It’s often towards the end of a calendar year that we look back and reflect on the past 12 months and assess how life has been.
I’m no exception. As for many of us, there have been some challenging times this year with family bereavement and unwelcome health issues for close friends and colleagues - it can all feel a bit gloomy at times, especially within the wider context of UK and world economic and environmental events, not to mention ongoing conflict.
But we’re nothing but resilient, us humans.
We have great survival instinct and are surrounded by a number of support networks to help bolster this resilience, even if we don’t recognise them at the time. Family, friends, colleagues; the freedom to walk straight out the door for some fresh air, wild swimming (for the brave), exercise (for the motivated), laughter, music, and countless apps (sometimes too many apps). It’s all there, if only we can cut through the clutter of media noise, telling us how we ‘should’ be, feel, act and live.
Sometimes, we just need some quiet space. And to recognise that this is life, real life.
It’s not the media-hyped ‘look at my perfect life’ or the hysterical ‘this is the worst thing that can happen’ life. “Sh*t happens” (and quite a lot, actually) but there are some good times too. A bit like Yin and Yang, day and night, winter and summer - a dynamic balance between opposing forces. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all eastern meditation on you. But I am going to mention cautious optimism, of hope amongst challenges.
Hope drives our determination to keep going for better times ahead.
Sometimes life can feel like a constant challenge and it’s okay to feel sad, low or lost. And it’s important for these feelings to be heard and validated.
But staying in that state? That's not okay. Not for us, nor for the people around us.
Media channels can often perpetuate these feelings of woe, driving us further into an abyss of helplessness and disabling us further. I’m all for getting the emotions out - have a good cry, shout and scream (in an appropriate setting!), but then... develop a plan.
I do like a plan.
Nothing miraculous, nothing that’s trying to change the world; because often, we can’t. But we can control how we react to these unwelcome life events. A plan with small, positive actions can give us back control and perspective; it helps us manage life.
And this develops resilience.
Being open to ideas, of new ways of looking at something or trying things can also help. It can give us another avenue of support. I learn a lot from my clients: one explained how she and her husband said three ‘gratitudes’ every night, in recognition of the positive things they’d achieved or had happened that day. Another told me to “love the people that matter”.
Golly, such wisdom!
I normally use a bit of black humour to lift the mood, but I’ll take these too.
Reminding yourself of your strengths and achievements is another good strategy; personally, I think I’m marvellous but others may beg to differ… for those who don’t know me, I’m joking (about the former, not latter!).
I encourage you all to look for the positives, however small they might seem. The chink of light that helps keep us going. That support network to help lift the mood somewhat.
So, now you’ve read this, switch off your phone, tablet or computer and think about that plan. Love the people that matter, lose the naysayers and laugh when you can.