Tuesday, January 3, 2017

     At 6:45 this morning, I said to Mr. Wonderful, “I feel so full of energy and excitement this morning!” He said, “I wish I felt that way.” I said that I think I got my Aunt’s genes. She had a disposition that so many admired. She was always up. She did scream and carry on when she was angry, but most of the time she was vivacious and fun, and her laughter would bring joy to your soul. I wake up almost every morning feeling blessed and energized ready to embrace the day. This is not to say that my life doesn’t have its share of crap; but it implies that resilience was woven into the fabric of my psyche so when the crises begin to surface, I face them armed with humor, strength and resolve. There have been times when the tears almost drowned me, but here I am still feeling blessed and energized. 

     How do you get through a crisis? One way is to look back at the ones you’ve already survived and realize that you did it before, you can do it again. Another way is to separate your problems into categories. Years ago, I went through a period of time when I labeled everything a crisis. The garage door didn’t work:  crisis. The basement flooded:  crisis. The scale said I gained two pounds after a week of starving myself:  crisis. I learned that these were just setbacks, not crises. My divorce was a crisis. My father’s death at 92 years old felt like a crisis, but even that tragic event was not really a crisis; it was inevitable and a blessing.

     I can’t tolerate people who are always so cheerful and never seem to have a problem. Many of these people are just putting on a happy face and pretending, hoping that the pretending will eventually turn into feeling cheerful. Even worse than these are the people who brag about how cheerful and happy they are. If you have to brag to me, you’re only trying to convince yourself. Interestingly, though, they say that if you are miserable, by pretending you can actually begin to feel better. The brain doesn’t recognize whether the signals are fake; it responds positively. 

     This morning, I know of a couple of people who are enduring serious crises. I pray for them, and I send them short messages of hope and support, as I have been in crisis mode, and it can be devastating. When you have an army of support, it helps to feel like you’re not fighting the battle all alone. Sometimes people endure multiple crises simultaneously. I have never understood how some escape with little tragedy in their lives, and others seem to be followed by it. That is how life is, though, and there’s no way to fight it. 

     A final way I have learned to deal with crisis is to know my own triggers. When I’m tired and not taking care of myself physically, mentally and emotionally, I am much more vulnerable to crisis. When I put myself in the company of toxic people, I am wearing down my emotional reserves. When I push myself too hard, I lower my resistance to mental clarity. When I fall into the comparison syndrome, I set myself up for self-defeating thoughts. These thoughts wear down my confidence and serve to allow me to frame things in the negative. Many crises come from the outside world:  disease, loss, accidents, natural disasters, crime. But the internal crises can be softened, if not avoided, by being aware of our own triggers and keeping our focus on the positive.

    Am I an expert? Of course not. I am simply one humble being who has lived longer than many and have learned from the experts along the way how to chart my course. If one idea helps you, pass it on. If you have some of your own, share them. We’re all in this together. The more we can help each other, the better our world will be.