I was sitting with a friend some weeks back, moaning about my feelings and all the things I was going through and he said to me, “Tara, no one will know by looking at you, you always seem to have a smile on your face and your response anytime you are asked, how are you? is fine!” He continued by saying, “you have a gift and you must share with the world how you manage not to let the things going on inside or outside of you affect your disposition to life”.
I thought about what he said and traced back my coping mechanisms to a very young age and in the light of all that is happening both in our world and in our nation, with the rising costs of inflation and insecurity, with fears within and without, I will like to share with someone what has worked and still works for me in the hope that it will work for you.
- Accept your reality, where you are and who you are. If this is a recurring theme in my writings it’s because it’s true, you can’t overcome what you haven’t accepted is happening to you. Most times denial of what is happening to us is not based on faith but on fear. It is fear that makes us scurry away from the darkness in or around us. It’s fear that makes us parrot statements like “It is not my portion” “I reject it”. Faith , true faith is not a denial of facts but the belief in the existence of a higher reality. There is a strength that comes when you face your fears because you will find in yourself the willingness to fight and overcome it.
- This will not overcome me. I remember clearly sweeping on my knees (that’s how we swept at home) in my childhood home and saying to myself with tears streaming down my face because I had been reprimanded for something, that this will not overcome me. I am told that decisions made during times of extreme emotions are watershed moments and I guess that was one of them for since then, as far as I can remember, every time an obstacle, adversity or challenge has come my way, something within me rises to the occasion and says this will not overcome me. This is not to say that I will not cry or feel sorry for myself but such moments are short lived. I have developed an innate belief that I am more than what happens to me and that I can handle anything that comes my way, all things being equal. You may say that my outlook is as a result of privileges or my personality traits, but I grew up with a pessimistic view of life, always believing the worst will happen and it took years of mental conditioning by making daily affirmations to wean me of that attitude, if I can do it so can you.
- There is nothing that has happened to me or is happening to me that is uncommon. When we are faced with life, we often tend to think our case is unique but is it really? At some point or the other we will all face the same emotions and realities, certainly, the degrees will differ but face them we will. Death will come, trials will come, sickness will come if not to us but to those we love. There is nothing that has or will come to us that has not befallen another. Look for support from people who have gone through or are going through what you are going through, they are likely to be open about their challenges and how they coped or overcame them. Support groups are essential for emotional and psychological healing.
- Focus on the things you can do and that are within your control. I was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, when I was told the diagnosis, there was no point disbelieving or rejecting it because I was experiencing the symptoms. After I left the doctor, my immediate reaction was to read up on the condition and find out what I needed to do to lessen the symptoms. The next thing I did was to harness my thoughts, look at the worse case scenario and then plan against it happening. Thankfully, the things we can control- our thoughts, attitude and perception make a big difference in the things we can’t control.
- Feel the pain. Whatever you do, don’t numb your pain or feelings. It’s very seductive to succumb to detachment either through drugs, alcohol, sex, food, shopping, gambling, etc but numbing one’s pain only postpones the evil day. Many of us, especially the male folk, are putting up brave faces whilst carrying unresolved pain or feelings, please there is nothing wrong in crying, asking for help and/or accepting help. Being vulnerable with the right person is therapeutic. Recently, I had a need to be held, and decided to ask a friend to hold me for a while, my request was granted without any questions, conditions or put down and suffice to say the need was fulfilled leaving me in a much better place.
- Social connections. Isolation is akin to a whirlpool. It sucks us in and drowns us. When things happen to us, our immediate inclination is to hide from others either as a result of shame or fear but please do not withdraw from others. Keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it, they will help take your mind off your troubles even if it be for a while and help you see your troubles and opportunities in a new light. My social connections have been a major source of strength for me in times of trouble, I have had friends come to sit with me in times of trouble just so I couldn’t be alone and to share my day with me. There really is nothing we cannot handle with the backing of a good social network.
- There is always a way out. We may not see it or know it immediately but there is always a way out. Sometimes it may take a bit of humility to stoop to find the way out or climb to see our way through but there is always a way out. Sometimes we may have to burrow, sometimes we may have to sell what we have but there is always a way out.
- Faith in a God that wants to help. It may sound cliché but it is my strong belief that God wants to help me and so I trust in his goodness and love. I dare say that since I have embraced this belief, I have become very unperturbed with the cycles of life. I sleep and wake up with an assurance that I will not be left stranded and things always work out even though it may be at the last minute.
- Positive projection. In every situation there are people who have succeeded and those who have failed. Even in war there are people that will prosper when others become bankrupt. There is always an exception to the rule. Focus on the positives in every situation that you find yourself in. Believe and be determined as much as it lies within you, to be the positive exception to the rule.
Hard times will come and though they may take their time to go or leave a mark when they do, there are good lessons to be learned in the house of pain. The difficult times I have experienced have contributed to my growth and development in all areas of my life.
There are lessons to be learnt in the house of pain, the lessons are different for each of us but they are essential for our fulfillment.
Learn your lessons well.