Saturday, December 12, 2009

How to Deal

Right now I am struggling with a few issues. A couple of my relationships are not as strong as I would like them be. I'm not sure whether my life is going the direction it should, and I sometimes feel lost and confused. I find myself unable to change many of the problems I see in the world around me and in the lives of the people I love. Sometimes these issues can pile up in my heart and my mind until they become difficult to handle. Occasionally I feel depressed or hopeless when I think of the problems I face and the hardships that plague those around me. I have some coping strategies in place for when the hard times come, and now seems like an excellent time to review them.
  • Don't bottle it up. If I try to keep my negative feelings inside, I can never really get rid of them. I have to allow myself to be sad and to be angry so that I can get those feelings out of my system. I need to find a safe environment where I'm allowed to cry, and I need to be able to go off by myself and yell if I need to. If I don't want these feelings to leak out all over my everyday life, I need to be sure that I'm providing myself with opportunities to vent.
  • Calm down before deciding what to do. I need to let my feelings out and then allow myself to recover before I can make a calm and rational decision about how to deal with my problems. Sometimes I need to sleep on it. Sometimes I need to distract myself by doing something else for a while so that I can approach the issue from a fresh perspective. Sometimes I need to go immerse myself in a part of my life that's going well so that I feel strong and calm enough to deal with my problems afterward. If I'm still sunk in anger or despair, I won't be able to make a very level-headed decision.
  • Remember what to do when lost. Being emotionally lost can sometimes be like being lost in the woods. I don't want to just start running around making blind choices, because then I might get even more lost. Panic won't help me, and just doing something might make things worse. Instead, I need to try to find a point of reference. In the woods I would look for landmarks, and in my spiritual life I look at the Bible. I try to see if Scripture can teach me anything about what I should do. Then I need to listen for searchers and respond to them. That means I need to listen for God and try to discern what the Holy Spirit wants me to do. I need to pay attention to the wise people in my life and see if they have lessons to teach me that apply to my current struggles. Rescuing oneself from the woods is a long shot, and I know that I will also probably need God to come and find me when I get myself emotionally lost.
  • Don't judge feelings. When I get down, I often feel even more depressed because it seems wrong for me to be sad. I feel ungrateful for ever feeling disappointed or stressed when I have so many blessings in my life. Why should I feel so hurt about a couple of strained relationships when I have so many good ones? Why should I worry about problems when there is so much right in my life right now? Still, I understand that negative feelings are a part of life, so I shouldn't punish myself for them. Being sad about things that are wrong doesn't negate the joy I feel for the things that are right. It would be wrong for me to let sadness or anger consume me, but feeling them in moderate amounts is a normal part of life. Having negative feelings helps me to identify the problems I need to address, so it's not completely wrong for me to feel this way.
  • Remember the good while dealing with the bad. I know that it's OK to feel sad or frustrated about my problems, but I don't want to get completely sucked in. Just because a few things are going wrong doesn't mean my entire life is a disaster. There are plenty of things going right for me too, and I shouldn't forget those while I deal with the things that aren't so great. Problems are a part of life, but they aren't my whole life. I shouldn't despair because there is good along with the bad.
  • Nothing can separate me from the love of God. No matter how bad things get, it's never hopeless. I may be lost, but not to God. I may feel useless, but God still loves me. I may find myself in a desperate situation, but God will be with me. In the end, God will save me and carry me home to Heaven, and nothing that goes wrong in my life has the power to change that.

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