Opinion: "it's important to view life as a balance of both short and long"

Life is short. Too many times, we are reminded of this by the loss of a loved one, illness or tragedy. But we should remember this everyday and not just in the bad times. Why should we waste our precious time worrying what others think? Wasting time worrying, which won't change the outcome? You are probably the only one judging yourself in great detail, so be kind to yourself. For those who do judge you or hurt you, you wouldn’t want them as part of your life anyway. Their opinion does not matter, it is an opinion, not a fact.

A survivor of the Hudson river plane crash said that he learnt three lessons when he faced immediate death: stop waiting to do what you want and do the things you want to do in life now; don’t waste time on negativity and doing things that don’t matter with people who don’t matter and look at each other and love more.

TED talk by Ric Elias: 3 things I learned while my plane crashed

It may sound strange, but I think it is important to view life as a balance of both short and long. Life is long, and that's great. Long enough to let us heal. Long enough to let us grow. Long enough to let us find joy again.

When bad times come upon us, we cannot see a way out. We are overwhelmed and we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. But eventually, the pain does lessen and time does soften suffering. Life is long enough to start again, to rebuild, to take more pictures, to create more memories, and to heal. But only if we allow ourselves to heal.  Time only heals if we work through it and allow ourselves to be happy again.

"We are healed of by a suffering only by experiencing it to the full."  - Marcel Proust

When you are visited by pain, let that pain bring a new perspective and new priorities, new respect and time for your body and your soul. Pain can have a purpose. It is important to be uncomfortable. Pain is permission to take care of yourself. Pain is a plea to rebalance your life. Pain is an invitation to change. What have you been neglecting? What have you learned from your pain? What can you change to make your body and mind happier and healthier?

If you can control your thoughts, you can improve your feelings, emotions and behaviour

"I know the overwhelming, cold, dark sea of pain that engulfs us all at some time. I have travelled that sea myself and with so many others. I know. But I also know that the human spirit endures. Life is long. Long enough for us to warm slowly but surely back to laughter and love. Of this we can be certain and in this we can place our faith. The sun rises no matter how dark the night. We laugh again. We enjoy our work, our family, our friends. We move on...because we know we must. Otherwise, our time here is wasted" - Steve Leder, More Beautiful than Before.

Here are 12 tips to manage your emotions in tough times:

(1) Try to accept what is in your control and do your best with that. After that, let go of what is out of your control. Worrying does not change the outcome.

(2) Be more aware of your thoughts and triggers. If you can control your thoughts, you can improve your feelings, emotions and behaviour.

(3) It is important to be present in the now. Dwelling too much in the past causes sadness and thinking too far ahead in the future causes anxiety.

(4) Acknowledge the impact of your worrying – is it doing anything for you? What is it taking away from you?

(5) It is important to focus on your mental wellness, not always mental illness, and to have coping mechanisms in place before you meet an obstacle in life.

(6) The more often that we face our fears, it gets easier each time. If I watched a scary film every day for a week, would I be as scared of it at the end of the week?

(7) You talk to yourself more than anyone in the world so make sure that you are saying the right things.

(8) Realise the importance of social connections, routine and "me time".

(9) Anger is a lot of work. Most people behave badly when wounded. If you remember the wounds, it is more possible to forget.

(10) Time is a healer – it’s always darkest before the dawn. Pain is a great teacher. Don’t come through hell empty handed.

(11) It won’t always be as bad as we think and most of our worries never even happen.

(12) If you're in pain right now, always remember that it will not always be this bad.


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ