Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dancing in the Rain

Life is hard. Over the last three years, my youngest son who deals with anxiety disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, learning disabilities and depression, has also been dealing with a debilitating physical illness. Recently, he received a diagnosis of ME/CFS, an autoimmune illness that is physically and cognitively draining that will be life-long with no cure.

Of course, we have been looking at all kinds of things to do that will help. I recently found this article written by Kimberly Giles on It is marvelous and I just had to share it. There is a link to the full article at the bottom of my blog.

Many of life’s challenges are impossibly hard and painful. Many of these problems have no answers, solutions or remedies. They are painful and they are going to stay painful for a long time. In this situation, with no escape available, your options are limited. For the most part, all you can do is work on choosing your attitude and mindset inside the challenge.

Vivian Greene said it best: "Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain."

Here are eight suggestions to help you dance in the rain (and find joy and peace) despite an impossibly hard challenge:

1. Accept what is.
"It is your resistance to 'what is' that causes your suffering," Buddha said. It is your wishing and wanting things to be different, that is the real cause of your pain. The problem is, life rarely meets our expectations, and more often it takes us in a direction we never saw coming.

2. Trust there is order in the universe and purpose and meaning in everything.
Choose to see the universe as a wise teacher, who knows what it’s doing. Choose to see life as a classroom whose objective is your learning ad growth. This would mean every experience you have is here to facilitate learning and make you smarter, stronger, wiser or more loving in some way. This means things don’t happen to you, they always happen for you.

Choosing to trust there is a purpose in your pain, does make you suffer less. I first learned this from reading about Viktor Frankl, who during intense suffering in the concentration camps of World War II, found if he chose to believe there was meaning in his suffering (that it was here for a reason) he not only suffered less, but also felt motivated to rise and get through in the best possible way. He wrote: “Suffering ceases to be suffering the moment it finds meaning.”

3. Focus on this present moment only.
If you try to process the weight of all the coming years of loneliness or pain, it will crush you. It is too much, too scary and too discouraging. So, set that weight down.

Focus only on this present moment or hour. Get through this hour choosing to be as positive and happy as possible. What can you do at this moment for yourself to relieve pain, create joy or just distract yourself?

You have great power in this moment to choose your mindset — it is actually the only time you have the power of choice at all.

4. Find a passion project.

During times suffering we can often find ourselves unproductive, stuck and useless. It helps if you can find a passion project of some kind that makes you feel fulfilled, productive, and accomplished. Even if it is just a journal or blog, a puzzle or a scrapbook. What could you do with your time instead of wallowing? Find something productive you can do.

5. Allow yourself limited pity party time.
It is natural during times of suffering and challenge to feel self-pity, sadness and grief. You should feel and experience these emotions, and not try to suppress them all the time. It is actually important you give yourself time to feel these feelings and have a good pity party or cry every once in a while, just don’t live there.

6. Lower your expectations.
When you are going through an impossibly hard experience at least half your brain power and energy are being used to process the trauma of the situation. This doesn’t leave you with enough bandwidth for all the other tasks or interests you usually do.

Go easy on yourself and expect less. Give yourself permission to have a messier house or get less done. Be realistic with the energy you have and say no to things you know will wipe you out. Give yourself permission to lower these expectations without any guilt.

7. Give up envy and wishing you had someone else’s life journey.
It is really easy to find yourself in a place of envy when your life is hard. It does seem unfair that other people get lives that seem easier than yours, but dwelling on this does you no good and in fact, will make you feel even worse.

8. Use this experience and the unique knowledge (on the human condition and suffering) it is giving you, to bless the world in some way.

Your misery can often become your message. If you suffer with chronic illness you could show others how to cope in a positive way. If you are a single mother, you could help newly divorced women handle their new reality with more joy. If you lose a loved one, you can be a resource to others who are suffering grief. There is always a way to use what has happened to you to make a difference in the world.

Every day is another chance to practice the power of choice, choosing joy, peace, happiness and laughter, and you don’t have to do it perfectly, just keep making progress.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
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Copyright of photo: halfpoint / 123RF Stock Photo

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