When I first learned to read, my Dad turned me loose in the children’s section of our public library. I was free to choose any book I wanted. I chose biographies, autobiographies, and other stories of people I thought of as heroes.
At a very young age I already knew my life was unusually painful and challenging. In retrospect, my simple logic was great. I wanted to know how people lived with and eventually overcame extreme circumstances.
Now I know "difficult life circumstances" are prevalent.
Many people believe people who thrive are heroes and extraordinary. That’s not exactly so.
Everyone can be a hero, exceptional and thrive no matter what life throws at you. If you seek a hero-making set of skills and experiences, you too can bounce back from whatever happens to you.
Here are some skills.
- Find a community of caring people.
Community helps you share your burden. Feel less isolated and alone. Maybe you have supportive family and friends. But also, there are many face-to-face and online self-help groups that provide community. In the 1990s when my last husband was dying at home with hospice care, I found a caregivers’ group on AOL. Today you have many choices.
Three different people who had been the victims of serious violent crimes were referred to my private practice in the late 1980s but did not need therapy for PTSD. I learned that each person had a community of caring people around them. They also talked and talked and talked about their experience. And overcame what could have crippled their lives.
If you don’t start out with self-esteem, you can develop it during a tragedy by finding a community of people who like you, using positive thinking and positive self-talk. You can counter any feelings of inadequacy with positive statements.
Self-efficacy is your belief in your ability to accomplish what you set out to achieve whether you succeed or not. To keep this mentality, I use pep talk kinds of mental voices. Some examples are “You can do this!” “Don’t quit!” “Keep going!” “It’ll be okay!”
There was a fire in 1988 in a very tall bank building in Los Angeles, California. Forty people died. People were trapped on the top floor of the building. They tried to save themselves in a variety of ways but failed. They were eventually rescued.
On the other hand, another group of people ran into stairwells and waited to die in them. Instead of dying, their actions saved their lives. The people who failed but believed they could succeed had no symptoms of PTSD afterward, but the people who succeeded yet thought they were failures had massive symptoms months later.
Every serious life challenge has its own set of required skills. It’s frustrating, but almost always, the skills I need to face today’s challenge are ones I do not have.
We all have our own unique ways of learning. I read. These days I search the Internet for what I need and understand there. I used to go to the library or a bookstore. My husband learns differently and uses YouTube videos to access what he needs to learn. Other people find experts for help: Therapists, Consultants, Educators, and Coaches.
This has been a brief column on overcoming difficult and painful life experiences. If you want more help with this, write me with questions you’d like me to answer. I can always write another column to answer questions.
If you’d like more help, please call my office to make an appointment for Personal Life Coaching for yourself, your family or your child at (615) 464-3791. I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation to assess if I can be helpful.
I’d love to hear from you!