“Is one of your men home? I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” With that phone call my husband and I nearly ice skated to my elderly neighbor’s aid. An ice storm had left her sitting on the ground next to her car unable to get up.
Although most of us are weary of rehashing the mess that was 2020, sweeping its trials under a rug isn’t the answer either. It was a rough year for many of us. We may know friends or loved ones who have suffered greatly. We ourselves may have dealt with loss and issues that have been hard to bounce back from. It may feel like we have fallen and can’t get up.
My hiatus from blogging was a result of my own difficult year. Whenever I tried to write, I could only think of my laundry list of hardships I was facing, and I struggled to share positive thoughts with you. So, I took the advice of Thumper’s Mom, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
However, there is a diehard Pollyanna living inside of me. Pollyanna always tried to find something to be glad of in the midst of difficulties. When she got crutches instead of a doll in a missionary barrel, instead of being disappointed she decided to be glad she didn’t have to use the crutches. It’s time for Pollyanna thinking. It’s time to move forward and stop the cycle of sorrow, unhappiness and negative thoughts.
A recent chat with my psychotherapist son gave me some ideas to share with you. If this has been a difficult year for you, join me and let’s push the reset button together.
Give Yourself Grace
Yes, that rotten thing did happen. That health issue stole from you. That situation broke your heart. That loss WAS devastating. You don’t have to pretend that it never happened. Don’t sweep that elephant under the rug, but also don’t beat yourself up if Superwoman fled and was replaced with someone who couldn’t handle it all.
Giving yourself grace means it’s okay if things were too hard for you to handle. It means it’s okay if you didn’t handle each situation correctly, and it’s okay if you fell down and couldn’t get back up.
Find Your Inner Pollyanna
Pollyanna was right, it is healthy to look at that rotten situation and find something positive about it. Depending on the level of difficulty of the situation this can be a challenge to do, but try. Find something positive that came out of the ashes, no matter how small.
Many years ago, I struggled with anxiety. It was debilitating and I hated it. There was nothing to be thankful for or positive about it. However, it was one of my greatest seasons of growth with God and I could eventually say that I was thankful for that season
Start with a gratitude list. List the things in life that you are thankful for. Once you are able to shift to a thankful mentality it will be easier to find the positive in each negative situation.
We need to give ourselves grace but wallowing is not healthy. Moving forward means we must focus on solutions and not just on our problems.
Train Your Brain
My Dad (Mr. Positive Mental Attitude) likes to say, “No stinkin thinkin!”
Our minds start expecting difficulties and disasters when we stay focused on them. This affects our mood and how we react to new situations. A negative state of mind and unhappiness is the result.
A negative mindset causes us to become passive and we stop trying to improve, then circumstances and external situations begin controlling you and how you feel and view your world.
Reprogramming your thought processes takes effort. Unfortunately, we don’t get to just float into a happy frame of mind. The Bible tells us to “bring every thought captive” for a reason; it is true that “we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.” (2 Corinthians 10:5 and Romans 12:2)
Changed thinking starts with self-talk. When we have been through a difficult season our thoughts can be a broken record of the same sorrowful thoughts. Isolation due to quarantine doesn’t help since any community that we had that gave us encouraging words has dwindled. It is going to take some work and a little diligence. You are going to have to fight for your thought life. You will need to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
I’ve included a link for a list of positive thoughts and scriptures to help you with this. Print these and post them where you can see them throughout the day. Write them out yourself. Information sticks with us more when we write it down.
Click this link for your helpful list! https://dl.bookfunnel.com/uxago73d0b
Choose a Task
When the dust settles after a storm, we can find ourselves unsure of how to get back on track and find the motivation to do so. Don’t wait for the motivation to appear. It will come after you have accomplished something. Don’t sit around feeling defeated because of a lack of motivation, choose one small task to accomplish. Once you have succeeded in accomplishing your task, motivation will follow.
For some the task may be as small as getting out of bed. If that is where you find yourself, you can do it and once you do, get dressed then eat breakfast. Each little task that you are able to do will motivate you to take the next step.
You can eat that elephant with one bite at a time. If something seems overwhelming, break it down into small doable chunks.
I have been cleaning out my junk room. It is a massive, overwhelming job. Often I don’t know what to do next and I want to quit, so I mentally break the room down into small sections and focus only on that section. Sometimes I need to break it down further and only address certain types of items in that section. Break things down into the size chunks you need to swallow it.
Dream a Dream
Difficult situations can bring our dreams crashing down. Start dreaming again! You may be able to pick up some of your previous dreams, dust them off and start again. Due to some type of loss, your dreams may need to be altered, but you still need to dream.
Dreams give us hope. They bring us encouragement that there is happiness ahead. Dreams give our life purpose, meaning and direction. They give us a starting point to make plans for the future.
Don’t let any more time slip away with hopelessness intruding in your heart. Think about your hopes and wishes. Write them down. Dream big; don’t limit yourself with rational thinking. Feel free to create a crazy bucket-list.
There is a big picture outside of this current situation and the beginning of a different reality starts with dreams.
Make a Plan
Goals are when you clarify your dreams. Take your dream list and once again break it down into bite size pieces. Divide your dreams into categories such as spiritual growth, self-improvement, travel, physical improvement, business, relationships, things I want to learn, projects I want to accomplish, skills I want to develop, things I’d like to purchase and any other area you need once you write all your dreams.
Once you put things into categories arrange them into order of importance to you.
Then write each goal as a positive, doable statement. Make it clear and well defined.
Make your goals measurable by including amounts or dates.
Be sure you’ve written a goal that is attainable, and it is not still just a dream.
It is not always easy to get up when you have fallen down. That is why my neighbor called for help when she had fallen.
We may need the encouragement of others. Call someone you trust and confide in them. The truth is that many people don’t know how to help others up. They belittle what you have been through, or they may point out others who have it much worse. Some people think tough love and telling you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps is the answer.
Don’t share with someone who doesn’t know how to be kind and help you. If you need professional help do not be ashamed, get it.
Sometimes reading books can help and encourage. I’d love to hear some of your suggestions in the comments.
Taking a course may help. It could be a course on how to set goals, a Bible study on renewing your mind or a course your psychology professional recommends.
Watch shows related to some of the things you dream about such as travel. Let the shows inspire you to turn those dreams into reality.
Focus on Others
Sometimes we just need to think about something else besides our own problems. Focusing on others and how we can help them is the best type of distraction. Helping others helps you look outside yourself and connect with the world around you and refocus.
You can be comforted by even small things that you can do for others.
Helping others fills us with such gratitude and even a new perspective. Helping others reminds us that we are not alone and that we CAN make a difference.
I’ve always loved the Prayer of Saint Francis, “Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand and to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive.”
My faith tells me that I am not alone, that God is always with me. My faith tells me that God has a plan for my life and in Him I will have the strength to overcome.
I believe that He is completely aware of our situation. He knows the heart ache we feel, and He has compassion for us. I don’t believe that He is a giant, ‘Whack a Mole” ready to whop us over the head when we stumble. He is a gracious and tender Father, and is the first to offer a hand when we have fallen.
Trust Him, He will lead, guide, and deliver you.
It is time to throw a party. It may just be a party for one but celebrate anyway. We need to celebrate the good things in our lives and focus on those.
I adore mood music and candlelight, especially if the candle smells delightful. A party for one for myself would include dinner that I don’t have to cook but is delivered instead, candle light, fresh flowers (I deserve them and so do you.) some Frank Sinatra serenading me and a gluten free brownie with a glop of Dairy free ice cream on top.
There are countless ways to celebrate and we need to do so. My next blog will include great ideas of ways to celebrate life.
This has been an unusually long blog post, but I wanted to make sure that I shared all of the information at one time. If you need help up, I’m going to do my best to pull you all the way up all at once.
The transition from 2020 to 2021 is not the magical event that will turn our lives around. It is taking the steps to change how we think and view our situation. The transition will come when we turn dreams into goals and when we trust God, help others and learn to celebrate instead of always grumbling.
You are in control of the reset button. Go ahead – PUSH IT!
Debbie, I’m so with you in struggling to find something to write these past months. Probably the only thing I got on paper was my to-do list 😉 But I love your statement of not sweeping that elephant under the rug, but instead eating it one bite at a time. It’s how I’ve actually crossed jobs off my list. And most important is what you said about re-programming thoughts. Amazing how much better you feel if you smile through lifting weights. (Of course, sometimes it probably looks a little more like a grimace, but hopefully, one bite at a time, the smile will get to the eyes, right?) Thanks for the great reminders.
Mom and Dad