One of my favorite lines comes from the song “Where I Belong” by Motion City Soundtrack, “… But this shitstorm’s neverending and the atmospheric pressure is calling for rain.” Sometimes there’s no escape from a particular problem or situation. So how do you care for yourself during a difficult situation? When my mentor, author of “The Art of Self-Nurturing: A Field Guide to Living with More Peace, Joy, and Meaning” Kelly Grimes, MSW asked what gifts came from the challenges I encountered my first thought was of the idea of rolling with resistance, a term used in Peer support. Resistance happens when the individual you are working with is being for a lack of a better word difficult. This is good because it shows that they have their own ideas for how their recovery should progress, making this a sign to listen and not judge. And this goes beyond our relationship with others, we can look to ourselves when handling difficult situations because we too are people who are looking to get our needs met.
So how do we listen to ourselves and not judge? The first step is to build a positive relationship with yourself. This can be achieved in many ways, some people prefer therapy, others through journaling about their self-discovery, and others may choose meditation. I however like to ask myself a few questions.
#1 What am I feeling right now?
This is a good one because I have trouble acknowledging my feelings and it also helps me to validate how I feel in the moment instead of going into problem-solving mode. If you are having trouble because you find yourself judging how you feel then try a follow-up of “what does my feeling change?” Feelings are temporary, like weather or the seasons, situations are like mountains or forests they may change, but it would take a whole lot of effort to do so. When I would get stuck in a situation a ton of feelings can come up, they were overwhelming, but when I acknowledge them then I can move past them.
#2 What can’t be changed?
As I mentioned before, feelings are the weather and situations are like forests. If you cut down the forest it doesn’t change the fact that it’s raining. I may have reacted to the situation, but if I let my feelings hold me for long enough it stops being about the situation. It will also cause me to have all this unnecessary stress on my body. What I need at this moment is to detach my emotions from the situation I can’t control. I need to focus on what I can control within it.
#3 What do I need for myself at this moment?
What can I do to help care for myself at the moment? A lot of time I neglect myself to care for others, even in difficult situations. So instead I try to care for myself. Not in a superficial, bubble bath and ice cream kind of way, but in a way that promotes real wellness and helps me to get past these hard feelings. Distraction is a tool, but it can’t be the only one in your toolbox. So I try to reach out to friends, go on a walk to clear my head, or take some deep breaths to keep myself level.
This three-step process helps me to develop my resiliency and cultivate some perspective on more difficult situations. I hope it gives you the gift of perspective if you are struggling with a difficult situation and need to find a way out of the chaos.