Tag Archives: coping during hardship

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

My video collection is inexplicable, unless you understand its purpose.  The only movies I actually purchase to keep are those which are safe and make me laugh.  I know no one dies, there is no violence, no animals are killed or harmed in the viewing of this movie and it makes me laugh.

Now I have a fairly warped sense of humor, but that’s OK.  These movies are not for other people.  They are for me.  When I’m going through a stressful period, when I’ve been exposed to too much pain at work, when I’ve heard too many horrifying details of the trauma some of my clients have experienced, when I’m too tired to think, or when I’m feeling really down I put in one of these movies.  I know the lines by heart.  I know nothing awful is going to flash on the screen.  I know they are not going to scare me or make me sad.  I count on them to comfort me and make me laugh.  They are one of the forms of self soothing I use.  I can be very serious and focus on the negative too much and this provides balance.  I use DVDs of stand up comedy the same way.  But I forget to mention this.   In some ways it seems too simple, and it is.  But it works.   

 

I’ve found this same technique works for clients.  One woman was going through a very painful divorce which left her racked with grief.  She sobbed and sobbed, which is good.  She needed to get it out and I would never want to thwart the expression of feelings or use any method to deny them.  Feelings are to be felt.  But sometimes you’ve felt all you can and need a break from the pain.  This client had a favorite old comedy series that she had watched as a child.  Fortunately, these days, you can buy these old favorites in complete sets.  She did.  And she watched one show after another as a way of comforting herself.  It worked.  It soothed the heartache of her loss and enabled her to face the world again. 

If you don’t have such a collection you might want to think about starting one.  It’s important to remember that you are buying these for you.  What makes each of us laugh is very individual and personal. 

For more articles on self care and mental health, please visit my blog at:  www.kellevision.com.

 

 

Change Happens

Life isn’t always easy but we can struggle against the current of change or we can embrace it.

Change can be abrupt; like when we lose a loved one, a job, or develop an illness, or change can happen gradually over time; such as children growing up and leaving the nest, or dissatisfaction in a relationship or a career. But however it happens, you cannot avoid it. CHANGE HAPPENS!

In my life, change is almost always accompanied with a feeling of being slapped in the face. It happens quick and has a certian wow factor to it! I don’t ponder career choices – I lose jobs I love with no advance warning. Serious illnesses pop up like daffodils in the spring, and although I hate moving and always swear this is the last time, I change homes every 3-5 years!

Sudden changes never feel good when they are happening but I’ve learned a lot from the changes I’ve had to endure and I now have a brighter outlook about change.

CHANGE
– can bring better opportunities
– can teach us new things
– motivates us to reflect on what’s important & valued
– can teach us what NOT to do in the future
– almost always carries a message for us

When you choose to make a change in your life it’s quite easy to feel positive about the change but when change is forced upon you it’s a lot more difficult to be optimistic about it!

Whenever change is forced upon me, I allow myself 24 hours of self pity and anger, and then I analyze the change. I ask myself what role I played leading up to the change (being brutally honest with yourself is the only way to go). Was I responsible for the change? Did my actions, inaction, or attitude cause the unwanted change?

If I played a role in bringing about the change, I again allow myself 24 hours to mentally beat myself up for it. Then I accept responsibility for my actions and ask myself what can I learn from this experience and do I need to make any personal changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Hanging on to feelings of guilt takes too much energy so I look for the lesson I’m being taught and move on.

I have recently started to keep a log in the back of my journal of the lessons I’ve learned from unexpected or forced change. I review the list periodically to make sure that I’m not slipping back in to old patterns that are going to cause the same results. It’s one thing to say you’ve learned a lesson, but we are creatures of habit and it is very easy to slip back in to old patterns. The log helps me remember what the universe has already taught me so that I don’t have to repeat the lesson.

Sometimes though, we don’t play a role in causing the change. After analyzing the change, if I can’t find any personal responsibility for it I let it go. I have accepted that there are things, people, and circumstances that are beyond my control and I focus instead on what I can control.

What I control:
My Attitude and Thoughts
My Actions and Reactions
My Beliefs, my Dreams, my Hopes

What I do NOT control:
Other peoples Attitudes, Thoughts,
Actions, Reactions, Beliefs, Dreams, & Hopes
The Weather

When a situation is out of my control and I know I didn’t bring it on myself, I resort to faith. I am not a religious person but I do believe that there is a force at work in this universe that controls the things that I cannot. I have to believe that this God, Higher Spirit, or whatever you choose to call it, knows more than I do and that there is reason behind whatever happens. I might not understand the reason for an unexpected change but I have faith that everything happens for a reason and that someday maybe I’ll understand why the change was forced upon me.

Examples of the changes I’ve endured and the lessons I’ve learned will have to wait for another day as this entry is already getting a bit long (my loved ones tell me that I tend to ramble on a bit!), however a summary might be useful!

1. Change cannot be avoided.

2. Change can bring better opportunities, teach us valuable life lessons, and motivate us to reflect on our values.

3. Analyze what caused the change and accept any responsibility you have for it.

4. Give yourself a chance to feel self pity, anger, and guilt but never for more than 24 hours at a time. These emotions will drain your energy and will not constructively help you to move forward.

5. Remember that there are things that are beyond your control.

6. Watch for the lessons or ‘messages’ that change is sending you and try keeping a log so that you don’t have to repeat them.

7. Have faith that everything happens for a reason.

8. Accept that you might not understand it right now, but that it is for some unknown reason going to benefit you in the long run.

Some of my favorite sayings that help me cope with change are:
This too shall pass!
Everything happens for a reason!
and
If it is meant to be, it will be!

 

Hardship or Challenge?

Living a life that is strewn with hardship can be down right depressing. When you feel like you are always trying to paddle against the current, it is very easy to get stuck in pools of self pity and hopelessness. Even the most positive thinkers can develop a “Why Bother?” attitude when there are numerous or prolonged hardships in their lives.

I have battled with trying to keep a “positive” attitude many, many times. It is so easy for others to say “keep your chin up”, “things will get better soon”, “don’t let it get you down”, “think positive”, or “there are worse things that can happen, consider yourself lucky”. Although all of these cliché sayings are meant to help you get through hardship, they usually lack any life changing motivation.

When you are on the receiving end of these types of comments, they can actually make you feel more isolated with your problems. You walk away feeling like the person either doesn’t have the ability or the desire to understand how difficult your situation is or how deeply it is affecting you. When you feel misunderstood or alone in your struggle, it is even easier to become despondent or depressed.

A change in attitude is absolutely beneficial when your life seems like an uphill battle. But finding a substantial belief that changes the very core of your thinking patterns is not easy; and for most of us, an over-used positive attitude saying just doesn’t cut it!

I am not a perky, naive, always looking on the bright side, type of person. I have and continue to struggle against hardships that seem to just drop out of the sky. Currently, my husband and I are both out of work and have been since late last fall. I am also struggling with some neurological pain as a result of my lung surgery over five months ago. And to be honest, I am also suffering from some post traumatic stress issues after being told a year ago that I had either lung cancer or lymphoma. Luckily for me, the quack who told me that I had a disease that does not have a high survival rate was wrong. The 3½ cm tumor turned out to be non cancerous and seven months later it was successfully removed. The physical scar of this ordeal is ugly and in plain sight. The emotional scars are deeper, harder to deal with, and more difficult for others who have not experienced it to understand.

Yet I am maintaining a good attitude, I am positive about the future, I am still able to experience joy, I live my life with gratitude, and I still dream, I still hope, and I still believe that my life good. Again, I am not naïve, I don’t have a constant cheery disposition, and I’m not what you would call religious. So how do I remain positive about my life during hardship? I simply do not consider struggle and hardship to be negative experiences. I believe that these challenges are for my benefit; or that someone else, maybe a loved one, is going to benefit from my experiences.

If you can believe that every experience, good or bad, happens for a      reason, then it is much easier to remain positive. I have endured many hardships but I have learned something from each one.

I understand and can empathize with: teen runaways, single moms, the parents of children who are repeatedly in and out of hospitals, people who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident, hard working people who can’t seem to get ahead, people on disability or social assistance, people who have been misdiagnosed, misinformed, or mistreated by so called professionals, the parents of children with learning disabilities, the unemployed, the depressed, the parents of troublesome teenagers, and people who have heard those two dreaded words – “It’s cancer”. And I’m only half way through this wonderful life!

I think that I have a lot to offer this world, and I would not be who I am, or who I can be in the future, if I had not been challenged so many times. I look at every experience, especially the difficult ones, as an opportunity to learn, grow, and not just survive but excel. My experiences have changed me; they’ve made me more aware of other people’s struggles, they have made me less judgmental, and they have taught me to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.

If you turn your hardships into challenges, and accept all of your experiences as opportunities to learn, grow, and share, you too might find it easier to not just cope but thrive.

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