the years. When I am low, I close my eyes and imagine roaming through the streets of Florence, remember touching a huge oak tree in a little park in London, and deep-breathing the ocean air in Costa Rica.
So, all is not lost even though the ducks refuse to line up. As we travel through life, our journey is peppered with the unpalatable and unpleasant. But it is our inner resilience which lights us up, making us like beacons celebrating the complexity that is life.