It’s frequently said that nothing is certain in life except death and taxes, but that’s not entirely accurate. There are many events and experiences that seem to be universally encountered; including a number of hard truths that we all need to come to terms with.
We’re all aware that life comes with ups and downs; it’s probably safe to say that common struggles and unpleasant realities are not something we need reminding of; we live through them and can acknowledge how they connect to our collective human experience. However, even though there’s a familiarity about them; hard truths about life are often overlooked or not faced until we’re in the middle of trying to make sense of their impact.
It’s reasonable to relegate thinking about potential discomfort and distress to a far-off corner of our subconscious. We get it; shit happens. Why spend time going over something that reminds us of the difficulties and negativity we’re likely to come up against? But I think we all know that ignoring something doesn’t make it go away. Preparation embraces the possibility of reducing the stress and/or disruption that life’s hard truths lay at our feet. If something can alleviate distress, struggle and pain, it’s worth exploring. Hard truths and the situations they create and/or exist in will not magically disappear when we do the inner work needed to support our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being; but it may strengthen our recovery.
Here’s some hard truths about life and how to deal with them:
Every Now And Then, Life Sucks | That may not sound like the most eloquent way of phrasing it, but it’s inevitable that we’ll periodically experience temporary setbacks, struggles and burdens. Feeling frustrated, dejected or strained during these times is natural; we’ve just got to make sure we don’t stay labouring under the weight of negative emotions. By prioritizing things like regular self-care activities, using mood boosting morning affirmations, seeking out supportive people and/or focusing on what is going well (make a list); we can remain motivated when life becomes a bit lousy.
Bad Things Are Going To Happen | It doesn’t matter who we are or how much good we put out into the universe; we’re all going to encounter situations, events and/or people that bring trauma and pain into our lives. It’s unavoidable … but it’s also survivable. Self-care is critical at these moments alongside leaning on loved ones for support and seeking out specialised assistance (there are some helplines included at the end of this article). We must also hold on to the fact that many more good times are on the way; things do get better.
Not Everyone Is Going To Like You | There may be a myriad of reasons as to why this happens; we could be causing the issue; those who dislike us may be the problem, or it could be any number of other explanations. Regardless of what rationale is behind it; it’s okay that we’re not everyone’s favourite person. Making amends might represent appropriate action to initiate, but depending on the person/situation, it’s equally justifiable not to work towards that.
You’re Not Always A Good Person | Most people are kind, considerate, decent and loving individuals; we’re definitely reflected in this truth. But nobody is purely altruistic 100 percent of the time. To accurately see ourselves, we have to acknowledge all of our nuanced traits; both good and bad. Wanting to do better requires us to know better; therefore unravelling what motivates and provides meaning to our lives will encourage recognition of what’s driving our choices and behaviours — particularly towards others.
Spending time identifying our contradictions and hypocrisies will make us aware of when/how/why — and against who — we use our more negative attributes. We can be encouraging yet judgemental, positive yet pessimistic or inclusive yet biased, for example. Don’t be afraid to get uncomfortable; we can’t fix what we can’t see.
No motive is pure. No one is good or bad — but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away. | Carrie Fisher
Intention Does Not Outweigh Impact | We may not mean to cause someone distress or harm; that can typically be understood by most people, but if our words or actions become impactful in a negative way, we cannot isolate intention from consequence. Taking responsibility can involve acknowledging our motivations but we have to focus on how perceptions and outcomes are not experienced in the same way. Defending our intentions doesn’t hold space for growth or healing; it’s on us to listen, learn and do better in the future.
Life Doesn’t Begin After Achieving Specific Milestones | Working towards successes and meeting goals can represent an essential way to provide our lives with meaning and joy; but being able to experience and create moments of happiness doesn’t depend on reaching certain achievements. We embody value and purpose right now; our existence is happening right now. We shouldn’t put off living or get stuck with a belief that life will only improve or be worth something after we’ve completed x, y, z. An abundant life isn’t something we can wedge between progress and accomplishment; it’s a constant throughout all our experiences — we may as well embrace every part of it.
We’re All Racist | How that manifests and to what degree will be different for everyone; racism isn’t always about raging, torch wielding, hate-filled supremacists. Some of us unwittingly uphold racism’s tropes and prejudices because we’re influenced by subconscious racial stereotypes and implicit bias. Becoming aware of this is a complex undertaking, especially as it requires us to perceive something in ourselves that we don’t like to admit is there. If we’re willing to carry out the work, there are numerous anti-racism books we can read, and many educators and activists we can learn from. If we’re made aware that our assumptions and actions perpetuate racism; this is exactly the time we need to engage in thoughtful, open and honest listening. It’s all too easy to get defensive and attempt to justify/prove our good intentions, but that impedes our ability to engage in critical conversations. It’s okay to get uncomfortable — in fact, it’s a must if we’re determined to tackle racism in society.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of hard truths about life (feel free to add a few more in the comments below); but they are the ones that I frequently come up against myself or see many others grappling with. Instead of being apprehensive about the lessons they teach us; facing uncomfortable realisations is all part of our personal inner work. Accepting hard truths can encourage us to live more authentically and intentionally; we may as well support ourselves as we journey through life.
What hard truths have you learned in life? What advice would you give about dealing with them?
NAMI Helpline – a free, nationwide U.S. resource that offers experienced peer-support guidance and advice
CheckPoint – global (by country) resources for mental health support