Four pieces of advice for someone who’s beaten down by life and in a tough spot

I suppose it’s time to put up a new post, but I must confess I’m a bit more nervous than usual.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a lot of new people subscribe to my blog, and quite simply, I am not used to this many people waiting to hear my words. I am not as familiar with this new crowd, and I feel added pressure to impress.

But this desire to impress conflicts with my journey toward humility, so let me begin by saying to the newcomers that I am nothing.

And while it is true that I aspire to greatness, I have not reached it.  Before I went to bed last night, I studied philosophy and a new martial arts book. When I awoke this morning, I did the same. (And, yes, I did this even though I am on vacation.)

If you came looking for some self-assured loudmouth, who spouts catchy lines and speaks deeply, with self assurance, then you have come to the wrong place.

For, as my friends will tell you, I am most certainly not that man.

I am a student. I am a disciple. And I am hungry.

Now, let us begin.

I would like to share with you an event that happened with me several months ago. A person I was coming into contact with regularly (I am purposefully being very vague to protect his identity), and who was clearly beat down, began to seek my advice on some things.

This man was in a very difficult situation. He was a cancer survivor, who continued to struggle with health problems. He had serious financial problems because his spouse couldn’t work, and his own job was in jeopardy (so far, he still has it). And worst of all, he was in his mid-50s, in a career he hated, and lacked the desire or funds to go learn a new skill.

I had a lunch with him and listened for nearly an hour. It was very trying and difficult, and I let him vent and pulled probably far more information from him than he wanted. (Hey, I’m a former reporter. I ask lots of deep questions.)

But while listening, his situation really pulled down my energy. Frankly, I just wanted to run. But that goes against my desire to “feel others’ pain as if it’s your own,” and to help others with compassion and love.

Toward the end, I steeled myself, tried to fire myself up, and humbly offered a few suggestions. ALL OF THEM were shot down, with comments such as “I know that, Stan.” And it was true, this was a very well-educated person, who had a couple decades on me.

Worst of all, by the time I tried to help, I think it had hit the person how embarrassing it was that they were seeking my help and had shared all of that. I instantly stopped suggesting things, tried to exude as much love and energy as I could, and said everything I could say to build them up.

We both left the lunch feeling pretty uncomfortable. I was completely frustrated that I’d wasted a lunch trying to help someone that “knew” too much to be helped.

But I thought on it some, and after several days, I decided I’d try to help them one more time. (Even at the risk of hurting our friendship. The person clearly needed it, and it totally depressed me to know how much pain they were in.)

So, I thought I’d share below the email I finally sent, in the hopes it might help someone on my subscriber list, as well. Perhaps you, too, are in a difficult situation or a bit beaten down by life. It’s my great hope that at least one piece of advice helps you in your own struggles.

Okay, XXXXX,

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about our conversation on Friday and the very difficult situation you find yourself in.

I’m a natural giver, and I like trying to help people, and much of what I said didn’t seem to offer much help.

Ever since we talked, I imagined if the situation was reversed, and how I would feel if I were in your shoes. And imagining that made me really search for some answers, since clearly you’re in a tough spot.

I thought I’d throw out a few suggestions, which hopefully you take the right way. One thing I need to preface my comments with is that at one point on Friday, you said, “I know all of this.” And there’s no doubt that you do, but the problem is you’re not practicing it.

And as I once heard a millionaire businessman say, “It’s not what you know, it’s what you do. You can know how to do sales, but if you don’t do them, you’re not helping my company and your knowledge has little to no value.”

So, here are a few suggestions I’d toss out.

1) Fire your friends. Or most of your friends. You’re really beat down and pessimistic right now, so whoever your friends are, they’re the wrong friends. Time to start working yourself away from them, and toward some new ones. New ones with a much more positive attitude about life, and who are far more energetic and happy.

2) Read some books. Books provide fuel. You should consider reading some self-help books on motivation and drive, and some biographies, as well. There have been people in tough situations and they found ways to persevere. (Here’s a great one I’ve read about a woman with terminal cancer, no job, no health insurance, and an inability to pay the next month’s rent.)

3) You mention not having any energy, and I can’t imagine how hard that must be. I’m just 37 and I never had cancer and I feel similarly, quite often. (Mine is due to poor eating, something I’m trying to work on.) Anyway, you’ve got to get more energy, which would also go miles toward helping your attitude, so try to find something you enjoy doing. Maybe to start, just walk two laps around the work building, both in the mornings and afternoons, even if you have to stay a little later at work.

4) You need to try to watch less TV. Watching TV, besides sucking up time, also leaves people feeling depressed afterward. It’s like a short-term drug that crushes you when you turn it off, because your mind isn’t stupid and it knows you wasted two-plus hours on something you shouldn’t have, when there are chores to do, exercise that’s needed, etc, etc.

Anyway, that’s some advice I had after chewing on it a bit. None of it sounds any fun, but we really don’t have any choice. Life is going to beat the hell out of you whether you’re prepared to fight it back or not. So, we can pick ourselves up and punch it back, or take it on the ground while we’re curled in a ball.

I think you’re a million times stronger than you give yourself credit for, and you’re just in a valley and feeling down right now.

Hopefully, some of this helps a bit. No need to answer and if I crossed the line by providing these suggestions, then I apologize in advance.

Just know I’ve got nothing but love for you and just wanted to share some encouragement. And you ought to consider that book. It has some amazing advice, and though some of it is about selling, ultimately if you’re going to be management, then you need to do a better job selling yourself. So, I think it totally applies and would make a good first book on the road to rebuilding yourself to the level — and eventually higher — that you were once on.

You’re a bad-ass, who’s just beaten down. Start rebuilding yourself one step at a time, and in no time, you’ll regain your confidence.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate you, inspire you, or make you laugh.

21 Comments

Filed under Eastern philosophy, Faith in the world, Motivation

21 responses to “Four pieces of advice for someone who’s beaten down by life and in a tough spot

  1. “You’re a bad-ass, who’s just beaten down. Start rebuilding yourself one step at a time, and in no time, you’ll regain your confidence.” Hey Bro, some of the best advice that I’ve ever heard. But, until HE realizes that, you’re wasting your breath. Now, if he’d been in the Corps, you wouldn’t have to tell him that. SF.

    Like

  2. Ric Kistler

    Semper Fi Brother!!

    Like

    • Hey Ric,

      Really appreciate the comment. And unless I’m terribly mistaken, i believe this is the first comment I’ve seen from you. I generally try to get to know my new followers, who are willing to chime in from time-to-time.

      So, if you see this and don’t care, why don’t you say a few words about yourself so I can get to know you better?

      Thanks! And Semper Fi!

      Stan

      Like

  3. “Life is going to beat the hell out of you whether you’re prepared to fight it back or not”
    That is really aces! That old thing about “life sux and then you die” should be written on too many tombstones. Life can and does suck (on occasion) but giving up is the easy way out.
    We’ve all had our butts kicked – physically or spiritually or mentally – and then we’ve had to make the decision whether to sit on our ass and let it happen or stand on up.
    Your advice to your friend was as good as can be and it now the monkey is on his back. He can either live or quit.
    Not sure if you’ve communicated with your friend after that letter, but I would say that it is now up to him to respond – to you and to life.
    Good stuff Bro!

    Like

    • Damn! Typed that without my cheaters on (just found them) and need to get out the blue pencil.

      Like

    • Thanks, OG! And you’re right, too, about getting our butts kicked spiritually and mentally (in addition to physically).

      Without question, if you’re going to avoid being average in life, there’s a lot to work on and get right.

      It’s just nice having you and Mike batting clean up on these posts, AS WELL AS help keep me from getting outside the lines and stuck in the ditch…

      Like

  4. Good advice Stan. I lost my career and goals at 23, I can’t imagine it happening in my 50s.

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  5. Great advice, Stan.

    Just FYI re point #3 IF you go to the VA and state those “symptoms” they usually hook you up with B12 shots.

    re books, my favourite biographies are those of Baruch Spinoza and Thomas Paine, similar stories, different personalities, but all crapped on by life. Spinoza’s “Ethics” is probably the best autobiography (disguised as something else), I’ve ever read.

    Both men basically instruct to live your life hinged to something greater, and if you don’t buy the Jesus story (at least according to Paul), their stories offer some solace.

    Also read Tim Ferriss’ “4-Hour Workweek”, his Lifestyle Design is worthy of contemplation.

    I have a “Viking Laws” poster hung in front of my toilet, the one that starts with “be Brave and Aggressive…” that usually starts my day on a good note.

    Like

    • Great comments!

      So, do the B12 shots actually work?

      And I may have to check out some of those book recommendations. (Have read and loved the 4-hour work week!)

      Like

      • I’ve never tried it, bro, but the 60+ yr olds at the VA talk about it like it’s crack–and it’s as easy as just listing the symptoms you’ve posted above (I’m not a big fan of injections). I just figured if that dude’s already in a tough place, might as well get some vitamin shot.

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  6. Awesome, Stan! I know it’s not easy to be around someone with that kind of energy, but good on you for trying to help. I would have done the same, one more try with an email/letter, since I write much better than I speak.

    Your points are spot-on. Firing friends is something I learned in my early twenties when I got mixed up with a bad crowd. Over the years, I have learned to evaluate my friendships on a regular basis. Is this person adding to my life or taking away from it? Simple as that. Ditch them if they’re not adding anything worthy to your time.

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment, Brit. If I’m dead honest, I’m not too good at following my own advice. I have this stupid mentality where I can’t stand it if someone is mad at me or doesn’t like me, so I usually take inane amounts of abuse.

      Thankfully, Danah is helping me rid myself of this habit, but I wish I had recognized my weakness for getting walked over and being taken for granted about twenty years ago.

      What has helped you see your “friends” so clearly? Your husband? Or maybe your meditation?

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s never easy, especially when you’ve known someone for a long time. I think you really have to create a pros and cons list for the person, as harsh as that sounds.

        Above all, think of how that person makes you feel. Do you they inspire you, do you learn from them, do you laugh together, do they make you a better person? If not, I don’t think that’s the right person for me to invest my time in. Life’s too short, and all that. 🙂

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        • Okay, great. I know that’s really surgical on measuring them up, but a pros and cons list does remove most of the emotion and history.

          One thing that drives me crazy about life is how friends sort of move on, whether it’s because of new jobs or whatever. I go out of my way to stop that from happeneing, but when the reaching out becomes almost entirely one-sided, then my weak confidence level starts eating at me and I begin to think maybe they don’t like me. And usually that’s when I stop reaching out as much and if they don’t catch on, then usually the strong bond sort of flames out.

          It’s always easy to rekindle, but that rarely seems to happen. And I think that’s part of why I try to cherish every moment with whomever I’m currently with. Change is the only constant, unfortunately… : (

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  7. Anonymous

    You are a great guy. I have seen enough of the world to know a gem when I see one. Never change! Keep being who you are. Thank you for the inspiration because. I do feel beat down and will take some of your advice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you so much for your kind words and taking the time to leave a comment!!

      You have no idea how badly I needed to hear this today! I spent a lot of time working on a video earlier this week (planning it out, recording it twice, etc), and it got very little interest.

      And since publishing it, I’ve been wondering if I’m doing nothing more than simply talking to the moon and wasting my time.

      Here’s the video link. I think it got like 15 views. lol

      Like

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