Managing Tough Stuff

NYC_Sal&Bonnie_croppedLife’s transitions and difficulties are no small thing. Our ability to survive them is aided by one small thing we can provide ourselves.

How do we come back from difficulty in life? Clients often want to know the answer to this question, especially while in the midst of great transition or chaos. Twenty years ago I could not have told you how.

Back then I was skimming the surface, feeling a few bumps along the way but never dipping under the surface, where real and deep pain show up. Till that point, I had lived a pretty predictable life.

I thought I was doing well as a daughter, sister, mom and wife, and assumed things would continue in the same predictable, controllable way. Enter a reality check, or several of them.

One after another, things began to collide and I felt there was no longer a safe place to be myself. I no longer reached out to people as I had before to have fun. I became very cautious in who I spoke with and lived a fairly isolated life. I felt that I needed to cocoon myself, wrapped in safety, until things changed in my life.

When we suffer we retract, isolate and may lose ourselves. We seek safety. The noise in our minds is so loud that we find it difficult to let in more noise or certainly more thoughts, which don’t relate to our problem.

Don’t get me wrong. Keeping to ourselves for a while is not a bad thing to do. We learn a lot about ourselves during times like these. We learn what matters most to us. We also learn a lot about other people. We learn who are the people want close and can really trust. Those we trust are the people we need. People don’t automatically deserve this trust. They need to have earned it.

These few, safe people hold a very sacred place in our lives and our hearts. It might be just one person and honestly, that is all that is needed. Studies show that one safe and trusted person holding that much needed space for us to be ourselves and unload for a short while can make a big difference for our ability to cope and heal.

Once we begin to make sense of and adjust to the situation that life has thrown our way, we pick up our heads and begin to rise back up to the surface. We venture out again, and allow more people in.

It can take time. It is a learning experience every time we are faced with difficulty. What gets us through is the person or people who understand us, don’t judge us and quietly hold that healing space for us. For many it can be a life coach if they fear no one else can be judgment free and objective.

Difficulties are part of the human journey of life. And life, in all of its bliss and pain, is to be shared. We don’t need to go it alone.

Sharing the journey is what has kept us alive as a species after all.