How to compartmentalize and get centered during a rough time.
July 6, 2009 6:11 PM   Subscribe

How to compartmentalize and get centered during a rough time.

I've had a rough year in many small ways. The two previous years I lived abroad in a country I love and where I have a lot of friends, but my visa expired. I moved back to my home country and to a new city, and while nothing's 'bad,' it's been difficult: I live in a terrible apartment that is literally falling apart (today the garbage disposal and doorknob both broke!), and which has been infiltrated by every imaginable pest, with roommates who refuse to deal with any of it and refuse to call our landlord, who yells at us (well, me, since the other two won't call) whenever we have an issue. I'm looking for a new place to live, which is good, but that process has also been stressful.

I work in a job I don't care for, and I don't make much money at all. Like everybody, I guess, I like a few of my coworkers while a few of them get on my last nerve. I'm applying for grad schools in the fall for the following year, and while I'm working on grad school applications I don't see much point in wasting time trying to find another job too, especially in this economy.

I had a falling out with my best friend in January, and around April we sort-of mended it, but we're basically out-of-touch, which makes me incredibly sad -- but at the same time, every effort to get back in touch has come from me and he hasn't met me halfway. I've found myself reevaluating many of my friendships, and not really wanting to be around many people I used to be friends with.

My problem isn't so much that I'm sad, or upset, though I am sometimes. More than that, though, I get so frustrated -- with my friends, my roommates, my coworkers. I lay down at night to sleep and my head is just buzzing with all of the little annoyances of the day, all of the problems that I end up dealing with because people who won't seem to live up to their responsibilities, whether my coworkers or my roommates. The problem is that I feel so overwhelmed and frustrated with everybody that even little things that I know wouldn't have bothered me that much in the past become extremely frustrating and annoying.

I know if I read this post I'd immediately think 'therapy.' I've gone to therapy in the past and found it helpful, and I'm looking into it now - money is an issue, but I'm trying to find something that will work.

But my question right now isn't about therapy, I'm specifically looking for any coping mechanisms or strategies you've found work for you to be able to set these frustrations out of your mind, or to at least compartmentalize, or just find some way to get centered and find some sort of peace. I'm not sleeping well and I just really need to be able to set my mind to rest.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Accept reality. What's frustrating you is your "other people should..." internal dialogues. Re-examine your expectations of others for a start - they aren't on this planet to live for your happiness. But also look at whether there are people who you've out-grown, and start putting yourself in less situations that clash with who you are and what you want in your life now.

Frustration is a very powerful thing, but it's usually self-created - so take a look at your own part in creating or allowing it, because YOU control who you're friends with, where you live, whether you take a certain job, etc. If you want to be less frustrated, make different choices.
posted by Lolie at 6:32 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Whenever I start taking the world or my life too seriously I remember the sage advice of George Carlin: "when you're born you are given a ticket to the freak show, enjoy the show don't take it seriously". Life is nothing more than all of us running in a circle until we run out of breath. Now you can see it as such and it can depress you or you can try to see it with wonder and amazement as if you were still an innocent child. You see, your circumstance may seem miserable to you but I have searched out authors, painters, songwriters and movie makers who have been in your same situation and from it created brilliant art. I bet many of them, now that they are rich and have everything they want, look back on those days of fear and uncertainty with fondness. Live life less as a big picture and more as a series of endless snapshots - some good, some bad - but all interesting in some respect.
posted by any major dude at 7:11 PM on July 6, 2009 [5 favorites]

Journal or blog about it, perhaps? That might help get it out of your system. At least you'd be converting the frustration to something creative. When all else fails, repeat after me: "And this too shall pass."
posted by carmicha at 7:12 PM on July 6, 2009

Take control of one thing that is within your power. I don't know what that might be: look for new employment, set an exercise goal, try out a new hobby, make one new friend, fix something in your apartment. There is a tone of helplessness in your post, and while we can't control everything in your life, you can control certain things.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:13 PM on July 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

You're at a crossroads, a transition in life. Finished college, living on your own but in temporary digs, growing apart from old friends, unsure where you're going to be a year from now, rootless. This time period in life is like puberty --- people go through it at different speeds and with differing amounts of grace, and there's a lot of drama that goes along with the changes. Your priorities are changing (you want to live in a nicer, cleaner environment than your roommates do), and your absolute closest friends may end up as no more than facebook contacts over time.

It happens to everyone [generalization] but for what it's worth, it's temporary. You're going to end up in an academic program that suits you, and in a series of jobs that suit you as well. So relax as best you can, knowing that the future brings with it more tethers and increased responsibility, and you have more freedom right now than you probably will again.
posted by headnsouth at 7:40 PM on July 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

All of the above comments offer something useful. I'd add that spending some time practicing mindfulness awareness meditation was helpful for me, along with books and talks by the likes of Alan Watts. Also The Four Agreements.
posted by dirm at 8:30 PM on July 6, 2009

This book helped me a lot when I went through a period where my boyfriend dumped me, I was partially estranged from my family and my roommate/best friend kicked me out of our apartment. The ideas of mindfulness and learning to accept bad times and feelings as well as good ones really made a big difference.

I find routines very helpful during rough times, as well, especially routines that make me happy, like curling up with a cup of tea and a good book or sitting in a park or whatever.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:56 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

You're multitasking. Unitask. Look at one problem, relatively ignore the other ones (not only ignore it from a 'to-do' perspective but ignore it in terms of 'don't get upset'), and fix it or improve it to the best of your ability. Then, go to the next one. Half the reason why (to me it appears) you're getting upset is because you're looking at all of your problems as "my screwed-up life at the moment" and being overwhelmed. Split things up into manageable chunks. If you're not sure how to approach doing that, go to your local public library and borrow Getting Things Done, by David Allen.
posted by WCityMike at 7:04 AM on July 7, 2009

Take some time off and go camping or to a cottage for at least 3 days. If you don't have gear, rent it from an outfitter. Getting away from things puts them back into perspective I find.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 10:42 AM on July 7, 2009

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