“I can be changed by what happens to me.
But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
How are you holding up?
These are hard times for so many people. It’s difficult to wrap my brain and heart around the myriad changes in our world and the suffering of so many. We are all challenged in this historic time to be resilient, to be changed by what happens but not to be reduced by it.
A favorite blogger of mine, Eric Barker, recently wrote about this, so I thought I would share some of his ideas in the hope that they might be as helpful to you as they are to me. I strongly urge you to read his complete post, but I’ll summarize a small part until you do.
First we need to give ourselves the gift of positive self-talk. Positive thoughts are not enough. When we can give ourselves verbal messages of hope and strength — such as “I can do this,” “I’m strong and resilient,” “This will get better,” — the words tend to stick. It also helps to verbalize our fears and anxiety if we follow that with mantras of endurance and strength.
Next, to be strong mentally we need to be strong physically. With so many of our usual ways of exercising impossible now, it’s become a challenge to keep moving. I find walking with Proman every morning both good for my body — “a walk a day keeps the virus away?” — and good for my soul. Having the opportunity to breathe fresh air, to listen to mockingbirds sing, and to move freely makes a big difference in my day.
Follow exercise with humor. Humor is the emotional equivalent of washing your hands to protect yourself. Every time we can find humor in a difficult situation we become stronger. Mark Twain wrote, “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” These days our television is often tuned to comedy specials on Netflix. It’s so cleansing just to enjoy a belly laugh every day.
And last—for this summary—foster meaning in your life. During a crisis we might ignore all the ifs, ands, and buts of religion and get down to the big questions of why we suffer and what is our purpose. The answers are many and varied, but in this time of uncertainty we have the opportunity to wrestle with the questions and form the answers that are right for us.
I hope this critical time in all our lives helps us develop resilience, and when better times are on the horizon, we can look back and feel glad and even proud that we learned how to pick ourselves up and move forward.