“Just like the lotus flower we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world.”
Thousands of Pinterest quotes and #MotivationMonday can be found all over social media reminding us that "Life is tough but so are you". Church folks will even quote all the verses they can think of in reference to being "strong and courageous". We are taught to "get out of our feelings" and to quickly "move on". We are told that the secret lies in thinking positive thoughts, praying and meditating.
What we aren't taught however was that there are no "formulas" on how to avoid the tough times. In fact kind of I wish that they actually offered a How To Navigate Through Life's Challenges 101 class in college instead of classes like "Discrete Math" ! They fail to tell us that sooner or later, we all get a brick thrown in the face at the most unexpected time; bankruptcy, death, miscarriage, divorce, cancer ...those things that you never once thought would happen to you. I get so skeptical when things are going well, because life has a way of making us feel like we've got all it all figured out, until we realized that we really have nothing figured out!
It's true that people grieve and deal with situations differently, however no one is immune to pain. No matter how positive, spiritual, or successful we are, we will all go through tough times. Sure tough times don't last! But how do you get through those tough times when you're not strong enough to be "tough"?
I certainly don't have the answer to every question, nor am I a therapist. But I can share with you some of the things that have helped me get through some tough times in the past.
#1 Allow Yourself To Grieve
In order to grieve, we have to first acknowledge pain. Pain demands to be felt, and the longer we linger in denial, the longer the healing process takes. Psychologists have identified Denial as the first stage of grief. Going into isolation, and avoiding dealing with a situation are normal initial reactions. But you've got to allow yourself to move past the denial stage in order to get to the acceptance stage.
I went through a grieving period of my life, where I just wanted to sleep through the pain. I was in college, living on my own, and I remember getting home every day and taking over the counter sleeping pills to go right to sleep, whether it was at noon or 6pm. My denial stage must have lasted a couple months, I lost track of time, and still can't quite remember now. My reality check came when I started having shortness of breath, and felt uneasy in my skin. It was only a matter of time before my clothes couldn't fit, and realized that I gained about 30 lbs in a matter of months! I had develop arthritis and started having hormone imbalance issues. While I was trying to avoid dealing with certain things, I was literally making myself sick. By then I had no other choice but to acknowledge the pain, and anger of now having to deal with the excess weight. My two options were to either let everything consume me, or nurture myself back to health.
#2 Fast & Pray
Fasting is a temporary renunciation of something that is in itself good, like food, in order to intensify our expression of need for something greater; namely, God and his work in our lives. - John Piper
Sometimes we need to show God how desperate we are! There are situations that you are faced with that requires that you not only pray, but also fast. This is not to say that prayer in itself isn't sufficient, but sometimes fasting is the only way to get our minds and our bodies to solely focus on God.
There are many resources available in reference to fasting. The way you decide to fast is entirely up to you. You may do intermittent fasting where you fast half day, and eat the other half. You can also do the Daniel Fast which I've done several times before. You may decide to fast on your own, or with fellow church members, friends, and family. My friends and I have done a 30 days praying & fasting using the book Draw The Circle, and some of our prayers had been answered even before we finished the fast. Sometimes we need guidance on how to pray specific, and intentional prayers.
#3 Seek Professional Help
I must've been 20 years old when I found myself sitting in front of a therapist for the very first time. I wasn't sure what my "issue" was, but I was on the verge of changing my major for the fourth time, I was having anxiety attacks after dealing with the murder of a former schoolmate, and my father getting kidnapped due to political instability in Haiti. I was avoiding friends, skipping class, and walked away from a perfectly fine relationship for no valid reasons. I didn't know how this stranger would be able to help, but I knew that I needed to get help.
Thankfully I was able to have access to free counseling sessions at the college that I attended. I met with my therapists once a week, and was able to work though some issues that I had been carrying with me since my teenage years. Talking to a therapist can help with finding ways to deal with problems, discuss coping mechanisms, career choices, dealing with grief or issues at home.
A great deal of health insurance will cover counseling, and most colleges offer free sessions to their students. In my field of work, I've encountered several children who had social and learning difficulties due to the issues they were having at home. These children were carriers of their parents issues. Recognizing the importance of identifying and resolving conflicts brought my mother and I to offer all parents and students counseling sessions through our school therapist. No matter how young, or old you are, your mental health is equally important as your physical health.
#4 Read Books & Listen To Podcasts
The very first self help book that I read was The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I was still in high school and learned so much from it as a teenager looking for her way and purpose. Then I went on to read The Success Principles by Jack Canfield that my father gave me as a high school graduation present. I've been indulging in self help books ever since.
Some of my all time favorites are:
- Peace From The Broken Pieces (which I wrote about in my old blog)
- The Secret
- The Circle Maker
- The Four Agreements
- The Alchemist
- The Power Of The subconscious mind
- Think And Grow Rich
I also found that listening to audio books, along with podcasts, greatly help with keeping my mind clear and focused while I drive, which is when I tend to get lost in my thoughts. There are so many good podcasts out there, but I religiously listen to following:
#5 Find A Hobby
My old blog Chronicles Of A Sick Rose was created at a time where I needed to express my thoughts and feelings. I love writing, it soothes me. So every time I got overwhelmed, I wrote. I wrote about my hurts, my dreams, my fears, and my wishes. Most of my posts were motivational and were meant to keep myself encouraged. It took me by surprise when people started reaching out to me about how much they related to them. I quickly understood that we are all fighting the same battles, so I kept writing to clear my thoughts all the while reaching out to my readers who were going through similar situations.
I also developed a passion for exercising!
When I wasn't at school, teaching, or blogging, I was at the gym. I took zumba, pilates, yoga, and hired a trainer. I even took kickboxing at some point (until I injured my achilles tendon). Exercising is truly a great stress reliever! When you exercise your body releases endorphins which are chemicals that act like natural pain killers and relieve stress. When you exercise you feel great on the inside and look good on the outside. It's a win-win!
Whatever your passion or talent may be, turn it into a hobby. Do something that makes your soul feel good!
#6 Live In The Present
Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything's possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.- Mari Lu
We often make the mistake of wanting to have it all figured out right here, right now. We allow ourselves to get paralyzed by fear of the unknown. We worry about things that we have no control over, and play out scenarios that may never even come to pass. When we worry, our body tries to prepare itself for the worst-case scenario so our imagination creates these alternate realities that are terrible and cause us to stress out and get nervous about impending events.
When we spend so much time worrying about the future, we do not have the required energy to focus on the present. Learn to live now and let go of your assumptions of what will happen in your life down the road.
Always keep in mind that no one can manipulate time. What will happen is inevitable, and you have no control over the future.
So let go of your fear, it's all mental. Take it one day at time, and allow yourself to live fully in the present.
It is my hope that this post will resonate with someone who desperately needs it. Also, please feel free to share with me some of the things that have helped you get through a rough patch in the past, you never who you might help by sharing some of your experiences!
As always Thanks for reading & Sharing!
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