Responding to Life’s Challenges that are Out of Your Control

by Diane Pharo, SCN

Day after day, in times experienced as safe, normal and predictable, we live our lives with the trust and confidence that we are in control of our world, however small or large that may be. Most assuredly, there are those aspects of our lives where we do have and should be in control. That is a responsible way to live our lives. Yet, undoubtedly, unanticipated situations arise when we come face to face with the stark and frightening reality of uncertainty. Our world can seem shaken in the threat of the unknown and the vulnerability of not being in control.

Working your way through.
Forgetting to set the alarm before bedtime results in hectic efforts by the entire family to avoid the inevitable arriving late for school and work. The betrayal of a friend seems unthinkable until it happens. A spouse admits infidelity after years of marriage. A loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Parents watch helplessly as their child spirals into the web of addiction. A global pandemic threatens the lives and livelihoods of loved ones and strangers alike.

Each of us has experienced the challenge of surrendering control, whether willingly or unwillingly, gracefully or grudgingly, with resignation or resentment. Thankfully, the choice eventually to surrender willingly and gracefully in peaceful resignation is within our power.

Living Life with Resilience.
Resilience is the immune system of the human spirit (James and Evelyn Whitehead, 2016). Just as there are lifestyle choices that strengthen the body’s immune system to guard against illness and disease, so, too, there are spiritual and psychological habits and attitudes that equip us with the resources needed when the unexpected happens, the threat of danger lurches, and control is beyond our grasp. It is within our power to develop and nurture attitudes and habits that strengthen our resilience and sustain us through life’s ups and downs.

Cultivating a Hopeful Attitude.  Is the glass half empty or half full? The answer is actually both, isn’t it? There are those among us who are optimistic and hopeful, no matter the situation. For them, the glass is always half full. There are those who are pessimistic and hopeless and always anticipate the worst.

Acquiring the capacity to embrace both the positive and the negative, the blessing and the threat, without naivete or denial allows us to live with balance and stability. Remembering and cherishing the gifts and graces in the half-full realities of life strengthen us with the courage and hope needed to weather the half-empty moments. As we encourage and support one another in opening our eyes and hearts to both the blessings and challenges, together we will strengthen resilience.

Our attitude toward life’s circumstances and our beliefs about ourselves in these circumstances make all the difference. Illustrator Mary Engelbreit offers sound advice: If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. We can assume the stance of a victor – one who emerges from each challenge, crisis, and uncertainty whole and intact and perhaps even stronger.

In contrast, approaching life as a victim of whatever life presents renders one helpless and can paralyze the human spirit. What we tell ourselves, we come to believe. Choosing to live victoriously and refusing to be victimized open us to a hopeful way forward and through to the other side. Naturally, the outcome of every situation and challenge may not be as we’d hoped. Yet, we emerge resilient and in control of our attitudes and outlook. Celebrate your victories – small and big alike.

Excerpt taken from the new Responding to Life’s Challenges that are Out of Your Control CareNote.
Purchase today to read the remaining sections: Living Gracefully, Exploring Creativity, Practicing Gratitude, Mindful Breathing, Staying Close, and Take Heart.

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