In an era where we see so much negative stuff going on: self loathing/hate, bullying, mass shootings, failing morality in the political system, selfishness, broken hearts, broken families, etc., it really is easy to get bogged down with the weight of it all and and wonder how one might be able to slowly crawl forward, inch by inch, every day.
I want to talk about a few key principles that I think can help someone stay strong and resilient through the tough times. But first what does it mean to be resilient?
So after compression, pain, or difficult conditions, can we spring or bounce back? Can we recover? How do we stay positive when pain and devastation strike our personal lives or someone we deeply care about?
This isn’t just “Hey, get over it. Everything happens for a reason.” Who likes to hear that when they are crying in a ball on their bathroom floor? It’s not even a biblical quote! So stop saying it! However, faith is this idea in the midst of pain that, “yes, this freakin totally completely sucks, and it will suck for a while, but I need to believe that I will get through it. I will cry. I will be angry. I will need support. and help. and maybe even therapy. BUT- I will also learn from it. I will grow stronger. I will have more empathy and compassion in the end. I will be able to use this lesson in my future.” This is something you believe in when you can’t see any of the light. In Religion and Spirituality, faith is trusting in something bigger than yourself- that some creator/God has a good plan even despite any free will that might change the amount of time it takes to get there. I have had my heart broken a fair amount of times. My grandmother passed away a few years back. Sucky stuff happens in life. Will I have faith in myself to get through it, faith in my community to support me, and God to be my rock when the rest of my life is unstable? Faith says, “I can’t see the light yet, but I will believe it is there, and that I can reach it.”
Hope is so tough to have when you are heart broken, or angry, or depressed, or scared. When you don’t know what’s next, or if your past has shown you that things don’t work out the way you want them to, then why hope at all? Are you not just setting yourself up to get crushed next time? All I know is that whether something crappy actually happens, or if you are living in fear of the worst case scenario happening, then either way your life will be more pain and struggle-town, and less fun and joy-filled-city. If you are living in fear of something that hasn’t actually happened, then you are actually living in a way that is less authentic than real life. It’s not real so why live in a negative moment that isn’t truth. Hope, on the other hand, brings excitement, a flutter to your heart, smiles, conversation, and if you are honest about your hopes with someone else, then they can be there to celebrate with you when your dreams become true, or love and support you if it doesn’t work out. Either way, a hope is fulfilled- dreams came true, or connections were made. Call me an enthusiast or optimist, but hope drives out dread, skepticism, anger, and brings in light, connection, motivation.
Such a powerful word with a million definitions:
“I love you”, “I’m in love with you”, “Love ya, I love pizza!” Feels good on the ears- great to hear. We are all pretty exceptional creatures at offering love to someone else out there: a significant other, family member, friend, humanity… and I truly believe that being willing to be honest and vulnerable and ask for help and RECEIVE LOVE FROM OTHERS is imperative to resilience and moving through pain. Some of the most painful memories in my entire life are also some of the moments when I felt the most supported and cared for in all of my life by people who love me.
I also believe that if you can GIVE LOVE TO OTHERS when you are experiencing personal hardship and pain, it is one of the ways to best lead yourself out of the dark. Getting outside of yourself and your own story and being in relationship with other people and offering yourself to other’s needs is a beautiful way to illuminate perspective.
But when it comes to life’s deepest pain:
LOVING YOURSELF and giving yourself the space to just grieve. Be compassionate with yourself. Allow yourself to open the floodgates of emotion, ask for help. Love yourself – if even just for a few days or weeks- completely unconditionally- with no expectations, with grace to just be who you are in your pain.
I wish I had a magic wand to erase the trials in my life, in your life, in the world. As a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and trauma, I talk with people about heartache, hopelessness, and pain every day. It’s tough, but pain and disorder is a part of life. Never the fun part, but a reality none the less. My ability to sit with clients in the mire and muck yet simultaneously help clients turn toward faith, hope, and love, makes me optimistic that I am an effective therapist and hopefully a good fit for many. http://www.WendyLMFT.com . Also, Look out for my next blog post which will be about Keeping the FAITH, HOPE, & LOVE in the midst of eating disorder struggles.
To quote the bible here because no matter what you believe, this is very simple, practical, helpful, and yet, transcendent. Let this speak to your soul in times of pain and my desire for you, for me, is to embody this every day:
“FAITH. HOPE. LOVE. And the greatest of these is LOVE.”