There are times in each of our lives when we feel like the walls are closing in. Stressors from home, relationships, finances, work, family, and health all take a toll on our mental well being.
I had a bad habit of running from my problems and just trying to “start again” rather than face them with strength. I had to learn how I process conflict, how to calmly regroup, and resolve to face situations rather than run away from my problems. By doing this, I found an inner strength which has led to deeper relationships with the ones that I love. These are some of the ways that I was able to move forward.
It is rare that anyone will accomplish anything without a lot of work, which sometimes means suffering through tedious and uncomfortable things.
Well that sounds like a horrible statement, but it’s true! When was the last time you were able to accomplish anything without sacrifice? Did you walk into your dream job without education or experience? Were you able to lose 20 pounds without feeling pangs of hunger or refusing chocolate cake? Nope.
Mental health is the same way. In order to get stronger, you need to practice and embrace uncomfortable situations. Regroup if you need time away, but use a small amount of time to process your emotions and then have the difficult discussions. Or make a plan to attack the problem head on.
It takes time to be comfortable being uncomfortable! As with most things, start small so that when larger issues arise, you have a solid base. You can see one man’s journey “100 days of rejection” here:
Develop and Use a Support Network
Each situation is different and requires different types of support. Walking through a difficult time can be incredibly confusing and lonely, but it doesn’t have to be this way. There are other people out there who are on similar paths, who have made similar journeys, who are striving to accomplish the same goals you are.
Friends or family can be a good starting point, especially when you are trying to process what steps to take next. However, not all difficult times are appropriate to share only with friends or family. They love you and want to support you, however they may not have the necessary tools to be able to do so. In my experience, my friends and family were so closely connected with the situation that they felt they had to talk to both sides and chose who to believe or support, which was horrible.
Look for support groups in your area. This is usually a safe space to share your frustrations, learn from people who have gone through similar situations, and connect with others who are walking through difficult times too. It makes you realize that you are not alone and gives you strength to make wise choices to move forward.
You may need to turn to a professional for help. Online resources, local support groups, and professional therapists are available. They have the training and experience to help you walk through difficult times or even face them head on with insight and techniques in a non-judgmental way and outside of your social circle. They can also refer you to local resources if additional help is needed, such as social work, medical care, or even local authorities in some cases.
Develop a Plan with both Short and Long term Goals
Often times, running away from problems stems from fear. Fear of the future, fear of the unknown, and fear of the outcome. But instead of running from problems, attack them head on with education and planning. Again, this may be something to work with a professional to accomplish, but knowledge gives you confidence and strength to work through a tough situation!
For example, you find that you are struggling in a current work environment. But do you know why? Can you break it down into identifiable reasons? One way to deal with this situation rather than finding a new job, is to gather information!
Take a personality or work assessment test to determine your own strengths and best work environment. Keep a log of things that happen at work that make you feel stress or discontentment. Then evaluate each issue.
By developing short term and long term goals, you can stay on track and measure progress. Other people in your life can act as encouragement or motivation to keep you moving. And you can use a rewards system to keep yourself encouraged as well!
For actionable goal planning, read my post on SMART goals here! (coming soon)
Be discerning with your Social Network
Have you heard the saying ‘You are your friends’ or ‘Garbage in, garbage out’? Well studies have shown that this is true! If you are constantly around negative people, toxic situations, and bad influences, it affects your mood, attitude, and overall well-being!
You must take a long hard look at the people who are closest to you. You will have a much harder time confronting your problems and improving yourself if your surrounding network is thwarting your efforts.
Self improvement is something that is difficult but necessary. However, sometimes friends and family see you making personal changes and internalize it, feeling that you are somehow judging their lifestyle choices. This is because they may be in a different point in their lives and aren’t in a position to make changes and don’t want to feel guilty about it. And this is ok! But if you talk with them about your own desires to improve a situation and they are discouraging and even try to sabotage your efforts or make you feel badly about it, then they may not be the best person to have in your life.
Stop going to the bar if you are trying to decrease alcohol consumption. Stop going out to the designated smoking area to talk with your friends if you are trying to stop smoking. Stop checking Facebook if you get discouraged by how “perfect and easy” everyone else’s life seems.
By changing your situation and removing yourself from certain environments or triggers, you will naturally edit your friendships and influences. And this is important if those influences are negative or prevent you from attaining your goals, but just expect this to happen. Stand firm and choose to care for yourself and protect the good and positive changes in your life.
Make the Choice to Stand and fight
Every life change that is meaningful and permanent comes with challenges and hard work. It comes when you decide that enough is enough. It comes when you want to take control of your life and choose to live differently.
No matter how fast you run or how far you go, your problems catch up with you. They may have a different outer shell: a new job, new relationship, new social circle, but the underlying problems stay the same if we do not confront them!
You are stronger and more resilient than you think! If you want to make a change in your life, you can do it. Take baby steps, create an action plan, and embrace feeling uncomfortable. Feel free to reach out to me for advice! I would love to work with you through this.