A huge part of being human is the emotional turbulence we all face from time to time, from exciting emotional highs to those unbearable low moments. A recent gallup poll showed that a whopping 55% of people in the US experienced stress on a daily basis. If not dealt with aggressively, these stresses can lead to despair, dejection and despondence.
As someone who has suffered from a bout of stress that left me feeling depleted and depressed, I know that every person going through this is trapped in a tragic cycle of self-blame, self-pity and a lack of will to live life fully.
I came to the realization that the most significant step you can take towards recovery is changing your internal dialogue. Most depressed people will beat themselves up with a myriad of questions in a bid to understand why they are going through such an experience. If we flip the script on the questions we ask ourselves, we have a much higher probability of thriving through it.
Think of the challenge as a setup rather than a set back.
Invariably we all must suffer some hardships in life. Instead of falling into the abyss of self-pity and despair, ask how this hardship will help you grow. Rather than asking the question ‘what did I do to deserve this?’ get excited and ask ‘what I’m I being prepared for?’
Just as opportunity and good fortune meets us unexpectedly, so can calamity and misfortune. Life is known to throw complications our way when we least expect them. Timing does not matter. Always be prepared to hold the bull by its horns.
Remember, how you react to what life throws your way makes all the difference in determining whether your problems will overcome you or you will overcome them. Determination and perseverance is key if you are to defeat hopelessness and depression. With every obstacle you overcome, you are better prepared to take on more domain.
Ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away. It just makes them fester and grow into bigger, messier problems. Face the problem, learn what it has to teach, grow from it and turn that adversity into a positive benefit. The hard things in life are most definitely the best teachers. In every adversity is the seed of an equal or greater benefit. We just have to open our minds and open our hearts to see what we are being taught.
Where do I go from here?
Some calamities like the loss of a loved can leave one feeling too lost to move on with life. Understandably, some people are unable to pick themselves up. Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl reminds us that even in the midst of the most unimaginable horror and daily pain, we can opt not to stay trapped in hurt and loss. By focusing on something worth living for, we can find a way out of the most harrowing turmoils. As devastating as they can seem, often life’s tragedies can bring our biggest breakthroughs.
While psychology is not my field of expertise, my own life experiences led me to share my thoughts on this issue which affects us all. I would like to share these tips as a summary of how to fight the stress and fear which can ultimately lead to despair, dejection and despondence:
- Practice self-care.
- Be real with how you feel.
- Be OK with some things being out of your control. Always remember that life is subject to change, and with that, bad times will ultimately pass away. Let time heal your wounds.
- Practice mindfulness. Notice your emotions and the sensations you’re experiencing in the moment. Accept them in a nonjudgmental way and let them go. When we train our awareness we become less distracted by our own thinking, which allows us to enjoy our lives more, to be more present with people, and to see our world with greater clarity.
- Don’t figure things out by yourself. Ask for help. After all, it is said that a problem shared is a problem half-solved. When you have a support system — resources, support groups, counselors, coaches, fellow peers, family, friends — your chances of recovery are much quicker.
- Train your brain to stop the fear response. Remember, it’s the fear of fear you should fear.
- Focus on positive thoughts. Fill your days and nights with as many positive experiences as you can – find opportunities to laugh, spend time with friends or do the simple things you love.
In conclusion, when you find yourself overwhelmed, gripped by guilt, lost and confused, stressed and challenged, choose faith over fear.
Both are figments of our imagination. While either can drive you forward, fear often paralyzes, prevents you from taking action and leaves a trail of pain. Faith let’s you live with expectancy and work with a wide open heart. Isn’t that so much more fun?