I had a pretty easy childhood growing up: I made good grades, excelled in sports, and had a large circle of friends. I never really had to try that hard. And I got used to things going my way, to tell you the truth.
While it sounds nice, these “advantages” actually did me a disservice down the road. When the time came to rise up and navigate life’s inevitable setbacks, I was ill-equipped to face those challenges.
Instead, I turned to self-pity and alcohol as solutions, a move that ultimately cost me more than I ever thought possible.
Establishing Healthy Ways to Cope
Now that I have a daughter on the way, I want to make sure she doesn’t make the same mistakes. I also want to ensure she has the proper coping mechanisms to get through life’s challenges. I’d never want to see my daughter attempting to escape problems through drugs and alcohol.
Thankfully, there are ways to experience pain in healthier ways and “suffer more successfully” without losing everything. Here’s a few of those coping skills:
- Think Rationally
If you’re like me, you tend to be impulsive and make snap judgments. Resilient people acknowledge difficult situations and evaluate things rationally so they can make a plan and act. Doing this allows you to stay calm and keep the situation in perspective, without letting your emotions get the best of you.
- Imagine the Worst-Case Scenario
Most of the time, we realize that after analyzing the worst-case scenario, it isn’t really that bad – that we’ll be able to survive it. We’ll also be able to adapt to it, become stronger and actually find happiness through it. Coming to this conclusion not only prevents us from being paralyzed with fear, but it allows us to make peace with the worst-case scenario – should it happen – and then, move on.
- Stay Busy
When things go south, our natural tendency is to get sad, scared or retreat – which doesn’t help us actually get through the mess we’re in. Resilient people, on the other hand, know that staying busy not only helps keep us calm, but it also allows us to be productive and stay motivated.
- Get Help and Give Help
We all know reaching out for help during low points is crucial. But, did you know that giving help is just as beneficial? Helping others increases the feeling of meaning in our lives, which ultimately helps us succeed in tough times. For example, while I was in prison, I tutored a group of inmates in pre-calculus and algebra – something that gave me purpose each day and, frankly, was what got me out of bed most mornings. Helping others provides personal fulfillment and helps us rise above our fears – all qualities that can help us succeed during the worst of times.
We Can’t Escape Pain in Life
The bottom line is, pain is a natural part of life. The sooner we learn to face it head-on and not be afraid, the sooner we can overcome life’s obstacles, rather than escaping from them through drugs and alcohol.
Soon – very soon, in fact – my husband and I will become first-time parents. Our daughter will be born, and she’ll know we love and support her every day of her life. We’ll love her enough to teach her that pain and heartache are inevitable parts of life. And we’ll respect her by instilling her with the strength to overcome those painful times and the healthy coping skills to become a better person through adversity. That’s my promise.
Additional Reading: Sober and Pregnant – Here’s What I Plan to Teach My Little Girl
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