Step one: Put down the phone.
2. "Their opinion means nothing to me."
The more conversations I have with fellow millennials, the more I realize we’re all going through similar growing pains. Professionally, we’re often struggling either to find our niche or to advance in the careers we’ve settled on. Socially, our friendships are in flux, with people constantly moving around and revising their values. And romantically, many of us still have nothing to report while we watch one friend after another pair up.
To stay sane as I meet the challenges that my friends and I have been facing over the past few years, I’ve developed a repertoire of mantras. Here are a few things I tell myself on a regular basis that might help you as well.
1. "I made a good decision."
As we're faced with more and more decisions, it's sometimes impossible to know which ones will have the best outcomes. Since most of us are not psychic, all we can do is make an educated guess. It's important to feel good about ourselves simply for making smart, thoughtful decisions rather than obsessing over whether we made the best ones possible.
2. "Their opinion means nothing to me."
As we’re exposed to all different types of people at work and in social settings, we hear a lot of opinions about ourselves that may not have much basis in reality. Tuning out opinions that are uninformed or ill-intentioned can be a challenge. This mantra reminds me to only listen to the opinions of the people I trust.
3. "They love me, even if they don't show it."
Whether we’re dealing with parents who speak to us in an overly critical manner, friends who can't be there for us because of their own problems, or exes who weren't able to make the relationship work, it can help to remind ourselves that we're still loved and worthy of love and that other people’s actions aren’t usually about us.
4. “What do I think of them?”
A friend once gave me this advice regarding my love life: “Instead of asking whether someone likes you or why they don’t like you, ask yourself if you even like them.” I’ve been surprised by how often I ask myself this question about someone I think I like and the answer is, “meh.” Asking this question has probably saved me rejections — because I’m now more often the first to notice when someone’s not right for me — as well as prevented me from getting into relationships and friendships just because the other person wants to.
5. “One day, you’ll wonder why you worried about this.”
I’ve wasted a lot of my 20s worrying about stupid things, as well as less stupid things: “Will deciding not to take this class hurt my career?” “How do I know which health insurance plan to enroll in?” “What if I get a job offer in another state after signing this lease?” Looking back, none of these thoughts were helpful because everything turned out just fine and probably would have even if I made different choices. It helps me now to remember that most of my fears can be filed under “needless worries.”
6. “It doesn’t make a difference.”
Speaking of decisions, we like to think all our choices will have a huge impact because that means we have control over our lives. But often, they won’t. Small choices like which weekend you’ll spend visiting out-of-town friends, whether or not you’ll go to a party, or which of two similar apartments you’ll live in probably will not affect how happy you are weeks, months, or years down the road. Or maybe they will, but not in a way you could possibly predict. My decisions stress me out less when I accept that many of them really are a toss-up.
7. “No is always an acceptable answer.”
I wish I had internalized this piece of advice sooner instead of feeling pressure to engage in activities I felt no excitement about. The truth us, you never have to meet up with anyone you don’t feel like seeing, stick around on a date that isn’t going well, or take on a work assignment that will totally overwhelm you. There may be consequences to saying no, but if other people give you a hard time about protecting your time and well being, that is their problem, not yours.
8. “Tomorrow will be different.”
I’ve stopped saying “tomorrow will be better,” because who on Earth knows what will happen tomorrow? However, what’s guaranteed (and what Yoga Jones from Orange is the New Black taught us) is that everything is temporary. Your shitty mood will not last. It’ll probably get better...or it might get worse, but then it will get better. Either way, your life will change tomorrow. And that’s something to look forward to.