Archives for March, 2012
You can bounce back from the tough times in life by using any number of skills that help improve your resiliency. Here’s a quick list of some of the most useful tips with some helpful links included. Remember that most of these are a practice. You’re not expected to master them overnight. But go ahead and pick out one or two - or fourteen! - to try. 1. Accept what is.You’ve got a bad situation in front of you and it’s time to become completely honest with yourself and really seewhat is happening. No more denial or wishful thinking that it will get better. Take away all the emotion from it, identify the problem, and accept that it is reality. 2. Firmly grasp the reality that change is a part of life. You struggle against change. You expend a lot of energy making sure that change doesn’t happen in your life. Save your energy for better things and accept that change truly is a normal part of life. Expect it.
You're trapped. You're stuck inside your head with the same thoughts going around and around and around: "Why do I feel this way?" "There must be something really wrong with me." "I don't have the energy to deal with things which means I won't be able to work which means I won't be able to support me or my family." "This is awful." "What am I doing or thinking that is making me feel this way? If I could just figure it out . . ." The problem is, while you're thinking, thinking, thinking, you're not doing. Effectively, you're stuck in the paralysis of analysis.
“I get up to that start line and my heart is pounding so hard I think I’m going to have a heart attack,” Andrea tells me. “I can barely remember the course or what I’m supposed to do out there.” Andrea, my partner, loves to do agility sports with her dog, Georgia. But she experiences competition anxiety like many people do. It tends to interfere with her ability to run the course smoothly and make split-second decisions on how to guide Georgia most efficiently to the finish line. Similarly, some of my clients tell me that they don’t know how to handle their intense emotions of frustration, sadness, anger, or a whole host of other feelings.
Should you try to get rid of a negative emotion?Both Andrea and my clients spend a lot of time and energy developing ways to make the feelings go away. Andrea tries taking deep breaths. A client might try avoiding thinking about the frustrating situation she is experiencing. These are not bad ideas and they certainly are not going to hurt anything. (I, of course, am especially fond of the deep breathing idea!) However, the root of the problem lies in trying to get rid of the emotion altogether. My advice? Don’t buy into the emotion.
We frequently have opportunities to increase what I like to call everyday resilience. It's the stuff we need to get us through the ups and downs of our daily lives and just plain make us feel better. They can be easy to miss, though. Let me illustrate with this story: The other day I was walking along in a small shopping center, headed for Starbucks. My mood was blue and I was feeling discouraged. I struggle with depression occasionally and I was concerned that it might be raising its dark head. I glanced up as I walked and saw a teenage girl about to pass me. My blue-themed thinking went something like, “Teenagers. So involved in themselves and their phones...she’ll probably just look away or give me that look like I don’t exist.” Wrong.
1. Realize that everyone bounces back differently. Some people literally do bounce back after the loss of a loved one. And this doesn’t mean they didn’t love the person any more than someone who is in the throes of painful grief for a long time. Everyone has a different reaction to death. So, if you’re one of those people who bounce back fairly quickly, that’s okay. And if you’re one of those people who experiences grief for months and years, that’s okay, too. 2. Tell friends what you need. Friends want to help, but sometimes you have to let them know the specifics of what you need. Here are some examples: