I sometimes wonder about the thin line that separates thriving and drowning.
What can we do that protects us when life comes and kicks us hard?
Can we still aspire to happiness when things go wrong in those areas in our life that we cherish the most?
I will take one step back. I am the Mom to a gorgeous kid that a few years ago was diagnosed with a disability.
I consider myself a happy person. But, I have read so often about depression in parents of kids with special needs, that at some point in time I started wondering what had protected me against it.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it is fair to say that I have shed more tears in the last few years than in my forty previous years of life.
I have felt sad, heartbroken, isolated, frustrated, wronged, misunderstood, uncertain and sick-worried about the future.
But, I still consider myself a happy person.
And, I wanted to share what I feel is at the heart of what has helped me to thrive when life has kicked me in the guts.
If there is just one person out there, that finds a bit of help in my experience, then, the time I’ve spent mulling over this has been worth it.
Have a plan (maybe a plan B and a plan C too!)
Life can throw heartbreak at you. And it is normal to feel helpless when disaster strikes.
Helplessness and lack of control are intimidating and frightening feelings.
But devising a plan helps you feel in control.
You may have been fired from your dream job, but sitting down, reflecting on what has gone wrong and preparing an action plan may help you feel you have regained control over your life.
You may not have a choice in certain circumstances that happen in your life. But you have choices in how you act upon them.
Turn yourself into your main project
You are immensely important.
And you need to take good care of yourself.
Stop thinking about everybody around you and take a moment to think about what YOU want in your life.
Reflect on the life you would like to live and set objectives that take you closer.
- How often do you want to meet up with friends?
- How much “me” time do you need in your week?
- What places would you like to visit?
- Would you like to join a group of think-alike people?
- What leisure activities have you been wanting to add to your routine?
- Would you like to give back to your community?
- What new health habits would you benefit from?
- What type of job or professional activity would you like to spend the next 5 years doing?
- Would you consider retraining into a new field of interest?
- What projects could fulfill you and make you grow?
Think about all the areas in your life that are important. And then, stop thinking and act upon them.
Write down long and short term objectives.
Make a schedule and start planning the life that you want.
Just don’t put so much pressure on yourself that it becomes stressful.
Family & Friends’ Support
Relying on your social support system is a great help in difficult times.
We have been blessed with extremely caring and supportive families. They have always gone the extra mile to make sure they were doing all they could to help us in this difficult journey.
I understand this is a tricky point. We don’t choose our families, and not everybody is lucky enough to have the right support.
You may feel you need your family and friends’ support but are not getting it. Before you give up on their help, make sure you are:
- Letting them know exactly what you need from them. They may be eager to support you but not clear on how to do it.
- Telling them also what things are not helpful to you.
These three strategies have made a huge difference in my life:
- Planning and taking control in difficult times
- Having fulfilling projects that help me grow (and that are different from me being a wife and a mother)
- Welcoming and accepting the loving support of our families.
You’ll adapt these ideas to work in your particular situation but be assured that it IS possible to cope with all the kicks and knocks life hands us with planning and action!