Was 2019 a challenging year for you? It was for many people, myself included. But that’s nothing new. Every year brings challenges, some are just more comfortable than others. You’ve been dealing with the challenge of Uncle Bigot all your life so he’s less challenging than say all of your appliances futzing out in the same year. But still… wouldn’t just one year without an uncomfortable challenge be nice?
If you’re the introspective type, like I am, you’ve probably already thought pretty deeply about each of your challenges. Things like: How did it affect your outlook on life? How did it affect who you are as a person and how you make your way through the world? Were there any silver linings? If so, what were they? Is there anything about this challenge that changed your perspective in a way that will help you deal with future challenges differently or more effectively.
Things I Learned From 2019’s Challenges
There is never a good time for life to throw you a curveball – We often decry the timing of one of life’s challenges, but really… is there any time that you’d really welcome one? That said, while there are no good times, there are worse times, such as when you’re already dealing with a ginormous challenge or three.
Everything is relative – When life seems to be throwing you nothing but curveballs, even small challenges seem huge. Just knowing this can make dealing with the smaller ones a bit easier.
You are stronger than you think – Some challenges may seem insurmountable, but you manage to get through them somehow. You may not be able to say just how you did it, but you did. The simple reason is that the alternative isn’t much of an alternative. That doesn’t mean that things turn out the way you want, or that you come out unscathed, but it does mean you make it through.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way – It’s amazing what you can do when you’re forced to find a new way to do things. You’ll find a way, because you have to. It may not be pretty (like when I moved my laundry basket between my car and office while on crutches) but you’ll find a way to make it work, even if that means asking someone else to help.
Priorities are relative – Your normal priorities will likely go right out the window when you’re facing a major life challenge. Let them. Prioritize the things you need to, not the things you want to. When the challenge has passed, you can reprioritize the things you used to. If you find they’re as important as they used to be.
There is no such thing as normal – Instead, normal is more like Michigan roads… Always under construction. Or like language… constantly evolving. After a big life challenge, rarely will (or should) normal go back to its pre-challenge condition. Challenges change us whether we want them to or not. Trying to go back to an old normal is a guaranteed exercise in futility, frustration, and stress. When all is said and done, we’re better off letting our new normal change as it will. It may take some getting used to, but pining for the way it used to be will only make you miserable.
Gratitude will bring much needed perspective to life’s challenges – In the last 8 years, my husband and I have each lost both of our parents. While each of the experiences was quite different, the last 3 deaths had one thing in common: We had a formal gratitude practice in place. Our formal practice takes the form of a gratitude jar, and every year we read all the slips of paper from it on New Years Eve. We had a lot of bittersweet gratitude those years. You might be wondering what you could have to be grateful for when a parent dies, but it’s there if you look for it. A few examples: Support from people you never expected, forging a closer bond with remaining family members, and getting to know someone on a much deeper level before they died. If there is gratitude or silver linings to be found in the death of a close family member, you can find it in just about any challenge.
Hopefully at least one of these resonates with you and helps you the next time life throws you a big ole curveball. In the meantime, I hear massage is a pretty good way to get some stress relief.