Life has a job to do and sometimes once in a while, it will cooperate with your plans.
More often, the “job” of life can look an awful lot like situations, relationships and problems that may (at least at first) feel like life is kicking you when you are down. Sometimes our minds react. We feel misery, rather mystery… suffering rather than buffering.
You won’t always be on top of things. In some areas of your life, it is normal (and healthy) to feel like you are just keeping your head above water. Each of us will face different through the course of our lives: trauma, addiction, depression, anxiety, rejection, disappointment or even despair.
Four responses to our most difficult situations
- Resilience – Bouncing back after a situation, returning or springing back to a prior state of well being and functioning.
- Post Traumatic Growth – Growing beyond your previous state or functioning, developing in new ways as a result of your experience, circumstance or situation.
- Adjust to a New Normal – Realizing that life will not be what it was before, adjusting to a new normal even though it may not be what we wished for.
- Settle into (or Under?) a Victim Mentality (or Learned Helplessness) – Believing that life will never go our way, that life has set us aside and as a result we sit on the sidelines, out of the action and off the path.
The most unhealthy response to our circumstances
Life can be difficult and at times it may be devastating. We may try to overcome all of our circumstances, emotions and challenges but sometimes the best thing we can do is admit that life is not the same as it was before. At times, we are able to be resilient and sometimes we even experience growth as a result of our circumstances. Few of us want to admit it, but sometimes we all can feel like a victim for a short while.
Where things can become unhealthy is when we become rigid and try to force ourselves, or life, to always fit what we want. For example, if we always expect to be resilient, we can put too much pressure on ourselves to bounce back. Sometimes growth can be a lot slower than we wish. We may pressure ourselves and expect to always be on top of things, but life just doesn’t work that way.
At times, we may adjust too quickly. We may settle for what we feel is a “new normal” rather than seeing if we can change some part of how we respond, or adjust some aspect of how we think or feel about our situation. And at times, we may fall into a victim mentality, believing that life will never go our way.
One of the most unhealthy responses is being stuck or inflexible, believing that life:
- Should always be the same as it was before
- Must be better that before
- Can’t improve and the best thing to do is quickly adjust to the “new normal”
- Will always go against us and that we cannot do anything, ever, to change it
We can learn to be flexible, learn to respond so that over time we will grow through our lives rather than feel like life has decided to make an example out of us.
How can you respond to trauma in a way that helps you to grow and maybe even thrive? Stay tuned to tomorrow’s post…
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You may want to read some of my related work on the subject:
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Keep it Real
Photo by Nothing 2 Dew