Times of testing are a guaranteed part of life. If you haven’t had a season of fiery trial, surely you will eventually. Things may go along quite well, a life of convenience and comfort can even last decades. But in an instant everything can change. Sometimes it’s as if a tarp has been ripped off, exposing layers and layers of dysfunction. A health diagnosis, personal loss, job change, divorce, addiction and substance abuse.
Many things come crashing into our lives and break up the routine of living. When crisis hits, we sometimes see unexpected things from people around us. Some will show negative, even toxic characteristics that may have been dormant. Others show amazing strength and kindnesses that we didn’t expect. Going through a crucible, a severe test or trial, can also produce great new things in all of us if we go through it with eyes open. I personally experienced a time of severe testing a few years ago as written about in my book “Unhooked, a Mother’s Story of Unhitching from the rollercoaster of her Son’s Addiction.”
There really is no way to prepare for crisis or trials, but there are healthy ways to endure them. I have discovered a few positive strategies to ease the way through:
- Daily Wellness Rituals I follow a routine daily that includes a few minutes of morning meditation, prayer, affirmations and various vitamin concoctions to start my day on a positive note. It’s important to tie mental, emotional, spiritual and physical wellness together
- Distractions and mood changers In the most intense moments, when my brain is blowing fuses and needs a break, I interrupt my overthinking with calming Youtube videos like waterfalls, birds in flight and mandala making. I also find videos of my favorite comedians or competitive tickling to be helpfully distracting. Whether I opt for calming, comedy or something unique enough to incite me to pause and squint at the screen, these videos are quick to pull me away for a few minutes and ease the tension. (Competitive tickling is a sport, check it out. You’re welcome.)
- A smooth talker My friend Mark once described a terrifying moment in his pickup truck on a mountain road. As the truck hit ice, Mark lost control and the truck began to fishtail, swerve and spin out of control. He came very close to other cars and even near the edge of the cliff. Mark’s passenger in a very calm voice began repeating “You’re doing great, we’re fine, we are going to be just fine.” For what seemed like an eternity the truck careened unpredictably,
Mark evacuated his bladder and his companion spoke these words soothingly, almost hypnotizing time to slow down until the truck came to a stop on its own. They miraculously stopped a safe distance from other vehicles. A rationale friend to talk us through the madness can be the difference between mellowing out and melting down.
- Set a goal in the midst When my Dad was in hospice and it was obvious I would enter my thirties fatherless, we talked about how I’d handle what may lie ahead. With the absence of his voice to guide me through tough times we came up with a plan. Goal setting in the midst of crisis was the notion we settled on. Goals are something I could distract myself with and even become excited about. This practice became a lifestyle that has helped me see around corners many times when difficulties come. Striving for a goal when I am working through a problem reminds me that time will pass and so will the struggle or heartache. When I am affected and frustrated by a thing (or a person) I quickly sign up for a new 5 or 10k, set a writing deadline, look for a bonus to work toward or some other goal. Something challenging, that I have to put real effort into. The time is going to pass regardless. Having an adjacent goal insures that when the storm finally does subside, I will have rewards and accomplishments as well as an outcome. If it’s a person who has afflicted me, I am actually thankful for them in the long run. It’s hard to dwell on how I was wronged when I’m chasing a goal. That’s broadens my view of the big picture, quickly moving me away from hard feelings. The offense becomes a launching pad (or starting line) for accomplishment. That pulls my mind out of negativity and conflict. I reroute myself back to the goal as often as possible. The bigger the offense or difficulty, the bigger the goals I set. It’s become such a way of life that I no longer have an ability to stay mad at anyone (usually).
There are some trials that come to prove our strength to us. Similar to how after steel has been bent, stretched and tried to its tensile strength limit, it is then reinforced and set into place for incredible things like structures for buildings and bridges.
Tensile Strength: The testing of a material such as steel by tearing apart and bending until it reaches its maximum limit or breaking point. The ability of an object to be stretched or pulled without breaking.
Food for thought: if not tested to the breaking point, steel may have unseen weaknesses, it could fail or breakdown after it has been put into place to help and support massive amounts of people. Steel has to be tested to the limit in order to know if it’s truly sound, so it doesn’t let people down once they’re depending on it.
Whether going through a severe crucible or tensile strength testing, it’s possible to come through with new strengths; being made better than before.
“Only the strongest are put through fire…and the forge creates things of great strength and beauty. Then I shall be glorious by the time my tenure ends.” ~Sharon Shinn