6 THINGS TO DO WHEN THINGS ARENT WORKING

Sometimes everything is just s#*t. You don’t know what to do to fix it, and the sense of being overwhelmed in hovering uncomfortably close to your psyche — round about the area where you screams are stored and you keep your biggest and best teardrops. Here are five suggestions that have worked for me at moments like that:

1. MOVE OUT OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

I don’t mean this literally, although who knows, it might work too. What I mean is that often when we are in a bad space, we find ourselves surrounded by others who are either in a bad space too, or are doing a running commentary on how bad the space we are in is. That needs to stop. Its hard enough pulling yourself out of a pit, without wrestling with others who are invested in pulling you back into the pit so you can keep them company. Also stay out of negative communities. You know which of your friends revels in stories of doom and gloom, and which ones are more upbeat. You know which bars you’re going to find people who cant stop moaning about the government, the economy or the neighbour’s dog. Stay away from them.

2. TAKE ANOTHER LOOK

At some point in my childhood I developed a reputation for being able to find things that were lost. Adults often couldn’t understand how I could see things where they had looked and seen nothing. The simple discovery I made, was that I did not only look once. I looked and kept on looking. If you cant find a solution, look again — there usually is one.

3. BREAK THE THING TO PIECES

Apart from keeping on looking, my childhood self also found that if I cut up the total area where something had to be found into small squares, then I could just focus on one square at a time instead of employing sweeping glances to try and find tiny objects. It’s the same with problems. If you have an enormous elephant of a crisis, attack it one bite at a time. After each mouthful, say nice things to yourself, and then gear up for the next one. You’re likely to make more progress this way and it also staves off that feeling of being overwhelmed.

4. PRACTICE GRATITUDE

This may seem counterintuitive if you are having a truly terrible time. You’re thinking I want less of what’s going on here, not more! But practicing gratitude will help. Itemize ten things that you are grateful for, even in the midst of calamity. Write them down, and repeat this exercise daily. It seldom happens that anyone has nothing that they are thankful for. But we find plenty that we take for granted. I never fail to thank God for my two incredible children, even when they are being naughty. I am also thankful for living in a place where divine natural beauty is almost always just outside the door. That’s not to say Zimbabwe has no problems (it really does!) But those don’t take away from the exquisite beauty of our foliage.

5. DON’T LOOK WHERE YOU FELL

In Africa we have a proverb that says, “Don’t look where you fell, but where you slipped.” In other words, the solution isn’t in the outcome, its in the cause. Look for the cause of the problem, instead of focusing on the effect.

6. TRY SOMETHING NEW

Finally, if it’s really looking like too much of a big drama, go a head and try something new. Try a solution you’ve never tried before — prayer, fasting, yoga, meditation. Try brute force if you must, or exercise or a change in diet. Try asking a child for advise (this one could really surprise you) or writing a letter to the tooth fairy. If you’ve never tried it before you may feel a little foolish. But if your problem is really that big then a little foolishness isn’t going to hurt too much, right? Just try it.

I help African businesses and individuals convert their stories into compelling brands through communication and brand strategy, one one one personal brand coaching and storytelling in print, TV, radio, digital and keynote presentations. www.thembekhumalo.com

My passion is a social enterprise that will some day connect 1 million African women artisans under one brand. www.labourofloveafrica.com