Coping with Difficult Times – Sink or Swim

Coping with Difficult Times

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Life happens. Coping with it makes all of the difference between sinking into a dark place or staying afloat and swimming. How we make it through these difficult challenges comes from two main processes:

  1. How we think about what is going on,
  2. What we do about it or the actions we take to move through this time.

It also involves a decision:

  1. Sink: To give in to what is happening with no action or ways of getting emotional balance, or
  2. Swim: To identify options of resolving the issue at hand — and if this is not possible, resolve to identify ways of coping with the situation or making the best of what is possible.

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know.

There are implications to this concept:

  1. Life skills are rarely taught in school. There is no shame in not knowing what to do in a particular situation. This is especially true when we face an issue that we have never experienced before, and did not expect to have to deal with in our life.
  2. Recognizing when we do not know something gives us the opportunity to choose what we do next:
    1. Pretend or act as if we have enough information to go forward
    2. Go into denial
    3. Determine what it is that we don’t know and identify available sources to gain information. Are there specific resources that specialize in dealing with this life issue? If so, they likely offer some form of emotional support or education that can be very helpful.
  3. Understand that just because we can’t see a solution in no way means there isn’t one.

Ways of Coping:

  1. In difficult times, I treat myself as if I have the “emotional flu”. In other words, I don’t do as many chores or activities as I would normally do. I do not make as many social or work commitments as I normally would do.
  2. Get plenty of rest. If unable to sleep consistently, consider speaking with your doctor to determine a possible temporary solution to improving sleep. Sleep is everything: it regenerates cellular growth. It allows our body to fully rest, mentally and physically.
  3. For some people staying busy takes their mind off their troubles. You need to know the difference between “staying busy” and being busy to avoid dealing with your troubles.
  4. Ask your friends and family for emotional support. Choose those people who feel emotionally safe for you. These need to be emotionally healthy people as much as possible. Try to lessen your time or avoid those who are not as emotionally healthy for you.
  5. Balance is a must: mentally, emotionally and physically. Also being spiritually balanced for those people that have spirituality in their lives.
  6. For some people writing in a journal is very helpful. It gets some of your thoughts and emotions out of your head to “de-clutter” and also helps you to “see on paper” what thoughts and feelings you are carrying around with you. It can also help you to see progress from where you began in this issue to where you are today.
  7. Take things one day at a time. This is not meant as a cliche’. Get through the day and try not to look too far ahead. Often we feel overwhelmed when we look too far into the future.
  8. Think through the “worst case scenario”. What are the chances of that occurring? What would you do if it did occur? The worst case scenario usually does not happen. Anything else other than that will be better.
  9. Project your thinking to look past the present situation when things will be better.
  10. Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling. Remember, we don’t know what we don’t know. Life skills are rarely taught in school.

NEXT BLOG: Mind-shifts: Ideas That Catapult us Forward in our Thinking & Growth

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on YourTango.com and on MSN.com.

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