How to Cope When You Feel Like You’re Falling Behind in Life

Does everyone around you seem to have their career track figured out? Are your friends buying homes while you struggle to pay rent? Do you have this immense sense of dread that you’re falling behind in life? 

We’re social creatures, and we naturally compare ourselves to people. So while no two timelines look alike, it’s hard to feel like others have it all figured out. Here are some tips to help you cope.

Embrace What’s Working 

It’s easy to focus on the problems or what you don’t have. This is especially true if you have clearly-defined goals and haven’t yet accomplished them. But if you only pay attention to these negatives, you lose sight of all the meaningful parts of your life. 

We’re all on our own journeys, and progress doesn’t happen on a linear path. Ideally, you keep growing- day after day- and it’s important that you honor and celebrate that growth as it happens. 

Gratitude is essential when you find yourself struggling with comparison or regret. Reflect on the best parts of your life, and spend time each day intentionally celebrating the joys that you have. 

This mindset won’t necessarily fix the existential struggle. But it will help you adopt a more realistic framework for accepting yourself for where you are today. 

Determine What Needs to Change 

If you feel like you’re falling behind, it may be time to reassess how you live your life. You might assume you’re lagging when really you’re just in a bad rut. 

Novelty propels you out of your comfort zone. And when you’re out of your comfort zone, you’re forced to think creatively and be innovative. This sharpens your intuition and can help you further clarify your values in life. 

Of course, to embrace novelty, you need to actually do novel things! If that’s typically hard for you, it’s time to challenge those beliefs about security, comfort, and change. 

For example, let’s say you recognize that you’re burnt out at work and need a new job. But the thought of resigning and starting over somewhere new naturally seems daunting. You know something has to give, but the fear of movement emotionally paralyzes you.  

At this point, you normally might just abandon your effort and tell yourself to suck it up. But growth comes from making changes. If you can break down a big change into manageable steps, it feels less overwhelming. And as you accomplish each step, you feel more empowered- and that can motivate you to keep going. 

Cope When You Feel Like You’re Falling Behind in Life

Consider a Social Media Detox 

Social media can insidiously trick us into believing everyone is effortlessly gorgeous, wealthy, and abundantly happy. They also have clean homes and exciting jobs and perfectly-behaved children. 

Social media coincides with FOMO and imposter syndrome. It can also trigger this incessant sense of urgency where everyone else is ahead of you, and you need to make drastic changes right now. 

Sure, you may logically know that people distort the truth online. But that doesn’t mean you still don’t feel inadequate as you scroll through the beautiful images. 

If you continue feeling poorly about yourself, it may be time to reassess your social media habits. Maybe you need to take a full break altogether. If not, consider unfollowing people who trigger envy or anger. You should also consider cutting down on your use and spending that extra time to practice healthier self-care

Affirm Yourself Often 

How you talk to yourself can shape how you subsequently treat yourself and value your own worth. So take a moment to reflect on your personal relationship. Are you harsh and critical when you make mistakes? Or are you forgiving and willing to give yourself grace? 

If you’re frustrated with where you are in life, you might believe that shame and discipline will motivate change. Sometimes, this works in the short term. But sustainable change comes from a place of self-compassion and love. You need to believe in yourself to honor your needs for growth, and affirmations can help with this. 

Affirmations need to be authentic to be effective. In other words, if you can’t possibly imagine yourself believing what you’re saying, the statements will fall flat. They may even seem silly or condescending.

So think about reasonable ways you can ground yourself. For example, you might say:

  • I trust where I am going in life.
  • I know what I want next, and I’m in the process of going after it.
  • I am learning and growing with where I am right now.
  • I trust that I am where I need to be.

Cope When You Feel Like You’re Falling Behind

 

How Therapy Can Help When You’re Still Struggling

You may still feel disappointed with where you’re at in life. That’s okay- you’re only human. But you can feel better about your situation and improve your relationship with yourself. 

Therapy can provide a supportive healing environment to cope and challenge your negative assumptions. If you aren’t satisfied with who you are- or where you are- it’s time to talk! Contact me today to book a free consultation.  

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