When a problem arises, you have two choices:
Focus on the problem or Focus on the solution.
It is so easy to get caught up in an overdue vent session. Venting about your work stressors, your finances, your relationship, your kids, your parents, etc., etc., etc. There is nothing unhealthy about unraveling after a long day. It only becomes unhealthy, when you get STUCK there. The difference? Unleashing doesn’t last 24 hours. Getting STUCK there does. Getting STUCK shifts your mood. It shifts your mood, into a not so great mood. The kind of mood that is irritable and difficult to be around. The kind of mood that is desperate to see a way out, but feels trapped. STUCK leads to difficulty managing whatever comes your way.
So how did we get to STUCK? Well there are many probable reasons, but one I know for sure is we tend to pull out our magnifying glass and zone in on the problem. We have a difficult time stepping outside of the box to take note on how these problems can actually change. We don’t realize that to most of our problems, there are solutions. I don’t blame you. This isn’t meant to stamp a guilt and shame tagline on your forehead. It’s meant to bring awareness to our ability to overcome our problems, if we could just shift our perspective. I truly believe everyone is equipped with tools. Sometimes they’re lost or heavily buried by a pile of junk, but they are there. It may take a helping hand to sort things out, but please know they are there.
One suggestion is to look back to a time that was particularly challenging. A time that created similar feelings of stress, anguish, disbelief, frustration and complete feelings of helplessness. Considering that you moved forward since then, what did you do then that helped you manage that stressor? Think small. Did you talk to someone about it? Did you run it out? Did you draw it out? Maybe you cried it out? What did you do? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Turn the wheel back to a time where you were able to overcome a challenging time and re-apply those tools.
There are a couple other things I particularly find helpful; gratitude and stepping back. When gratitude can be applied, a humbling experience can take place. Feeling grateful for the memories, or for the job that allows one to purchase a home, or children that so many others fight for, can help the stressor not appear as threatening. You see, when we run away from the problem our mind and body is protecting us from something it finds threatening. Our mind and body are running it’s natural course to protect. However, when we can meet that threat with a thank you, it can dissipate the intensity of the fear and so, we reduce that chance of getting STUCK.
Then there is stepping back. If you can put your magnifying glass away and step back to see the bigger picture you may be able to reframe and logically adapt to your situation. Instead of thinking, “I have to go to this horrid job,” you might say, “I get to own a home because of this job.” It’s simple once you get un-STUCK. However, it’s all about progress, not perfection. There will be many times our stressors will try to trap us, but please remind yourself of your inner and outer strengths, resources, and support that can help you to re-focus and problem solve.
Live mindfully, hopeful and persevere.
Until next time!
Claudia Stanley, LCSW