In my most recent post, I shared about being in the midst of uncertainties and the good news is we received desirable news shortly after that. It was such a huge relief and we are EXTREMELY grateful.
The truth of the matter is this is just one of the many hurdles that we need to overcome. Still, I am hopeful that with the right coping skills, we will be able to surmount all the challenges.
I believe that no one is immune from such circumstance and I wish to share with you some pointers on how to keep our sanity during those moments of uncertainties. Here are eight coping strategies that have helped me tremendously.
1. Stay in the present
Worries and anxieties are always present when the future is unknown. Our thoughts often get ahead of us and we imagine thousand and one negative scenarios and that further increase our worries and anxieties. The most effective way to deal with this demon is to remain the in the present and avoid jumping to conclusion prematurely.
Undeniably, this takes great discipline and the willingness to let go of the obsessive thoughts. Keep repeating to self that the future is not here.
Remind self that I do not know what the outcome is and there is no point in torturing myself by imagining the worst. All that I have is the present moment and I need to cherish it.
This quote rings true: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
2. Enhance your sense of self-efficacy
What this means is to recall your past struggles and how you have managed to overcome them. One of the most important lessons that I have learned from my illness is that human being is resilient, much more than we can ever imagine. Realise that you have the capacity to deal with the future because you have the knowledge, skills and resources within you. You only have to dig deep.
How can you be certain of this? Refer to your track record, namely your past triumphs. Self-efficacy enables us to have confidence and strength in dealing with known and unknown challenges.
When things are beyond our control, it is important to recognize them as moments of suffering and extend self-compassion. Feeling helpless is a difficult emotion. It is painful and it makes one feel diminished and useless. We feel vulnerable and lost. Bestow patience and kindness instead of judgment during this time and it will help one to cope better.
I found a very useful mantra from the book, Self-Compassion by Dr Kristin Neff. It goes like this:
This is a moment of suffering
Suffering is part of life
May I be kind to myself in this moment
May I give myself what I need
Meditating on this mantra allows me to remember that I am not alone in my suffering because everyone suffers and it is part of life. This awareness connects me to others who suffer and brings about a sense of universality. Very often we feel isolated and disconnected because we feel as though we are the only one who suffers, which is far from the truth.
The mantra also reminds me to give myself what I need in moment of suffering. If what I needed is a good cry, that's what I should do. If I needed a helping hand, I must have the courage to be vulnerable and ask for it.
4. Reach out and get support
This coping strategy has saved me time and again. I am also immensely grateful that I have found my tribe whom I know will be there for me at a moment's notice. Because I believe in the power of prayer, I often activate my prayer warriors to pray for us when we go through trials in life. Their support and prayer give me tremendous comfort and strength to keep going.
I firmly believe that I have not collapsed under all the anxiety and pressures because I know there are many who are praying for us. I count on their faith when mine is weak.
Many people choose to withdraw and isolate themselves when bad things happen. It is understandable because it's extremely hard to be vulnerable and weak. Yet, this is where the danger lies. The more isolated you are, the more likely your negative thoughts supersede the rational ones. Seek a confidante whom you can trust and open up. Bottling up is never a good solution.
5. Strengthen the connection with your spouse/loved ones
Crisis occasionally drives a wedge between couples but it need not be so. You can turn it into a great moment of connection. It is crucial to strengthen the connection and allow the other to know that you are there for him or her. Even when you do not agree on how to deal with the situation, be sure to show your respect and willingness to listen to his or her point of views.
Create an environment that is safe to share your deepest feelings and thoughts. Be generous and show compassion. As much as you can, support each other to the best of your ability and journey together in overcoming the obstacles.
6. Keep your routine
It is very tempting to give up your routine and just spend the time moping and being miserable. Based on my experience this is not only ineffective but a waste of time.
If the waiting period is long, make use of the time to do pleasurable activities. For example, we arranged to meet up with a group of friends for dinner and had such a lovely time that we momentarily forgot about the anxiety. Distraction is an effective tool, which is not only helpful in working with young children but adults too.
7. Count your blessings
I am a firm believer in the power of gratitude and positivity. When crisis presents itself, it is very easy to lose sight of what is going well in our lives. We still have each other and our friends, a roof over our head, good health and numerous blessings. Writing my gratitude list helps me see the bigger picture and fortifies my faith that things are going to be okay no matter what happens. It generates hope and optimism that help one to stay afloat.
The Serenity Prayer continues to be instrumental especially when I am dealing with uncertainties. It enables me to see what are the situations that are within my control and what actions I can take. At the same time, it reminds me that there are things that are beyond my control and I need to learn to trust and surrender.
I hope you will give some considerations to these strategies and give them a shot. You will only know if it is effective when you try it.
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