In difficult times there is no shame in just surviving. In fact, I agree with the song, "I'm a survivor, I'm gonna make it..." In my mind Surviving means to cling with all the tenacity you possess, starting to slide, fingernails digging into whatever you can reach, the branch on the edge of the cliff you're sliding into, the tiny crack in the bricks of the skyscraper where an earthquake threw you. (The examples, of course, are figurative.) To be literal, let me use these examples. Your spouse is dying, your finances are a total snarly mess, your kids are quarreling all the time because of the stress caused by your spouse dying, or you are dying, or your child is dying, or you all are dying! In these situations surviving may be the very best that you can do.
On the other hand, I wish to suggest a better way. Is it possible to THRIVE in the midst of gut clenching, earth shaking challenge? My answer would be yes, well not only yes but ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY YES!
Do you need to be delusional to THRIVE in such a horrific time of challenge? I think it's more of a delusion to let crisis and terror take any and all joy out of your life. Oh I'm not suggesting that you think, "Somebody I love is dying? I'm so HAPPY!" That is called psychosis, or a total disconnect from reality.
There is a darling movie out right now called "Inside Out." I love this movie. It speaks to how our brains work. It even suggests that emotions we consider, negative, can achieve a positive result. For example, again, your spouse or family member is dying...OF COURSE YOU FEEL SAD! There is a quote that says, "Sorrow is the price for great love." Is it possible to use this sorrow to thrive? Yes. Is it easy? NOT EVEN CLOSE.
The older I get, the more I realize that the things that have mattered the most in my life, family, faith, friends, have NOT been easy. They have been richly rewarding. Indeed, I think that the things that matter the most in our lives do NOT come easily. This process of experiencing pain, sorrow, disgust, fear, has precious lessons to teach us. The kindest, most loving people that I have ever met have faced some of the hardest challenges that life can offer.
One example was my beloved friend that had a son die in a robbery. He was one of the robbers. To have a beloved child die while causing great suffering to others? I don't think anyone would disagree that this would be an enormous weight of sorrow pressing you down into the ground.
She used her sorrow to drive her to be more compassionate. I was one of the grateful recipients of her loving and giving, In other words, she thrived in spite of this horrific experience.
I wish to suggest a few methods that have helped me to THRIVE when SURVIVING seemed my only option.
1. Prayer or meditation. However you perceive God, or whatever name you use to address Him or Her, science has shown a significant positive power in the use of prayer. If you don't believe in God slow down and meditate. Whatever method works for you, quiet your mind. Do this as often as your sorrow threatens to suck you into a giant vacuum of grief and pain.
2. Reach out! Getting professional help can be extremely beneficial in times of extreme challenge. Sometimes you have to shop around to find the right "fit," for this clinician. For example, one therapist actually said to me in a time of huge crisis, "I don't have anything to help you. You are welcome to come and cry if that helps." REALLY? REALLY? I'm going to pay money to come and feel worse when I leave? Wrong fit.
3. FAMILY/FRIENDS are usually wonderful sources of love and support. They can't read your mind so call them when you need them!
4. Read only uplifting material. Watch only uplifting material on the TV or computer. It's no secret that connecting with upbeat positive ideas can lift your soul...ESPECIALLY in the hardest times of life.
5. At least daily but more if needed do powerful visualizations. Example? Imagine an enormous sink. Now go through your problems one at a time. Take each problem, one by one, and put it in the enormous sink. Now you will turn on the water and watch all those problems, those struggles wash down, down, down, the sink and disappear down the drain.
6. Throw a potluck party. Invite all your family/friends to come. It can be a theme party where everyone comes dressed like their favorite movie/book character. Parties are excellent ways of connecting and celebrating the best in life when the worst in life is walking with you.
6. Serve others! There are as many ways of reaching out to others as there are people. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, non-profit organization, your church, a foodbank...the list goes on and on. It's amazing how your problems seem lighter when serving others.
As usual my post has helped ME tremendously. I hope that it can help someone, somewhere out in the blogosphere. Remember, none of us needs to be alone! One of the best things to understand in this life is, troubles come, but they also go! Cling to the reality of this idea. Problems will come but you can do more than just survive them. You can thrive in spite of them!