Let’s face it, life can be REALLY challenging and hard at times:
- Parenting is hard.
- Dealing with aging parents is hard.
- Creating harmony between our personal and professional lives can be hard.
- Navigating the constant disruption in our world is hard.
- Even asking for and accepting help can be hard.
So what do you do when life gets hard?
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. So many of these challenges – and more – surface daily with the leaders and teams we are fortunate to support; there’s something almost universal in the things that make life challenging at times.
Realizing that has also helped me navigate challenges. And there have been A LOT lately…
- I’m the proud parent of a 12-year-old son. And, although he really is a good kid, this age is tough with the middle school drama, hormones, emotions and more.
- My husband and I are both dealing with the multiple challenges that can come with aging parents; besides the extra time and energy involved, there’s an emotional toll that comes with facing the reality of a loved one’s mortality.
- I swear it’s sometimes a daily challenge for me to be realistic about my bandwidth and figure out how to navigate the various demands on my time and attention and feel like my priorities are in the right spot.
And I could go on. What I’ve come to realize is that trying to hide from our struggles never works; they persist – and sometimes even get worse. Instead, we can lean in with courageous vulnerability and find opportunities for connection and growth. Here are two of the things I have found helpful for myself and our clients, and I hope you find some value in them as well.
Lean on Your Resources & Community.
We’re not meant to go it alone. In fact, we are neurobioloigcally hardwired to be in connection with other people. And, we are beautifully flawed human beings, not mythically perfect superheroes. When we’re struggling, it’s so easy to create a narrative that we’re all alone – that no one else struggles with the same things or that no one will understand or want (or be able) to help us.
So let me remind you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Admitting we’re not perfect, are struggling, or need help is a very vulnerable thing to do; it’s also hugely courageous. When we lean into vulnerability, more often than not we will be met with empathy and connection (the opposite of what our self-limiting stories might be telling us in those moments). When we want to shrink and hide is exactly when we need to reach out to others. Maybe that’s a trusted friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor. Or maybe it’s time to seek professional help.
I feel fortunate to have some close relationships in my life; these are people that I can talk to when I’m on the struggle bus and can help me feel heard and seen. They also give me insights and perspectives (and lovingly call me on my own crap) to help me reset, regroup and get out of my own way to find a path forward that is helpful.
- Who are those people for you?
- What are you doing to invest in and nurture those relationships?
Build Your Resilience Resume.
Think about what typically goes on a resume…the highlight reel of all our accomplishments. But it doesn’t show the struggles, setbacks and failures that went along with each success. And in today’s over-filtered social media world, we have a distorted view of reality sometimes. We forget that EVERYONE struggles and has setbacks; it’s part of the messiness of being human.
Yet, when we’re in the middle of a struggle, sometimes it’s easy to forget that. And sometimes it’s easy to forget how strong we really are. That’s why I love the idea of building a Resilience Resume; I learned about it several years ago from Kristen Hadeed, and it’s been such a helpful tool for me and others.
It’s just like it sounds; start making a list of tough things you’ve experienced but have come through the other side and grown as a person, learned a valuable lesson, or perhaps become stronger as a result. Note what you did to move through each experience, key lessons and gifts of growth the experience provided you, and what you want to remind yourself of based on that experience.
Not only will it remind you of your strength, but you’ll have it to easily reference the next time life does what it inevitably does. Years ago, my dear friend, Debbie, gave me this image when I was going through a really difficult time in my life; she wanted to remind me of how strong I really am and that I would get through it. I’ve had it hanging on my office wall ever since as kind of a quick visual reminder of my resilience resume. I took it down a few months ago to reread the passage; it was just what I needed to hear.
Remember that life WILL be hard sometimes. So it is critical that we equip ourselves with tools to help us navigate the challenges. It is COURAGEOUS to reach out for help and lean on resources like the ones I’ve noted here; we all need reminders and support at times. It’s okay to fall apart; that’s when we need to lean on others, not disconnect. And it’s okay to remind ourselves of the strength we have and leverage it to get through the next tough experience or chapter.
You are not alone. You matter. You are stronger than you think.
Stay brave. Stay human. Stay safe. And never dull your sparkle!