How To Grow Through What You Go Through
This year it seems like there is a new crisis around every corner. It’s all of the big things impacting us layered on top of all of the personal things we we continue to deal with. Sometimes it can feel like too much, like there is no end in sight or solution. On the other hand, I’m learning that in the darkest, hardest days, there can be little slivers of light that can lead to personal growth.
What does it really look like to grow through the things you go through? Is it possible to come out stronger on the other side instead of just tired, drained, and ready to give up? It is possible, absolutely!
How To Grow Through What You Go Through
Growth is hard. It takes a lot of work to not get stuck feeling sorry for yourself when everything seems to be falling apart. These things have helped me push forward this year and become even stronger.
I’ve found there are a few things that must be acknowledged in order to grow.
First, you have to acknowledge the tough things that are happening.
It’s impossible to grow, to change, to overcome when you can’t admit (even to yourself) that something is happening. As silly as it sounds, it can help to stand in front of a mirror. Speak it, and acknowledge it out loud to yourself. “____ is happening right now. This is real. I will get through it.” Once you can say it to yourself, you will have an easier time saying it to someone else, whether it’s a trusted friend or someone who you confide in.
Second, you have to acknowledge your feelings about what is happening.
I’ve been surprised many times this year to learn that sometimes what seems like sadness can really be fear or a level of frustration. In the event you are experiencing grief, feelings can contribute to the grieving process (whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or even the loss of something far less tangible). Therefore, you can’t deal with feelings you don’t identify. It’s important to allow yourself the ability to dig deep into your feelings and accept them. Of course, it doesn’t mean you have to wallow in them forever – you can feel them, experience them, and then deal with them.
Third, you have to acknowledge what power you have in the situation (and the power you lack, too).
At times you have a lot of power, and you can certainly (if not easily) change something that is going wrong. But in other situations, you have very little power to change much of anything. In those moments, the only power you may have is the power to control the way you react. Whenever, use that power.
Resilience is built through learning and how to adapt and overcome hard personal effects. At the same time, I think we have all built up some resilience, or at least the possibility of resilience, as we have faced a global pandemic. Each time you survive a major change, upset, loss, or trauma, you can gain strength.
Here are a few things that can help you build resilience:
- Reach out. It’s so easy to withdraw when things are going badly, but that is often the exact opposite of what you need to do. If you don’t already have supportive friends, this is the time to build a tight circle of friends who can help to support each other. Allow yourself to ask for help.
- Avoid negative people. Be careful where you invest your time and with whom you share your obstacles. Supportive friends love you and help you find solutions. Negative people help you wallow and pull you down. Pay attention to how you feel after you spend time with a person. If you regularly feel more stressed, anxious, panicky, or hopeless, that’s not a positive relationship for you. Don’t spend time with people who hold you down instead of helping you to bounce back.
- Focus on Wellness. Take care of yourself. Focus on eating well and integrating exercise into your day. It’s harder to cope with tough situations when you are run down and in poor health.
- Be purposeful. Look at your situation with a strategic eye – what can you do to make a difference? How can you take initiative? Identify small steps that will lead you in the direction you want to go. Don’t just apply this to tough situations, apply it to everything in your life. How can you be purposeful about serving your community? How can you be purposeful about excelling at your job? How can you be purposeful at making time for the things that are important to you? As you learn how to be in control of your life, you will be better equipped to stand strong when things that aren’t in your control hit you. It doesn’t mean that tough things won’t happen, it just means you will be better prepared when they do.
- Affirm yourself. Daily affirmations can feel a little silly, but they do work. Come up with some simple phrases you can repeat to yourself each day. Things like: “I am safe in this moment.” or “_____ does not define me.” or “I deserve good things.” or “I am stronger than I feel.” Everyone needs a good pep talk now and again.
Make a Record
Lastly, it’s important to make a record of the things that happen, the feelings you feel, the steps you take (noting which ones work and which ones don’t), and the act of overcoming. You can make this record any way you like. For me, it’s writing. Through writing, I’m able to better identify my feelings. More important, I can start to identify patterns and see what is working for me and what isn’t. I can go back and look at what was happening a month ago, six months ago, a year ago, and remind myself how far I have come. It helps to remind yourself you have overcome tough things in the past and you are strong enough to overcome more tough things now.
Finally, writing can give you the opportunity to look at the situation you are in from the outside and analyze it in a different way. But it doesn’t just have to be writing. You might find photography is an outlet that is helpful for you. Or maybe you are more verbal, and it’s easier to speak a journal into a memo app on your phone. Try different things and allow yourself to get creative. Take regular opportunities to make a record of the things you are going through, so you can look back and see how much you have grown when you get to the other side. Furthermore, take the time to celebrate the growth. You worked hard for it.