In my profession as an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist, people generally don’t call on me unless they’re either headed for — or in — a full-blown crisis. After receiving such a call from a potential client this week, it got me thinking about the deeper meaning of life’s challenges and how we can navigate them.
Are you experiencing a state of brokenness that has sent you into a downward spiral?
- Being fired from a job
- Long-term unemployment
- A severed relationship
- A debilitating illness
- A life-changing accident
- The death of a loved one
- A business start-up that never took off
- An opportunity that fell flat
- A broken promise
- A failing grade
- Fill in the _______
Sometimes, we may feel that life has thrown us into the deepest end of the ocean, expecting us to swim back to the shores of safety without a life preserver. This may result in feelings of bitterness, resentment, anxiety, frustration, depression, and/or isolation. However, life’s challenges are inevitable and create opportunities for learning and growth… if we are willing to focus on the value, rather than the venom.
If you are in need of a little (or a lot of) inspiration, here are some ways to help shake off despair and climb out of your well-worn rut.
Break the cycle of negativity. Reacting to adversity in a dysfunctional manner such as denial, addiction, distortion, repression, or other numbing behavior only magnifies the situation, which can make matters worse. Negativity feeds a continuous cycle of destruction that keeps you stuck, so find ways to enhance your quality of life. Whether it’s meditating, changing your daily routine, learning something new, spending time with family or friends, or getting outside to enjoy nature, do something that will create a shift in your thoughts and actions.
Find the lesson. With every challenge comes a lesson to be learned. The sooner you accept the lesson and learn from it, the sooner you can graduate to the next phase of your life. To find the lesson, ask yourself “What is this situation here to teach me? Then listen for the answer.
Surround yourself with support. During challenging times, we all need the comfort and wisdom of a strong social support system. This is anyone that you can trust for sound advice, counsel and emotional support. Having a confidant who understands what you’re going through without sitting in judgment can help alleviate raw emotion, so that you’re better able to deal with the situation.
Give thanks. While life may not be the way you want it at this moment, you are still here. Know that the Universe has a larger plan for you, and what you’re going through is a part of that plan to help you reach higher ground.
Be realistic. There’s an old song entitled, Trouble Don’t Last Always. Just as the seasons change, so do the cycles of life. Use the wisdom of nature to persevere and grow through life’s inevitable highs and lows.
Brokenness is the starting point for rebuilding. For many, it’s the only way to experience healing, restoration and the deeper meaning of life. Without brokenness, we’re likely to remain in a state of self-sufficiency, living on the periphery of life never acknowledging a power greater than ourselves.
In closing, I echo the words of M. Scott Peck, M.D., author of the timeless classic The Road Less Traveled: “The truth is that our finest moments are likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
Until Next Time,