I think everyone faces life’s challenges in different ways. I didn’t truly understand this until I was married and was able to intimately observe someone else going through the same life events as myself, yet reacting to them and coping with them in very different ways. I learned that what works for me, does not work for everyone. Still, perhaps my perspective can help, so here is how I cope with challenges and adversity.
First and foremost I believe in myself. I have my failings and weaknesses, but so far in life, I’ve always found a way to make things work out and to move forward. I’ve never had it truly rough, but nor have I had it easy. I mostly made my own way through college, came out with plenty of debt and not much else, worked my way into a professional career, married a wonderful woman, bought a house, made lots of friends, played a lot of games, and set out to explore America. I got help here and there, but most of the opportunities I made or earned for myself and when I was helped, I tried my best to help back or extend a hand to others in kind. So looking back I think, “I overcame all those challenges, I can handle these too. I may not know how just yet, but I’ve always found a way forward.”
The other thing I often do is the old standby of counting my blessings. Even when I was in debt, had no real job, and my love life was a wasteland, I was pretty happy. I had friends, games, a computer, a roof over my head, food to eat, and decent health. I find there is just a lot to enjoy in life and I tend to be happy and thankful for what I have. Compared to people living in the midst of war, or addicted to drugs, or captives of abusive people claiming to love them, or suffering from constant health issues, my life has been roses galore. Right now I own my home and vehicle free and clear, I’ve still got a few months of expenses in the bank, I’m very happily married, have two great cats, lots of cool toys, incredible freedom, and I’m seeing the natural wonders of America. Pretty awesome I think.
The secret to what success I have had and part of my coping strategy is to keep moving forward. If I’m not relaxing (we will get to that one) I am working on something. Some work pays off, some of it doesn’t, but I find if I keep at something, eventually opportunities show up as a result of one activity or another. Persistence tends to pay off and you can get as much mileage from a failure as a success. Nothing stresses me out more than worrying about something I can’t do anything about. I either have to do something positive about the challenge or just get it out of my head by focusing on something else. Often you can just leave certain problems behind by forging a path around them through work on something else. If you just stand still, you probably won’t get anywhere.
Last, and perhaps least, but perhaps not, is taking it easy. One of my great talents is chilling out and having fun. As I said, I can take a lot of enjoyment in a lot of things. Give me a good movie or TV program and my troubles are a world away. Give me a good video game and I am enraptured for hours. Heck, I take great satisfaction in just lying down for a nap with a comfy pillow. I am almost incapable of staying worried or brooding for more than a few hours at a time. Brooding anxiety and lingering resentment I can do, but despair or panic not so much. I think ultimately this is an advantage in coping with trouble. A mind clear of anxiety is one that solves problems and no one really works well when they are short on sleep or running ragged. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your problems.
So to sum up what I suggest when facing a daunting challenge or series of them…
- Believe in yourself: you have made it this far!
- Count your blessings: keep a list if it helps.
- Keep moving forward: find something positive you can do for you or others.
- Take it easy: life is too short not to enjoy what you have.