We all have problems that cause us great angst. An adult child may be battling substance abuse. A beloved spouse has received a horrific diagnosis. The boss says next week will be your last.
Each of these knocks the wind out of our psychic sails. We’re thrown into a tailspin. They consume our thoughts and energy. It’s difficult to sleep. We worry life is over. We’ll never be happy again.
At the same time, we know quitting isn’t an option. Somehow, we have to pull through.
That process has to start now. We can’t wait until all the headaches are over. That’s never going to happen. As soon as one difficulty’s settled, another crops up to take its place.
Troubles are also relative. What seemed earth-shattering in our 20s feels silly compared with crises later on.
Instead, we have to live in spite of the curveballs. We must eke out joy wherever it can be found.
It might arrive at unexpected moments. When my mother was being treated for cancer, I attended radiation treatments with her. A fellow patient shared funny stories about his illness that had us howling with delight.
Joy may already be under your nose. Your lifelong passion for working in your garden is the perfect antidote for your shattered nerves.
It’s also important to contain the emotional damage. No matter how traumatic the current stressor, some facets of your life remain the same. After a tree branch falls on your car, you’re grateful that no one was injured and that insurance will help pay for the damage.
Identifying intact areas minimizes the chances that you’ll feel overwhelmed. You’ll see quickly that all is not lost. Lots of your life is OK.
You may even wish to quantify what percentage of your life is in upheaval and what’s still firm as bedrock.
Avoid the temptation to be dramatic and think “Everything’s a total mess.”
If you’re honest, you might acknowledge that, say, 20 percent of your well-being is affected. Everything else is good to go.
That sameness is like an old friend; when you engage in those familiar activities, you feel safe. You’re personally in charge.
No doubt, there’s still chaos. You’ll carry on.
LIVING THROUGH CRISIS
Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit http://lindalewisgriffith.com.