Tools for Tough Times: Step By Step

How can we transit the difficult times in our lives, with a greater opportunity to thrive?  We do this step by step.  Here are a few steps you can take now or later this week that may help you to thrive.

1.  Recognize when you are experiencing loss, including ambiguous loss.  For many, the pandemic has led to significant losses in many areas of living.  And these losses have happened at once.  Recognizing the losses for what they are opens the door to healthy grieving, eventual resolution, and recover. 

2.  Learn and grow in every day.  John Maxwell told us, “Facing difficulties is inevitable, learning from them is optional.”  Good questions help us here. “What is going well for me right now, and what can I learn from it?”  “Who around me is doing a good job, and what can I learn from this?”  “I have hope and blessings I have not been remembering – what are these?”  “What is one thing I can do right now to up my game and contribute strength?”

3.  Be kind to yourself.  Make time and a plan to do those things to help you thrive.  A walk outside or make time with a helpful friend?  Filling a page or two with gratitude thoughts and expressing such to others?  Forgiving yourself or another person?  Journal the ways in which you have grown or overcome or gained strength in the last month?

4.  Express love and caring.  Appropriate touches help both creatures involved, so hug the kids and/or the dog long and deep.  Hold someone’s hand.  Help someone with a task or duty.  Speak gently and kindly to people.  You will gain as much as the other person when you do.

5.  Remember to live by your faith.  One’s faith can guide thinking and emotions toward thriving as it focuses on positive sources.  Letting faith be a primary influence for our thinking has been shown to increase positivity, reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve wellbeing.

6.  Connect.  You will struggle to thrive if you think you’re an island.  Establishing, strengthening, and leveraging healthy connections is critical to surviving difficulty.  Lone wolves struggle to survive.  Unhealthy connections drain, not sustain. Likewise, disconnection drains and does not sustain.  If you have lost connectedness, seek to restore or build healthy relationships.  Little steps work.  Stop to talk.  Make the call or send the text.  Stop by or drop in.  Make the appointment.  Leave the note.  Say hello.  Smile.

7.  Be generous. Giving brings joy for the generous person as much as receiving.  So give thanks, comfort, and appreciation.  Give time and energy.  Give grace, forgiveness, and restoration.  Give hope and encouragement.  Give happiness and humor.  You can even give using money – pay for someone’s coffee or lunch without them knowing it, give a gift, give instead of lend.

Image via author, Dark Canyon, Bears Ears Notional Monument, Utah

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