Most of the time when people come in for coaching or for a tarot reading they’re looking for help. Things aren’t going the way that they want them to, or maybe they are, but whatever transition or transformation that they’re going through is causing them suffering and sleepless nights. Sometimes even low-level dissatisfaction, if it’s constant, can really eat away at us.

How do you deal when something bad happens or if you’re caught in some form of misery that you can’t seem to shake? Here’s some suggestions:

There’s a difference between pain and suffering.

Pain is a natural response to what’s happening to us. Suffering is what we heap onto the pain by our thoughts about what’s happening to us. We don’t often even realize we’re having these thoughts unless we stop to give them a voice. How many times have you caught yourself thinking something like “That figures,” or “I knew it was too good to be true.” And that doesn’t even come close to the agonizing torture of “I don’t deserve it,” “It must be because people hate me,” and “The universe is out to get me, I just know it is.”

Life is hard enough with the ordinary pain that comes along with it. Pain is a given; no one avoids it. You have a choice of how you respond to it though, and you can make your life more difficult if you heap the suffering on top of the pain.

Find someone to talk to.

A lot of us think that it’s wrong to burden others, or that other people have bigger problems and who are we to ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with finding a friend to talk to, or hiring a coach or a therapist. Sometimes the very act of reaching out breaks the stranglehold of energy that’s keeping things the way they are.

It’s often the case too that when we reach out we discover that we’re not alone in our pain, that others have experienced the same thing. This is often the case with things like miscarriage, depression, or job loss. People don’t talk about them, and instead suffer alone when they could be sharing their pain and helping themselves and others heal more easily.

Write in your journal.

Energy needs to flow. Sometimes we remain trapped in our difficulties, whether they are small or traumatic, because the energy remains stuck in our minds and bodies.  As humans, we need a way of processing our experiences. At the very least writing regularly in your journal will get your frustrations and worries out and onto the page instead of just festering in your head. You may even find that you discover solutions you weren’t aware of.

In addition to troubleshooting and venting, you’ll be able to see right in front of you any story that you tell yourself over and over again and how it’s keeping you miserable. Sometimes the problem isn’t the thing but the story we tell about the thing. Maybe you’ll even get tired of telling it. For example, maybe losing your job isn’t as bad as the effect of you telling yourself things like “I’ll never be able to hold down a job,” or “I don’t deserve to be successful.” 

Role play a little.

It’s hard to see how difficult situations can help us grow or be to our benefit at all, but the truth is that often they do have something to offer us. Pretend you’re the situation, or a facet of it, and talk about yourself and what you are (writing in a journal is easier for this). What is your nature? Why are you there? What do you have to offer?

You can also pretend you’re telling a story that happened to someone else. Keep going, and see where the story goes. Even if you’re still the main character of the story, this can help you view yourself as the hero, not a victim of fate.

Take turtle steps.

It’s hard to imagine getting someplace good when you’re in a rut. But you don’t need to know how to get to the end point–you just need to see right in front of you, and shove yourself forward a step at a time. You also don’t know just how much of a difference a little movement can make. Often, small changes — especially the first ones — can have a huge effect on your outlook or mood, and enable you to take bigger steps later.

Most importantly, know that you only need to be able to see the next step in front of you. If you’re driving in a car at night in the fog, you may only be able to see six feet in front of you but that’s all you need. Make sure, too, that you document what you’ve accomplished. It’s easy to feel like you’re getting nowhere and forget all the progress you’ve made.