How Do You Keep Going When Everything Is Crashing Down Around You?

I did a radio interview a few nights ago with Rollye James (what a delightful host!) and there was a question she asked me a couple of times that really got me thinking.

She had read my new book, The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living in which I outlined some of the financial problems I’d experienced. We talked about how over the course of a year, the hits just kept coming – I lost my dad, my kids’ dad, my house, my car, and my job. (I wrote about the emotional aspect of this and what to do in really dire circumstances in this PDF.)

She asked me more than once, “How did you keep going?”

And that’s a really good question. How do you survive what feels insurmountable? How do you manage when your entire life is like a row of dominos and everything is falling over, one thing after another after another?  How can you face the next day when every day seems to just bring more stress, more fear, and more worry?

It’s difficult to answer, too. We all have different things that keep us going. We have different motivations and different troubles. I can only answer for myself.

I kept going because I had to keep going.

Honestly, what else was I going to do? I had children to raise and they were going to keep needing me and a roof over their heads and school supplies and winter coats and food and a mom, regardless of whether or not I wanted to keep going. Whether I felt like I had it in me or not, I absolutely had to pull rabbits out of hats. I had to keep working as hard as I could. I had to keep analyzing my situation and changing my strategies to keep us at least somewhat afloat. Perhaps clinging to a life-preserver instead of in the boat, but afloat nonetheless with our noses just above the waterline.

You have to keep going, too.

What else is your option? You can keep going or you can give up. Those are your only two choices. And what happens when you give up? Your already terrible situation gets even worse – sometimes it could even lead to you becoming the victim of a horrific crime or even death.

So you keep going.

But that answers why, not how.

Believe things will get better.

 

I’ll admit, there were some dark times during which it felt like nothing would ever get better. There were times when every single day seemed to bring something even worse than the day before. Sometimes it felt like there was light at the end of the tunnel but it turned out that, oh, look, the freakin’ tunnel is on fire.  And then there’s still more tunnel after the fire.

But somehow, I’ve always been an optimist. It may not be a sign of sanity – I have been through some deep stuff and still always thought that things would get better and that one day, things would not be such a struggle.

As far as optimism is concerned, if you aren’t a natural optimist, it can be difficult to cultivate that character trait. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It’s a pattern, not something that is in your DNA. Both optimism and pessimism are habits, and habits can be changed. This article on Psychology Today has some great advice about becoming a more optimistic person.

Don’t underestimate the importance of hope and optimism in these situations. If you believe that things will get better, then you are in the mindset to seize any opportunities to make things better. Alternatively, if you believe your life can never change, you’ve pretty much doomed yourself to the certainty that it won’t and you may not even recognize those opportunities if they walk up and tap you on the shoulder.

I can tell you from experience that all those doors which slammed shut on me during that two-year period directed me toward a different life – one that was much better. I started following my dreams because I had nothing left to lose. At the age of 42, the life I’d always dreamed of (being a writer) began on the ashes of the life I’d worked so hard to build. You may look back one day on this difficult period of time and say, “Yeah, when I thought everything was going wrote? That was when it all began to go right.”

Focus on gratitude.

One thing that can help is focusing on gratitude. Think about the things you do have as opposed to the things that you don’t have.

Moving to a smaller place? Be thankful for a cozy home and a roof over your head.

Eating beans and rice? Be glad you have the makings of a substantial meal.

Be glad you can figure out a way to repair broken things, be grateful that you encountered a kind person, and be thankful that you and your family members are all together. Spend more time on the positives in your life instead of the negatives. The place where you focus more of your attention is the place where you’ll focus more of your energy.

And don’t just make it about bigger, life-sustaining things. Find joy in a sunset, happiness in hearing children playing at the park, and peace by a bubbling stream. Really enjoy that first sip of coffee in the morning right down to your soul. The saying about enjoying the little things seems trite, but it will make you a much happier person.

Gratitude won’t solve your problems but it’s a great starting point for getting your head in the right place.

Recognize that things are going to be different.

If you get mired into trying to make everything like it used to be, you’re probably setting yourself up for failure. What you’re going through will change you. Regardless of whether or not your finances turn around, you are going through a period of growth when things are difficult. You won’t be the same person after this. You’ll look at money, possessions, and the people around you differently.

Trying to recapture your old life may be an exercise in futility. While you were struggling the rest of the world did not stand still waiting for you to get your poop together.

I’ll never forget a few years after our crisis when my old home went up for sale. I eagerly went to the MLS listing to see the interior of my beautiful home, the stairway I’d refinished, the walls I’d meticulously painted, the tile I had installed.

It was all gone.

The new owners had ripped out the beautiful antique staircase and put in some modern monstrosity. They’d removed the wall where our piano had stood and done an open concept with more modern monstrosity railing behind it. They’d replaced my tile with something utilitarian and boring. They’d painted over my carefully selected wall colors. They’d chopped down the Rose of Sharon trees that shaded the back patio every summer.

It was devastating to see.

But it was an important reminder that when your old life is gone, it’s gone. You cannot recreate it. But you can move on to new adventures and new opportunities. You can’t face the future if you’re seeking the past.

You can do this. You have no option but to do this.

If you are going through an extremely difficult time, please know that you’re not alone. Many people are having problems due to current events.

The best way I can describe the chaos is this:

It’s like an avalanche – once it starts it just keeps picking up speed and carrying away everything in its path. The only things you can do to survive are to try to grab onto something solid to stop your downward trajectory, try to stay on top of the falling debris, make an air pocket with your arm, and then dig your way out. It’s not easy but that’s survival.

Difficult times are very similar. Just keep going forward, because one day, you’ll look around and say, “Hey, I didn’t even realize this happened, but I made it. I survived the most difficult period of time in my life so far.”

You can do this.

 

How Do You Keep Going When Everything Is Crashing Down Around You?
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of TheOrganicPrepper.com, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

19 thoughts on “How Do You Keep Going When Everything Is Crashing Down Around You?”

  1. Kellie Alexander

    I lost my son to suicide in 2008 and I definitely learned much about how to continue living when that seemed like the last thing I wanted to do. If you ever want to discuss it in detail, I’d love to chat about it.

    ❤️ Kellie

  2. God bless and protect you Daisy..and thank you so much for sharing your ideas and experience with us..! We can all learn..as Churchill said..”when you are going through HELL,,,keep going !”.

  3. I just keep my eyes on what’s next and thank God that I have the inner strength to carry on, actually the blessing of figuring out how best to carry on. My belief in God’s grace and mercy comforts me immeasurably.

  4. I have been unemployed for six months. Thankfully, starting a new job this Wednesday. From age 18 to 25, I served in the United States Marine Corps. That time prepared me for the current world scenario and everything else up to this point; I just didn’t know it then.
    Thirty years ago it was embrace the suck coupled a wife and infant son. I worked every temporary sh*t job that came my way and many more through the years in supposedly prestigious places with people that were less than hospitable. I could not feel overwhelmed, didn’t have time and I kept putting one foot in front of the other and kept trudging forward. Fast forward to the current, same wife but now two sons, both grown and gone. So, it’s just us two and the dog (still worry about the lads, but they can hold their own). Wife is also frugal, an awesome cook and keeps me grounded.
    I will stay where I am and hold my own, don’t have a bunker to go to or a secret island somewhere. When I hit the rack at night, I tell myself, “there’s always tomorrow.” Someday the Reaper will show up and tell me I have done enough.

  5. I’ve had several through my life. I’ve never said I quit. I’ve always set to prove my nay sayers and obstacles wrong. Like you said, what choice did I have?

  6. My life had to somehow restart after a surprise divorce after nearly 45 years and six fine sons. I thank God for prayer and the strength to survive. Now I am happy and healthy. Long live the republic!

  7. This really resonates with me!
    For years I was flat broke and survived. I survived defaulting on plastic in 2008 and have had zero debt since. I have been bankrupt once. I have lived off soup kitchens, scavenging and food pantries. Been there, done that.
    Even if I have $5 in my pocket, I remember I am richer than 75% of the world because I have zero debt.
    As I wrote in 2008, if the wolf is at the door, you let him in and eat with him at the table. The wolf is a teacher.

    1. jw in the thunder

      I really like that… ” if the wolf is at the door, you let him in and eat with him at the table. The wolf is a teacher”.

    2. At the door? i thought you were going to say “you let him in and eat him.” I don`t
      understand breaking bread with the wolf. I think I`ve lost something you still have

  8. I have had the opportunity to go through some very difficult times in my life including a house fire my husband suffering two serious back injuries and an autoimmune disease.and my oldest son taking his life 2 years ago.My mantra is adapt, adjust and overcome. You just do your best to adjust and adapt to the new reality you must live in. When you get through it, you’ve overcome. You’ll have a new understanding and hopefully compassion for others as they too struggle. Looking for what I call the “tender mercies” helps. Even in the hardest times there are these. A beautiful sunrise, a call or card from a friend, a special sale or markdowns, gifts, your children, etc. We don’t have to bounce through the hard stuff. Just take the next step. Also, don’t isolate. People can help lighten the load. Also my belief that I’m God’s child and he has a plan has been a great strength to me.

  9. Daisy, I’ve had some bad times, but never as bad as you had. So I can only share what worked for me.

    Prioritize. Sometimes there are things that you can let go of, much as you don’t want to. That can free up some energy to defend the rest.

    As a retired broker,, I can tell you that many sellers moan about the changes the buyers made. Get over it! 😉 They took that puppy off your hands. You got your money, or at least out of any obligation for that house. You can’t have it both ways. 🙂

  10. I was once a squatter living in place with no running water no electricity. I worked at a bagel store and sometimes I took day old bagels home. That’s all I had to eat. It was winter in Nashville,my neighbor ran a electrical cord with a single bulb ,that was my light. Twice a week he let use his tub to bathe. Lowest point in my life. I worked hard,today I have a job,own a home stock up on food,water,everything . Thank God for everything. Good times,bad times, thank God for everything Daisy,you are an inspiration to me,words cannot express my admiration for you

  11. Daisy, you always know just the right thing to say. Your words are a balm and your advice is always solid. I appreciate everything you share, and I think it really helps a lot of folks. Your thoughtful, insightful ideas are spot on. God bless you, girl!

  12. Hi Daisy,

    I’ve been following you for several years and enjoy your posts. What started out as a good year turned to crap for me and my family a few months back when my wife of 38 years was diagnosed with lung cancer. She’s currently in a rehab hospital two hours away trying to come off a ventilator. While I try to remain positive I know at some point this may all be over. Thankfully I have great support from family, friends and even work. I push on each day hoping things will get better. Improvise, adapt and overcome. Easier said then done but what else can I do. I have to keep going no matter what. Thank you for your great advice

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