Why Does Everything Seem So Hard?
By: Dr. Rick Petronella
We’ve all seen and heard the recommendations flooding the media about how to take care of our physical health during this challenging time…
We’re supposed to wash our hands, maintain social distancing, and wear a mask whenever distancing isn’t possible.
But what about our mental health?
What can we do to safeguard our sanity when everything we’ve ever known has been flipped on its head?
This is no longer about “getting through” a couple of months of disruption to our lives and routines. Back in March, that survival approach seemed reasonable enough. “Just hang in there and do whatever you can to get by…” But as time passes, it becomes increasingly apparent that Covid-19 isn’t going away anytime soon.
For those who have struggled with a history of physical or emotional abuse, the inescapability and pervasive nature of this virus feels distressingly familiar and reminds us of what we lived through and felt back then.
Just like the traumatic events we’ve experienced, it can feel like we cannot escape this virus because there is no safe place to go; we do not know if or when we might catch it or how our body may respond – and we do not know if or when all this might end.
This uncertainty stirs up and re-awakens all of our previous coping mechanisms. Consequently, all the things we did back then to survive, we now see echoed in how we’re coping today.
The Art of Reframing Challenges
Challenges in our lives come in all forms and are never welcomed but are inevitable. The challenge of the difficulty seems largely determined by our perspective. It’s the way we see things that abates a problem or exaggerates it. By focusing on the challenges, we take what might be an almost insignificant concern and blow it up into a life-altering catastrophe. Reframing difficulties is a useful strategy to reduce anxiety and apply maximum effort to solving problems. Changing one’s perspective can be emotional regulation tool. Here are three positive reframes we can use:
Opportunities to Grow
Most of growth in character has not come when everything in life is going smoothly. Conversely, growth occurs when we do the next right thing even when we are tired, sick, lonely, discouraged, sad, grieving, or angry. These emotional challenges can stretch us and can even create empathy, increase compassion for others, and lead to a better understanding of our own limitations as well as our strengths. Challenges can help shape a desire to contribute to those around us.
Challenges to Overcome
Do not examine your faults, but focus on your strengths and resources. Use your competitive nature to win the contest. Become energized and focused by the challenge rather than be shut down by it. You can solve problems and overcome difficulties. Rather than to see yourself as a failure, concentrate on your ability to navigate the course. You are gaining confidence and strength. You can rise up and face your fears rather than to shrink back in defeat. You can make progress, get things done, and accomplish your goals. Difficulties do not have to defeat you–they can define you.
Lessons to Learn
When we go through difficulties, let’s ask ourselves what we can learn from this experience. Yogi Berra, a famous baseball player, coach and manager, stated: “Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.” Difficulties, hardships, and adversities can be invaluable instructors, loudly by emphasizing what won’t work and quietly reminding us what will.
Reframe trouble as it comes. Ask yourself, ”Is this an opportunity to grow, a challenge to overcome, or a lesson to learn? This is not a clever denial strategy, but rather a powerful way to convert setbacks of the past into inspiration for the future.”
Most of us have forgotten the true purpose of living, instead of masking it with a complex assortment of work, chores, and duties, and then complaining about how difficult life is. However, you can just as easily create a simple life as you can a complex one; it just takes some time to reflect on what you can change, and then go through with it.
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius
Jesus said, Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshing and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.” Matthew 11: 25-26, [Jeremiah 6:16] Amplified Bible
Therefore, we have peace with God
Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness,[a] we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5