We all have times when life gets tough. Sometimes it’s bigger or more disastrous than others. But tough stuff and challenges still happen.
What is your typical response? Whine and complain? Get angry? Get depressed? Give in to your comfort addictions? Try to avoid the issue? Or maybe all or some of the above?
The hard things in life are hard, because they are never what we (a) anticipate, or (b) really want to have to deal with. Recently, I laughed when my adult daughter said she didn’t want to “adult” in a stressful situation. Being “adult” means having the maturity and emotional resilience to handle anything that comes our way.
Since many of the reactions I mentioned are so common and often ingrained, let’s deconstruct them and look for a better way to “adult” your way through the tough stuff.
Reaction: Whine and complain.
The main root of this behavior is that we think we are powerless to resolve the issue. Complaining, especially to those who are indeed powerless to fix it, is a complete waste of time. The immaturity of whining is just like being a toddler, waiting for “Mommy” to fix it. Newsflash – YOU are the only one who can fix it. It’s your tough stuff, nobody else’s. You may find someone who will feel sorry for you, or even commiserate for a while, but you eventually have to deal with it. So think through possible solutions, get your head on straight, and just go do what you can to resolve it. You can only do that when you own your part in the problem. Often the very things that upset us, were preventable. Take the lesson from it, too. Learn from it. Take back your power.
Reaction: Get Angry
Normally, at the root of this, is blame. It’s easier to blame someone else for the issue because that allows you to procrastinate handling it for a while. You freak out and tell everybody what happened…wasting time (yours and theirs) while doing that. Most of what happens to us in life, even though perhaps sourced externally, is managed internally. If someone has wronged you and created the problem, look within and reflect on how you should have prevented it, or how you can handle it now. Do you need to talk to them about it? Of if it doesn’t involve anyone else, what can you learn from it? How can you prevent it happening again? Take back your power.
Reaction: Get Depressed
I used to always think that depression was unresolved anger. It probably is, but more importantly, it’s unresolved grief. I’m not talking about grief as a result of losing someone in death – that’s an entirely different matter. This is grief related to circumstances or a situation that you perceived as very hurtful. Not dealing with that grief will always lead to depression. So allow yourself time to grieve it. Grieving is a deep emotional healing process that we often deny ourselves and as a result, we never completely recover from it. Sometimes you can cry with someone who loves you. Journal your feelings. Express them to yourself. Don’t feel guilty about the feelings you have. Once you’ve processed the emotion of it, know when to move on, take the lesson, and let go of the sadness. The lesson always relates to how you can prevent it happening again, and what you learned that you can do differently. Take back your power.
Reaction: Give in to comfort addictions
Be it food, alcohol, nicotine, or other feel-good activities, if you have a crutch, a “go to” habit when you are distressed, it’s a sign of avoidance. It may make you feel good in the moment, but ultimately it’s going to cause you to dislike yourself even more and set up a spiral of self-deprecation that’s damaging and a difficult cycle to break. If you find yourself engaging in your addictive behaviors, look within and find the unresolved emotion. Process it and get it out. If you don’t, it will continue to haunt you. Then, like all the other reactions, find the lesson. Figure out how you can handle things different. See where you can get better and go do that. Take back your power.
The reality is that you are an adult. You can’t engage in behaviors of a young child.
Adulting is tough, and the better you get at managing yourself, the easier the management of life will become.
It’s your life. Live it with all the ups and downs and enjoy the ride.