Thursday, November 8, 2012

How To Deal With Life Challenges

Life is a series of the good times that warm your heart and put a smile on your face, times so painful we wonder if we will survive, and all those in-between times that we call routine. We hope for the good ones, but sometimes we're faced with those sudden challenges that seem to come out of nowhere and knock us off our routine path. The shock of an unexpected situation can leave us in a state of confusion and mental chaos. We may be faced with a sudden illness, loss of a job, death of a loved one, a natural disaster, a financial loss, divorce, and the list goes on. We hope something like that will never happen, but many people are faced with such traumas.

During the years I worked, I felt very secure as I invested money each month for my retirement, and I remember the emotional devastation I felt when I found out, due to the neglect of financial advisers, that I had lost my retirement fund. Gone. I tried going back to work, but found doors closed to me. Not only was I faced with finding a way to rearrange my budget, I became immersed in fear and self-condemnation. Why had I been so trusting? Why had I not paid off my home mortgage instead of investing? Why had I been so stupid? This was a time of suffering, but also a time of learning. There are many kinds of losses we can't recoup, but with the suffering, we can grow from them. I may not be much smarter today than I was then, but I do know myself better. And I learned some useful coping skills.

It's easy to get so emotionally caught up in a situation you're rendered helpless with no visible way out. But you have to begin recovery somewhere.
1. Get quiet, clarify the problem and identify your feelings. Don't criticize yourself. Most of the time it isn't your fault, but if you have made a mistake, condemning yourself doesn't make it better.
2. Accept where you are, and voice your intention to move forward--even if you don't feel like it.
3. Begin to move yourself from the problem to a solution with a list of actions you can take to move through the trauma. Just one step in the direction of a solution can take you from a sense of helplessness to one of power. Inner action is just as important as any outer action.
4. Change what you can, and accept what you can't.
5. Fear promotes a closed mind. Hope and compassion promote a clear mind. Find someone who will listen and offer emotional support. This is vital.
6. Look within yourself to your wise inner Voice. Allow yourself to be guided from within. Ultimately, that's where you find your answers.
7. Find as much as you can in your life for which to be grateful. Express gratitude for each step you take toward recovery, and learn with each step.

You've probably already lived through many challenges--that's part of life. And you will live through this one. Stronger in the future.

I wish you peace along the way.

Marilyn

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