Don’t Try to Make Lemonade (out of lemons) Without Doing This First

Sometimes life really sucks. Maybe you’re going through a divorce or your child is sick or you’re sick. Basically, you’re on your hands and knees either praying or searching the floor for answers. How on earth do you deal with this pile of lemons that life handed you? You certainly don’t run out and get all the equipment to make lemonade. Hold on! First and foremost, you need to process the situation and get to a strong enough place to be able to make the gosh-darn lemonade. Here is the process that I use to recover from lemon sh*t storms (eg. ugly breakups, health challenges and/or financial crises):

1.       Don’t sugar coat it. Yes, of course, a positive attitude is necessary in life and your attitude and choices do make a difference. However, when you’re lying face down in the dirt, you certainly don’t want some Pollyanna to come along and say, “Just look at the bright side.” Clear the room of all annoyingly positive people who want you to quickly get over your “negative” feelings. Find a listener who is willing to be there while you talk about how horrible everything is. (Put a time limit on this).

2.       Take care of yourself. If you’re not able to muster the strength to cook, eat or drink fluids then call someone to take care of you. Just because you’re suffering emotionally doesn’t mean you have to drive your body to the brink of dehydration and malnourishment. Don’t forget this part: the proper nutrition will feed your brain and allow you to process your emotions. Essentially, food and water will help you heal your trauma faster. If you don’t have an appetite, drink fluids and eat soup broth. Note: feeling selfish for doing this is so 1985.

3.       Enlist a helper. When you need to get day to day things done, but you’re in the midst of an emotional upheaval, you need to ask for help. Get someone to take care of the mail, make phone calls, feed the pets, etc. Don’t let daily tasks worry or burden you—you have bigger things to deal with. Note: see note under #2.

4.       Make decisions to the best of your ability. There are times when we have to make some really hard decisions—maybe we need to figure out where to live or what to do after a job loss or what treatment would be the best for a family member. Once you have the bases covered (#1-3) you can free up some energy to make decisions. Ask yourself the hard questions, let them come up. Voice your worst case scenario or biggest fear (fears lose their power if they are brought into the light). Then close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and ask for guidance. What follows may be an insight, a gut feeling or an urge to take the next step. Follow it.

5.       Find the feel better button. Find one thing that makes you feel better—whether it’s watching silly cat videos on YouTube or reading Archie comics— and do that. It lifts your spirits without denying the gravity of the situation. Doing simple things that make you feel better opens you up to more of the feel good hormones and allows you to think more clearly. Think of it as fine tuning your inner world.

Situations that take us down are painful, horrible and traumatic. When we make it to the others side, we learn how strong we are, how loving we can be and how compassionate we are for others. I’m not saying that it’s such a wonderful thing to go through bleak times, but there is definitely an upswing. When you start to feel like making lemonade, you know that you’re through the worst of it.

Discussion: What do you do when life throws you lemons? Comment below and share with your friends!