Tree analogies aside, (i.e., strength of the oak vs. the pliability of the ash or willow) when it comes to surviving LIFE’s harsher realities in general, you need a game plan. And usually early in school, those types of LIFE STRATEGIES aren’t stressed because few teachers want to discuss these personally difficult subjects—probably because they witness daily too many students already experiencing them at their young ages.
What I would most like to do in this blog is to provide perspectives that offer options for you—strategies NOT for “coping” with whatever you must face down in your life, but for successfully “dealing with and progressively moving past” whatever challenges LIFE throws your way because that is how you learn to bend, without breaking.
When your life falls apart for whatever reason that it does due to deaths, Illness, accidents, disappointments, lost loves, career jolts, etc., you simply stop for a moment or a day or a week—whatever time you need—and acknowledge that no matter what awful thing has just occurred in your life, you are still here in this world and you have to somehow move forward from this point onward. Your simple task now is to figure out how to do it. That is what I call defining/adopting your “moving forward” LIFE strategy.
I strongly dislike the often-touted, employee-manipulation slogan that corporate America uses to encourage their workers to “develop better coping abilities” for their lives, because “coping” means to pretend that the awful thing you are currently enduring is acceptable to the human condition if you can just anesthetize yourself in some way to the awfulness that it actually represents, directly or indirectly, in your life.
There are numerous pills, booze, drugs, etc., all designed to COPE with LIFE’s unfairness or unpleasantness in general. None of them will actually move you out of an untenable situation. They will simply make you stew longer in your own desperation and despair.
The insidiousness of coping strategies is the more frequently that you use them, the longer they make you feel more helpless and beyond hope for a better solution to the dilemma you are now facing; which means that if you are too distracted or numb inside to think about the horrible state of affairs that you are currently enduring, then maybe the awful mess that you are working so hard to suppress from your consciousness, will magically go away.
Except it won’t; and it doesn’t. Coping strategies feed on our own self-delusions and our tendencies toward avoiding problems or life’s unpleasantness because we don’t like thinking about them.
Coping gets you nowhere other than exactly where you last were when you first tried to blot out the horrid situation or circumstances from your mind.
That is NOT successfully surviving the difficult challenge that you might be currently facing, nor is it demonstrating the essential bendability necessary for you to move beyond the awfulness of your present moment. All coping succeeds in doing is to delude yourself that those pills, drugs, booze or whatever else you might use to pretend this unpleasantness isn’t happening to you, can help you endure the situation until circumstances magically change for the better in the future. It’s like believing that if you are patient enough FATE will eventually smile on you and suddenly right the current wrong on your behalf that you are feeling.
I would hate to guess the statistics in your favor on waiting for FATE to shift things to your benefit. FATE has its own timeline, and sometimes it doesn’t match up to ours. While you might eventually wait out an unpleasant situation, you can’t outlast a hazardous-to-your-health one; and stress can be an insidious killer.
But consider this option instead: Rather than simply ‘coping’ with a bad set of circumstances, shift your perspective on what you are actually experiencing to better see ALL the choices that might be available to you IF you simply changed your current behaviors in one or two important ways.
Being bendable means to reassess the stressful condition that you are facing from a more rational (less emotional) perspective to truly understand: 1) why you are facing it at present, 2) to determine what you must do to move beyond the current situation and its horrid effect on your life, and 3) determine how you can develop a strategy for either moving around or climbing over the boulder now blocking your path to happiness and a better life.
Being bendable means to be strategic, but not stupid.
Assess your true options. Ask for input from counselors or professional advisors on how to improve your choices for a better life. Then strategize a way to move beyond the limitations of your current situation by taking solid steps to your personal improvement, and by listing a future goal that would signify your success once achieved. It could involve additional training or further education in a field of choice more appealing than your present employment. (Example: I went back to grad school at age 40 to get my Masters in English. I worked my regular Graphic Artist job full time while attending classes at night and weekends, and gave up vacations for two-week intensives on certain subjects. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t cheap with my limited income, but I did eventually achieve my goal. So I know it is possible to do this and change your life for the better with some extra personal effort and the determination to do so.)
And yes, there will always be some type of challenge to your happiness, present or future, because that is simply LIFE. LIFE is meant to challenge us—because creatively meeting that challenge is how we grow.
Your choice is to decide what core essentials you truly want in your LIFE and what type of person do you truly wish to be, then determine how best you can make your life count to not only help yourself to a better life, but also help make ALL of our lives better in some way by improving your own outlook and attitude, because actually we’re all in this LIFE together, even though we may feel isolated and alone much of the time.
Making your life and ALL of our lives better in some way, is what finding your truth means, and that is WHY we are here. Together.