Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Life is a struggle no matter how perfect you try to make yourself. It is impossible to avoid the pitfalls life is bound to fall upon your life. Regardless of the many tests and trials, you have experienced along your life journey, there always seems to be another test bigger and harder than the last one you experienced. They seem to side-swap you when you least expect it. Everyone handles life's challenges in many ways. Some roll with the punches and keep on moving coexisting with the dilemma as if it never happened. Others get so consumed with the situation that they regress and harbor the event as a boulder they carry with them for the rest of their life. If you are like me, you try to control the events and tend to hinder the situation than help the outcome. So how do you handle a crisis that comes your way? Should you let it consume you? Should you give in to the temptation of defeat?
How do you really survive a struggle that you were never prepared to have in the first place?
I have learned through my personal life struggles that you can not avoid the crazy that life throws in your face.
You will never be prepared for the new struggle that has hijacked your life because all struggles are not equal. You can not prepare for it like its a big exam or an interview for a new position. Believe me, it going to blindside you. We have to stop the mentality that we are going to Olive Pope this event, tragedy, loss, setback, or situation that has entered our lives.
To survive the struggle, you have to ride the wave.
Before an experienced surf "rides a wave" they do a couple of things to ensure they are ready for the ride. First, they have to balance themselves on their board, then assess the wave and lastly get up and prepare to take on the ride.
The same mentality can be applied when facing our own life struggles. I suggest 3 key steps.
Do a Mental Check-In
Assess the Challenge
Live in the Struggle (i.e. ride the wave)
A mental check-in is exactly what it sounds like; what are your current emotions. Name them, acknowledge them, feel them, and accept all the emotions that have arisen with this new life challenge. If you can not identify your emotions and regulate them, then there is no way you can successfully handle whatever life is giving you.
Assess the challenge that lies in front of you and determine your ability to successfully deal with the rollercoaster life has given you during your current turmoil. Ask yourself, a series of questions, Is this a new test? Have you dealt with this problem before in the past? How is it similar? What makes this problem so much more difficult to handle? Once you start mentally assessing your abilities to handle the circumstance, you will know if you have all the tools to go at it alone or call in for reinforcement. I strongly suggest you have a strong, but a small circle of advisors that are level headed and mentally fit to support you when you need it.
Living in the struggle is the hardest part, you have to face the reality that your world is changing and the outcome may not be to your likening.
We can not fight the unimaginable elements that are handed to us. Surfers prepare to take on a wave, but I am sure they will tell you that no wave is the same, and once you are on the wave you do your best to remain in your form and glide with the wave. Just like a surfer can not tell a wave when and how to end, we can not dictate our struggle and get off when we do not like where it is heading.
All we can do is manage our emotions, assess the situation, and accept the new normal, regardless of how temporary or permanent it may be. Too often, we want to rush through the pain and hardships, push down the regret and loss, dismiss the failure, and tunnel our way to the next life event. When we dismiss the situation and handle them in unhealthy ways, the situation never goes away it just silently grows until we can not bear the pressure and spiral out. Therefore do the mental work now before the wave hits. Love yourself enough to get in a healthy headspace, practice good self-care, dive deep into yourself and discover who you really are before hardship hits. You will be all the better for it.
Finding a therapist is easier than most think. Ask family and friends or do a quick Google search for a therapist in the area. Psychology Today is also a great resource to search for many therapists at once.
About the Author:
Shawnesse Herbert is a licensed professional counselor in Cypress, TX.
Shawnesse is also the creator of DIscover S.E.LF. and has been working in the mental health field for the last three years. She has a Masters of Arts in Counseling from Prairie View A&M. She has clinical counseling experience working in a local Behavioral Health Hospital in Richmond county and therapeutic counseling in Harris county. Ms. Herbert has a 14-year extensive background history in education working with preteens and teens. Along with her dedication to self-care and self-love of oneself, she specializes in support individuals dealing with depression and anxiety. Learn more about her passions here.