Gosh this sounds familiar, doesn't it? Life works much the same way, with our esteem wavering from our comparisons to others and internal insecurities. We feel alone, even though there are always others who can walk with us. Building strength and resilience sound important to enduring the inevitable hardships, but people rarely talk about what that looks like.
We need to work harder at helping others (and ourselves) see the options, for as Dr. Maraboli writes, "'life doesn't get easier." When one challenge is over, another will always take its place. So how do we best deal with this?
Here are my thoughts:
1. Acceptance. Get used to sharing the highs and lows of life (with other people or your journal), knowing that the only certainty in life is change. I find this truth to be incredibly empowering, as it forces me to live in the present.
2. Practice. Whether its getting out of bed, making healthier meals, writing more essays, or finding the good in others - repetition creates normalcy. When people left behind talk about hating their "new normal" - the life without their loved one - they are often in the first few years of grief. As time goes on, different experiences and people force a new life.
3. Distraction. Music, walks in nature, TV, books, games, art etc. are ways to pass time and let our minds de-clutter and refocus. No one can keep going with breaks. Realizing this helps us recognize our limitations and needed life balance.
4. Kindness. Be open-minded for yourself and with others. Everyone has a story and lessons to share. When we step outside of ourselves and listen to the wisdom around us, we can be fed with the strength of our community.
5. Reflection. When we take time to evaluate what we know, how we behave, and what we value NOW versus years ago, we can be inspired by our progress. It's the best way to review what we've learned and make decisions concerning the future.
Perhaps the most important lesson I've learned to build strength and resilience in the years since my husband passed is this: Tears are a big part of it. They show the depth of emotion, the refusal to "put on a happy face" and be fake, the frustration from working hard, and the joy when pure happiness is found again.
Further, I know that just because I've gone through trauma and loss before, I am not immune to it in the future. That's scary sometimes, yet it calls me back to acceptance of life's roller coaster and my only good choice: to live in the present with honor and compassion. It matters more to me that I live well than that I seek happiness.