I was recently conversing with a client about what he could do with the adversity that had been placed in his life. It was something that wasn’t going to be fixed right away, and a trial that required some perseverance, patience, and concerted effort on his part. As I listened to him speak, I remembered a story I had heard about the way Buffalo act when big storms are headed their way. I decided to share it with him.
The story was written by a man who grew up in Colorado, where he had witnessed that there is a noticeable difference in the way Buffalo and Cows face storms as they come rolling across the land there. Cows, he said, are scared of the storms and so they run away from them as fast as they can, usually ending up maximizing the amount of time they are with the storm because they move along with it as they run. Buffalo on the other hand, turn their bodies towards the storm and face right into it head on, minimizing the amount of time and frustration they experience because they are passing through it quicker to the other side. Notice the vastly different experience both animals have, even though they face the exact same storm, simply based on how they choose to respond.
Humans, he says, sometimes act in the same way when adversity arises. Whether we are dealing with a health issue, relational distress, or financial struggles, we do not get to choose to avoid whether or not we have storms, the only choice we have is when and how we will respond to them.
One of the factors that may influence when and how we respond to the storms in our lives (or trials) is something called anxiety. Anxiety can be a healthy emotion. It forces us to focus on our problems, and work hard to solve them. But sometimes, anxiety grows out of control and does just the opposite. It cripples our ability to solve problems. When this happens, irrational thoughts often play a role. Being able to catch those irrational thoughts, and replace them with rational alternatives takes practice, but can become a natural process that can help us manage our anxiety. This happens when we learn to embrace our trials and seek resolutions with a positive outlook.
Here are 7 ideas to assist in getting past tough situations quicker:
1. Acceptance-Make it an immediate priority to accept what has happened even though your feelings haven’t quite caught up yet. This will give you a starting point on working out possible solutions.
2. Fairness- Remove the world “fair” from your vocabulary. Life isn’t fair, and many bad things that happen to us (or around us) are out of our control anyway. When you start going on an “unfair” spiral, remind yourself that “it is what it is” and then choose a different reaction that aligns with your purpose to generate solutions.
3. Learning-Focus on the potential life lesson. What can you learn from this? How can it be something that ends up benefiting you? Focusing on the lesson allows you to work on positive change, which will make you feel empowered instead of deflated.
4. Is it as big as it seems?Sometimes our minds will catastrophize problems into larger issues than what they really are. Ask yourself; will this matter in 1 week from now, or in 1 month, or in 1 year. Remember that most situations can be solved, and some problems even turn out to be blessings in disguise.
5. Get Strong -Hard situations in life can make us feel like we’ve been knocked over by a big wave, so now is the time to dig deep into that place within you that knows you are capable, talented, skilled, and gifted with many abilities to do hard things. This will help you pick yourself back up and get strong again. Remember the Buffalo.
6. Forge a new road ahead-One of my favorite quotes says, “A bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless we fail to make the turn.” Sometimes adversity can make us feel like we are on a windy road. Don’t forget to look up ahead of you and make some necessary adjustments to stay on track, or, it might be necessary to forge a whole new pathway.
7. How would someone you respect handle the situation? When you don’t have the answers of what to do next, think of someone with integrity that you respect, and try to imagine what they would do.
Some problems are just too big for us to handle on our own, so we need to seek the advice of our closest relatives, friends, or even a skilled therapist who can walk with us on our journey through the storms of life, and help us come out of them even stronger than ever. If you would like some assistance on your journey, call our office at 801-432-0883 to set up an in-person or telehealth visit with one of our skilled professionals who would be happy to help you get started today.
Shellie Martin, MS, AMFT
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