I know that when life gets hard, it’s easy to feel discouraged. I’ve been there too—and these are a few gentle reminders for anyone who needs to hear them.
Dreams are whispers from your soul. – Unknown
It’s early evening. I’m sitting on my bedroom floor, with the windows open, listening to the faint sound of waves in the distance. I inhale the crisp autumn air, and with the change of season comes the scent of possibility.
In my heart, something is pulling.
Deep down, I know that the life I’m living is miles away from the life that’s meant for me. I start to daydream about change and what it might feel like to do something different—but first, I take a look around.
To my right sits my overflowing closet. The contents are spilling onto the floor next to me, an expansive tangle of handbags and ridiculously high heels.
To my left is my alarm clock, ticking loudly. Time passes too quickly, and I feel a momentary rise of panic as I think about the morning. Another long day is waiting for me, and the weight of my responsibilities already feels unbearable.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I notice the mirror.
I cross the room to stare at my reflection, and this is what I see staring back at me:
… A career that leaves me feeling empty.
… A marriage that doesn’t feel right.
… A mountain of debt that’s slowly drowning me.
I exhale and feel the expectations, fear, and self-doubt settle on my shoulders.
I turn off the light and get into bed, my heart heavy.
When I sat down to write this blog post, this is the woman I thought of—a younger version of myself, alone in her room, trapped by her own fears.
I know that she is not alone. I know that other women are out there, with their souls slowly suffocating, who are holding back from truly living because they’re afraid of failure and judgement.
If you’re one of these women—if like me, you’ve felt the pulling in your heart and the weight on your shoulders—then I wrote this for you.
These are lessons that, at some point, my soul needed to hear. Or perhaps, I still need to hear. I hope they speak to you as well and help you on your path forward.
Gentle Words For When Things Get Hard
I originally wrote this in 2016. Since then, life has gotten arguably harder for people all around the world. I’ve added a few updates, and hopefully, this post finds its way to anyone who needs to read it.
It’s OK not to want what everyone else wants.
Give yourself permission to chase your dreams, not everyone else’s. I know it’s scary. Other people will doubt you. They’ll tell you, “One day, you’ll regret this.”
You’ll start to doubt yourself.
But trust me—when there’s pulling in your heart, it doesn’t go away, and ignoring it will only cause you more pain in the long run.
I’ve walked away from careers, a marriage, a home and most of the ‘things’ I spent my life accumulating, and it has never been easy. But I know what feels right, and I know I’ll never regret being true to myself.
RELATED POST: How Defining My Core Values Changed My Life
It’s OK to change your mind about what you want.
I know we just established that it’s tough to be true to yourself and chase your dreams. So I understand that it’s even tougher to change your mind.
It often means starting at square one and taking three giant steps backwards when everyone else seems to be moving forward with their lives.
But remember this: trying new things means that you’re brave enough to take chances—and changing your mind means you’re wise enough to learn from the experiment.
Don’t be scared or embarrassed to change course if you notice something isn’t working for you. You weren’t ‘wasting’ your time. You were learning and growing and being perfectly human in a very imperfect world.
You are not defined by what you own or how you earn your living.
You are defined by how you make people feel, by how you treat small animals, by what makes you laugh—and by what makes you cry.
You are not defined by the shoes in your closet, the car in your garage, or the number on your paycheque.
What you “do” is what you’re passionate about—it might be your career, but it doesn’t have to be.
Don’t be limited by the labels other people give you. You are intrinsically worthy and wonderful, and you don’t have to prove this to anyone.
Anger and fear are normal emotions.
For a long time, I hated myself for feeling angry or afraid. I thought it was a sign of weakness, and I was ashamed of myself for being vulnerable.
But time has taught me that these intense emotions are not something to hide; instead, research shows that they are actually crucial to our well-being.
Anger can help us understand our priorities (after all, we often feel angry when our values have been violated) or allow us to understand our needs better. And I’ve learned that embracing fear can lead to a great adventure!
Expressing your emotions is a sign of humanity and authenticity, and there is never any shame in being yourself. Instead of suppressing emotions, try to listen and learn from them.
Related Post: 7 Things You Can Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed By Life
Something doesn’t have to last forever to be successful or valuable.
One thing I’ve heard time and time again (and occasionally thought to myself), whenever considering a career or relationship change, is, “There goes x years of my life—wasted!“
It’s a haunting thought.
But please—let’s consider a different way of thinking.
After all, what is success? What makes something valuable?
Were there beautiful mornings? Was there laughter? Did you learn something about yourself? Do you have memories that you’ll treasure forever?
I know that when life gets hard, it’s easy to want to write off our mistakes. But the truth is that the seasons of our lives will change, and they are all beautiful in their own way.
Related Post: 10 Simple Pleasures That Make Life Beautiful
Your happiness is a valid reason for wanting or doing something.
And finally—you don’t owe anyone an explanation for following your heart and doing what brings you joy.
But if you do feel obligated to respond, your happiness is reason enough. You don’t need to explain yourself any further.
You are important, your feelings are important, and your dreams are important.
Please always remember that.
Life Will Be Hard (Final Thoughts)
No matter what you do to simplify or create ease, there will always be times when life gets hard. Complex feelings and experiences are the inevitable reality of being alive.
What isn’t predetermined is how we deal with our pain, fear, and insecurities. We can either face these challenges head-on (and learn from the mistakes and the mess) or look elsewhere for relief.
In my experience, the latter is almost always short-lived. New shoes might bring momentary joy, and keeping busy will keep you numb … but eventually, we all have to face the truth of who we are.
The question is, how will we cope? Will we find the courage to make hard choices, feel our big feelings, and start over if we need to? Or will we hide what’s in our hearts, settling for a life half-lived—one that feels safe but slowly eats away at you?
These aren’t easy choices, but I hope you know that whatever you’re facing, you are not alone. The world is full of beautiful, messy people who make life worth living, and I hope this post reminds you that you are one of them.
Everyone is on a different path, and there is no one size fits all solutions. But two things that have helped me immensely over the years are simple and intentional living.
Here are a few blog posts that highlight the struggles I’ve faced and the strategies that have helped me find my way again.
- Why Your Life is Busy + Cluttered (Plus What to Do About It)
- Doing Less + A Lesson in Self-Worth
- How I Became a Minimalist: My Story of Living with Less
- What I Know About Grief + Hope (A Story About Loss)
What would you share with someone going through a hard time? Share your wise words in the comments!
42 thoughts on “When Life Gets Hard: 6 Things Your Soul Needs to Hear”
Give yourself a big hug . It is okay to be down we can learn from that but just don’t stay there to long. I found after going thru cancer treatments that resting as well as keeping busy, baking crafting kept me mindful so it took my mind away from worrying I enjoying the good baking smells and the joys of the paint colors and using the different brushes. Walking and exercising as you can helps, too.
We are all human and flawed, but we are all unique and special.
Smiles and hugs to you.
I have kept this email unopened until today when I cried in front of my 4 yo daughter because I am just really down. Thank you for this. This post is much needed for what I am feeling right now. I am hanging in there because I know this is just temporary.
Oh, Rachelle—sending big, big hugs. Take care xx
I remember reading this post 5 years ago (wow) and it helped me so much at that time! Now so many years later it’s still what I needed to hear. Knowing that moving in the right direction doesn’t always mean to go what other people would say is forward is so relieving. Thank you so much for your sharing your thoughts!
Wow, Anne—thank you for sticking with me for so long! Take care x
This is beautiful, thank you for putting it out into the world. Feeling the feelings is such an important part of building the resilience and making it through a challenge, but so much easier said than done. What advice do you have for people who struggle with accepting their feelings as valid?
This is an excellent post. So needed this
Agreed. How incredibly insightful and inspiring! Thank you! I needed this!
Isn’t it crazy that 4 years later we happened upon this post?!
Thank you so much Dear Jennifer. it is a marvelous post. I really love it
I love this post so much! There are a lot of valuable things for me. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. 🙂
Lucie | http://www.inbluebox.com
Thanks so much for reading Lucie! xo
I think fate brought me to your site. Truly needed to read this today…my life in a nutshell right now. Thanks for making my chaotic mind make sense. 🙂
Hi Dani, I’m so glad to hear this post helped you! All the best for the New Year and thank you so much for reading 🙂
I think I am going to print this out. I love it!!
Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂 Thank you for stopping by x
Thanks for your honesty. So many people feel this way, though few talk about it. It’s so important that we don’t feel alone and support each other!
Thank you Julie! It’s not always easy to talk about, but I find when my heart wants to write something I can’t help but follow. xo
Jennifer, i needed to hear this so much right now. My husband called me out of the blue to tell me he was leaving. My dad had a heart attack. I broke my arm. And now my business is on the verge of collapse. What did you do to get thru your darkest times? How did you navigate the anxiety? Thank you for your honesty!!!
Oh Ellie, my heart goes out to you! I know that sometimes it feels like all the bad things are happening at once. Probably my darkest time was 2004, when my father and younger brother passed away within a few months of each other. The way to get through it is to truly believe that things can get better. When they both died (unrelated deaths) my first thoughts were “how could my family be so unlucky?!” But then with time, I realised that sometimes things just happen … so if really bad things can happen, so can really good things. You have to just keep going and keep your heart open and ready for new opportunities.
Thank you so much Jennifer. i have been going through an extremely tough phase. i failed in a career choice that i made nd i have been quite depressed and afraid about the new choice that i need to make but your post has been a breathe of fresh air for me. i feel more confident and rejuvenated now. Thank you so much for helping me out.
You’re so welcome Isha! I know it’s not always easy to see, but ‘failures’ mean that we’re trying and we’re learning! And there is always something so exciting about new beginnings. Good luck with your future. x
Jennifer, thank you for sharing this very inspiring and refreshing post ? I remember when my soul was feeling stuck just like how you described, but just like you I changed everything to follow my dreams! Anyway, love this article and I’m totally sharing it ?
Hi Sara-Rae! Thanks so much for your kind words; this was a pretty personal post so comments like yours really mean a lot to me. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve changed your life and you’re following your dreams (and that you’re sharing this – thank you, thank you!) ?
And thank you ❤️
This is was me – currently separating, taking a medical leave from work to sort out how to spend the remainder of my life. Thank you again.
Hugs Maria. I hope the time off helps – separation/divorce is bloody tough. x
I absolutely loved this post. The last 6 months have been an extreme roller coaster ride between a high risk pregnancy, a rocky marriage, and every night I find myself sitting back trying to figure out which direction I need to go. My newborn is now 2 weeks old, I have a 5 yr old as well.. and i know so much needs to change, but the fear of not being as successful as I need to be as quick as i need to keeps me feeling stuck, lost, and confused. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.
Wow, thank you so much for your sweet comment and for sharing your story. It sounds like you’re definitely going through a tough time (and I can’t imagine how it must feel to be going through it all while looking after a newborn and a 5 year old!) I don’t have kids, but I can definitely relate to feeling stuck, lost and confused. Sending positive vibes to you and your little family. xx
This is wonderful, Jennifer. Thank you so much for writing this inspiring post. I can absolutely relate and have gone through very similar situations. Your advice is spot on and and so helpful. I hope that this post reaches many woman out there who are struggling with major life issues.
Thank you Alicia! I think so many of us have gone though similar situations (at some point in our lives) and I know when I was struggling it felt very lonely. I hope this post brings inspiration to women who need it too. x
Ahh this is exactly what my soul needed to hear. I know that I want to be a health coach and a writer, and even though I don’t like the job I’m in right now, the thought of taking another desk job somewhere just to keep the money coming in doesn’t feel right to me. All of my friends keep telling me that I need to find a new job because they know my current job doesn’t make me happy, but at the same time, it’s given me the freedom to be able to work on school work and my blog – which ultimately is what will help me get towards the job I want. If I got another desk job somewhere else, it doesn’t mean anything is really going to change. All I know is that I need to keep working on the things that DO make me happy because eventually I’ll be able to make them my career (I think? I hope? Haha).
I totally understand! I love change, but change for the sake of change isn’t always the best thing. I’ve actually done the whole leave my job, panic, end up in another job I hate thing a few times and it’s really demoralising because you go through the whole trauma of change and uprooting your life – but without any reward. Sounds like you have a pretty clear idea of where you want to go with you life, so I totally agree – just keep making more time for what brings you joy. xxx
I love this, Jennifer! The first point — that we are not defined by our careers — particularly resonates with me. I feel like I’ve spent so much energy in my life switching careers, trying to find the “perfect” career, and then feeling bad when it seems like I still haven’t gotten to that point. But you’re right: life isn’t all about what you do for a living (as much as it feels that way sometimes). Thanks for the post. 🙂
Thanks so much for you comment Sarah! I’m so glad this spoke to you (from another chronic career changer to another! ?)
Wow, just wow! Can we arrange so that I get this blog post as a reminder in my inbox each day 😉
Aw, thanks Wendy! I can send you a few reminders if you like hehe ? Have a great day and enjoy your weekend x
This post is incredibly beautiful, thank you so much for sharing those 6 things! 🙂 I especially loved the last point you’ve mentioned, such an important thing to remember x
Sara / AboutLittleThiings
Thank you so much for your kind words ❤️ The last one might be my favourite too xx
That story in the beginning was vivid, Jennifer. I guess you grew out of that stage in your life into a better one. Thanks for sharing those lessons with us!
Hi Daisy – I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I suppose the start was vivid because I remember it so clearly … in some ways it feels like just yesterday. I’m not sure I grew out of that stage of life though – it was more like a crash landing 😉
Thanks for stopping by and for commenting! x