Articles, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Tips

Gratitude (When NOTHING is Going Your Way)


Do you ever have one of those days, or weeks, or (sometimes) even months where it feels like nothing could get any worse? 

Believe me, I’ve been there. 

From, ON VALENTINES DAY, getting a good morning text from my boyfriend saying, in less than a week, he’s leaving the country on a months-long work trip. 

To getting rejected for a scholarship and a job I applied for (and REALLY wanted) in the same week.

To those days where I’m running late for class, it’s raining, I don’t have an umbrella, and I’m lost on campus (that’s also a true story). 

But take it from me, everything isn’t that bad. We have bad moments, but that doesn’t have to define our life, year, month, week, or even day. And the key to stopping those horrible moments even faster is gratitude.

My Tips:

1. Breathe!

Know that everything will work out and remind yourself of other instances that seemed really bad, and how, in the end, you made it through just fine.

2. Take your Ego Out!

I’m not trying to be the bad guy and diminish your personal struggle. I understand that whatever you may be facing is really hard, and I don’t want to take away from that. I just want to give some perspective here. One of my favorite lines from a TV show was in Shonda Rhimes’s Inventing Anna, when one of the main characters was having a baby and she’s in all this pain and claiming she couldn’t give birth to the baby. Her husband then tells her she’s, “not special” and that women have babies all the time (something she had told him only a few days before). And this gave her the motivation to push through the pain. I think, sometimes, it’s healthy to remind ourselves that, “We’re not special” in our hardships. It doesn’t diminish the pain, it just helps remind us we aren’t the only ones struggling or who have been in bad situations. Everybody has bad days and bad things happen to them, and nobody is immune to that.

3. Ask Yourself, “How is This Working FOR Me?”

I told you that you aren’t special when you’re having a bad day, so let me tell you something uplifting. Maybe, just maybe, your bad situation isn’t all that bad. It can mean adjustment because it wasn’t what you expected, but it might not be bad. When my boyfriend got sent to Guatemala five days after Valentines Day with less than a week heads up, I was devastated. He was going to Iraq on a work trip in May that would last five months, so it felt like a major blow when two more months were taken away from me seeing him. But then I thought, “How is this situation working for me?”. I then made a list of positives: 

    1. I have more time to devote to school work and finding a job, without any distractions.
    2. This trip is good long distance practice for when he goes to Iraq for a much longer period of time.
    3. I can spend more time with my mom who I didn’t get to see as much last summer because we were both working a lot.
    4. I can reconnect with friends I hadn’t spent as much time with after my boyfriend came into the picture.

And suddenly, I felt a little better. I didn’t feel as hopeless because I identified what was in my control and what wasn’t. Of course, I had bad days and moments where the situation was difficult emotionally, but I had reframed it into something that was overall more positive.

4.Take Time to Grieve, But Don’t Let Grief Swallow the Good

It’s okay to process your emotions and it’s very healthy to give yourself space to feel everything you’re feeling. But sometimes we let our grief overcome us to a point where we can’t enjoy the good things in our lives. Sometimes we even push those good things away. The amount of time one needs to grieve is completely dependent on the person and the situation, but eventually it’s healthy to start integrating back into normal life. Even if that means pushing yourself to do something fun, go to class, or go outside for a walk, just to let yourself be sad later. Something that goes along with this is how we interact with our friends and family. Of course, it’s good to confide in people, but there comes a point where we can accidentally start emotionally overloading our loved ones which can make you feel worse.

    1. I want to point out here that there’s a difference between confiding in people you care about and emotionally overwhelming someone. There is NOTHING wrong with sharing your feelings. Emotional overwhelm usually happens when you’ve talked about the exact same thing over and over and OVER again. An example of this is a relative I have. She was upset about a surgery she had before my mother and I went on vacation with her. She talked about the surgery the five hours it took to get there, while we were there for two days, and the five hours back. There was no room to help her because she told the same story over and over again, and she continued to make herself more and more upset as she told it. 


And those are my main tips! Gratitude can be hard to find, but sometimes we’re standing in our own way. To gain gratitude, we have to look at life through a different lens. These tips usually help me to do that, and I hope they help you do the same. Also, know that if things are really bad, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.


Skylar Summers is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She's passionate about empowering women through storytelling, writing, and creating visual media. To learn more about Skylar, visit her Instagram page @skylarsummers20 and watch her short films on her website (linked on her Instagram page)!

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