“Let’s be honest, s*t is f*ked and we have to live with it,” says Mark Manson in his book and the new Netflix documentary The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
For me, it’s like a breath of fresh air infused with realism amid the noise created everywhere by this narrative that positivity is the key to happiness and a prosperous life. It encourages recognising that not all of us are extraordinary, that in life there are winners and losers. It urges the acknowledgment and acceptance of one’s own limits, pausing from the rush, confronting harsh truths about yourself, and, most importantly, developing the ability to ‘digest lemons’ instead of making lemonade – in other words, building resilience.
Life can be a mix of good and tough times, and what seems to me a more useful approach would be dealing with the hard stuff without pretending everything is always perfect. Think of life like a story full of both good and tough chapters. This story is about embracing the reality of life, knowing that not every part is a success, but finding strength in facing challenges. Come with me as I explain how accepting life’s uncertainties, staying strong in tough times, and keeping it real can make your journey a bit easier. It’s all about learning to navigate life’s ups and downs with courage and authenticity.
I have always oscillated between two extremes – avoiding pain by all means – mostly by hiding behind a positive approach to things or seeing all black and diving into the arms of depression.
“Be grateful” was by far one of my main avoidance ‘pills’; one of my predominant coping mechanisms. When I felt uncomfortable, or in a situation that I was unhappy about, the echoes of past voices would chime in: “Look at what you’ve got! What are you unhappy about? Why do you want something else? It’s not that bad. It can be worse.” Among the ‘new age’ omnipresent-recommendation – BE GRATEFUL! Gratefulness became my go-to escape from confronting my present emotions. It was easier to divert my attention from the less-than-ideal aspects of my relationship, acknowledge the unfairness in my job, or realise that my living situation was detrimental to my well-being. Why want more? Be grateful!
When I was ready to look at what I was really feeling, taking away the gratefulness, I had to admit that things were not great at all. I had to look at and stay with my feelings of sadness, hurt and frustration. Also, I had to admit to myself that this way of thinking kept me in the comfortable zone of inaction.
I am not saying that being grateful doesn’t work – it does, but when it is genuine and not used to avoid what is in front of you. The uncomfortable feelings can be signs that you need to make a change, and that whatever is in your present may not be aligned with what you want.
Everything I experience trains me to handle the unpleasant situations I face. How I respond to it makes the difference.
Do you tend to let everything affect you, or do you avoid suffering at all costs?
Do you allow yourself to go through the process – to acknowledge that something or someone has hurt you, that indeed it hurts, try to understand why, and perhaps to change the perspective from which you see yourself before taking action?
Either way, resilience is invaluable; it’s worth building it.
Tips that work for me, especially when facing challenges:
It’s okay not to feel great sometimes. Instead of pushing negative emotions aside, acknowledge them. Understanding and accepting your feelings is the first step towards finding constructive ways to cope. Allow yourself the space to experience a range of emotions without judgment.
Remind yourself of your strengths, achievements, and how you’ve overcome tough situations in the past.
Speak to yourself as you would to a friend; say things that help you – practice self-compassion.
Ensure that you have a support network: dear people who can be there for you when being alone becomes unbearable.
Get involved and support others when they need you. Nurture good relationships.
Play and discover things that bring you joy.
Choose what you give a f*ck about 😉 – prioritise what matters to you.
In the midst of life’s ups and downs, it’s crucial to recognise that none of us are perfect, and that’s perfectly okay. We don’t have to be extraordinary to confront challenges head-on. Instead, it’s about acknowledging our imperfections, embracing the journey, and understanding that facing challenges is a part of being human.
“There are only so many things we can give a f**k about, so we need to figure out which ones really matter.” – Mark Manson”