Resilience in the Long RunJune 16, 2021
‘R’ is for Remember You are Not AloneJune 30, 2021
This is the second in a series of seven posts in which I explore how to move forward when our journey is difficult. The previous post was an introduction. This is the first to go more in depth into each of the six TRUDGE practices for long-term resilience.
TRUDGE – being resilient as you move through a challenging time in your life. Not the bounce back kind but the “I’m going to keep moving toward my goals, no matter how hard” kind. Either you chose a new path, or life changed underfoot (or both). The goal is to keep moving forward in a positive direction while maintaining your ability to be resilient.
Challenging times are overwhelming and confusing. One way to manage this is to seek clarity particularly with yourself. This is not a one-time thing, but an ongoing part of coping with the situation. There are several areas in which to tell yourself the truth.
“I am fine.” to “This is the worst thing ever.” Probably neither are true. You are not fine: challenging times upset routines, sap energy, and present new obstacles. And this is likely not the “worst thing ever”, there are (tragically) worse things in the history of humanity. What are the bad, terrible, stressful, awful things about this time AND what are your strengths, resources, opportunities, and abilities?
“OK” is a rare state. Even if you are okay what flavor of okay are you? Calm, rested, numb, stoic, game face on? What if you are better than that? Energized, eager, happy, thrilled. Note: feelings show up when they do. It is normal to feel moments of pure joy in the middle of a terrible time and dread at just the point when everything is (finally) going your way. What if you are NOT OK? Sad, scared, angry, frustrated, annoyed. Allow yourself to feel how you feel. Journal, talk to a trusted person, take walks or long showers – whatever creates room for you to feel how you feel. If how you feel is hopeless, or defeated reach out for help. What range of feelings are you experiencing?
“…workable plans require accurate information.”
What Are Your Energy Levels?
How exhausted are you? Do you feel like someone slipped kryptonite into your pocket? As aggravating as it is, just as life is at its most demanding you may need to rest more or eat better. You may not feel you have time for it but sitting in nature, listening to music, or reading a light novel might be necessary in order to keep going. Be real about what you need, or you might find yourself with mono on top of whatever is already going on in your life. What do you need to keep up your energy?
Another layer of truth is checking in with reality. Denial is a strong defense mechanism that can shield you for a while, but it is not a place you want to live. Talk to some people with experience to find out the reality ahead of you. “I plan to have the divorce over in 6 months, my attorney says it takes longer but we are going to wrap this up.” Chances are your attorney is right. “I know my finances are a mess, but I haven’t really looked at the numbers.” The hard truth is that they aren’t going to get better through neglect. You may need to give yourself some time before you are ready to lay out the facts, but workable plans require accurate information. What do you need to know more about as you seek to move forward?
What Kind of Person Are You?
A big question. The truth is – a normal one. Yes, normal human beings find themselves in all kinds of challenging times on a regular basis. Bad things happen to good people. And smart people make dumb choices. I have made decisions that seemed like a good idea at the time only to turn out poorly due to information I didn’t have, or that didn’t seem relevant. I have also been so emotional and exhausted that my choices were not the best, but it was the best I had in that moment. You are not a helpless victim. You are not a terrible human being. You are a human experiencing a challenging time. How can you learn from your mistakes without beating yourself up over them?
Where Are You Getting Support?
If you are in a terrible mess don’t let others compound it by blaming and shaming you on a constant basis. Yes, you may have made mistakes. That was then, this is now. Meanwhile, you are working to move forward. Spend time with healthy people who can see that you are neither a helpless victim nor a villain. People can help you see the truth without being brutal and can support you in moving forward. Who helps you be truthful and kind to yourself?
Tools for managing this truth telling often need to be external, as there is only so much you can remember or process all at once. Options include a journal, ledger, spreadsheet, or wall of post it notes. Particularly hard truths may need time to surface. Writing down what you know, and any questions you have. Then take a break. Once the question has been stated, answers tend to surface while we are busy doing something else. Another resource is the habit of processing your thoughts with a trusted person. Perhaps a friend or a professional therapist or advisor. This post includes many questions which can be used as journal or conversation prompts in your journey.
The T, the truth telling, helps us plan for the trudge ahead of us as best as possible. How will you stop from time to time to reassess what you know about this part of your journey? What are the resources in and around you? What is your truth?
Laura A Gaines