Cute, Positive Sayings aren't Always Enough
We've heard the phrases a hundred times before. “Stay positive!” “Keep calm and carry on!” “Never give up!” It’s easy for us to spew out these pithy platitudes when those around us are crushed by the weight of a crisis in life. We aren’t the ones feeling the pain. However, when we ourselves are in a difficult place and these clichés are directed our way, we become painfully aware that sappy sayings look great on wall art, but they do little to help us find our way when our careers, marriages, or our very lives may be at stake.
Ashe owner and sole Clinician of a growing Women’s Health Clinic, as well as a mother of five adult children, I have experienced tremendous challenges over the years. Beyond this, however, I have been privileged to be part of women’s lives in times of both joy and sorrow. I’ve seen women stand up and face crises that would have devastated most people. I have witnessed women overcome adversity and loss with grace and dignity. Through my own experiences and in watching the journeys of my patients, I have found the following steps to be an invaluable way to guide yourself toward the light even when all you can see is darkness:
I have found the following steps to be an invaluable way to guide yourself toward the light even when all you can see is darkness
1. Whether it takes a moment or a few days, purposefully breathe, find your center, and try not to panic, even when everything seems to be crumbling around you at once. Absorb the situation, but don’t allow yourself to mentally or physically “shut down”over the sheer enormity of the problem. Most challenges, even the worst ones, are ultimately a temporary season of life. Assure yourself that you will find a way to navigate through the challenge.Just take a breath and let yourself understand the reality of the situation, but then decide that the fear will not take over.
2. Breakdown the big problem into a series of reasonable, attainable “next steps” that you can conquer one by one. In the middle of a big problem, whether it’s an illness, a legal dispute, or a career setback, you will not know the ultimate outcome ahead of time. You will be walking a path which will, many times, have no end in sight. You just have to take the next step and find peace in the journey.
3. Take stock of what you have and what you need and begin to assemble your resources,whether they are financial, legal, medical, or simply a close support system.Never be afraid to reach out to a small circle of trusted loved ones when you need support, because as long as you are honest, realistic, and frank with them about the situation, they could prove to be some of the most valuable assets of all.
4. Hold your head high, and keep your brave face on. As you make decisions, let reason drive, and shift your emotions to the back seat. Keep tight boundaries between your struggle and those outside of your support system, and think carefully before you speak or post.Remember, while challenges are temporary, actions and words can last forever. For the sake of your loved ones, career, and well-being, learn to compartmentalize your emotions so that you can navigate through your days without anxiety and fear. Regardless of the situation, you must find the strength to put your problems aside and continue to live your life.
5. As you learn to compartmentalize emotions and carry on throughout your days, make sure to leave room for yourself. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Don’t sacrifice your self-care in the name of ease, as it will only make you feel worse over time. Allow moments for the things that bring you delight. Every morning, get up and get dressed in something that makes you feel beautiful. Eat healthy, delicious foods. Move your body for 30 minutes by doing something that you love. Do your absolute best to keep your home environment orderly, because this will make you feel more in control. Even when faced with what seems insurmountable, put one foot in front of the other, and regardless of what happens next, you must keep walking.
A Little Wisdom from the Great John Lennon
Even in the face of adversity, I have learned that finding joy in every day is the secret to living the best life you can. John Lennon once said, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” Every day I remember these words, and I encourage you reflect on them when you feel your world crashing around you. I wish you peace, strength, and fearlessness, on your journey.