Kids Life Tuscaloosa May/June 2022 - Page 16

THE WAY THINGS SHOULD BE may / june 2022

16
By Larry Deavers

We tend to create so much unnecessary stress for ourselves by refusing to accept a given situation as it is and dealing with it calmly . Often , our initial reaction to a situation we don ’ t like is denial , telling ourselves , “ Things should not be this way !” This insistent denial creates stress because we find the circumstances facing us “ unacceptable .” We kind of have to work through this denial before we can calm down , begin to think rationally and give any kind of meaningful or productive response to our circumstances . We can waste a good deal of time , energy and frustration with our resistance , while also doing damage to those around us , who also experience our anger , tension and resentment .

The sooner we can shift from “ Things shouldn ’ t be this way !” to giving ourselves a message of acceptance , such as , “ So , this is the way things are ,” the more quickly we can examine our options and the less emotional and physical energy we waste in our resistance .
This is also an important lesson we pass along to our children , intentionally or not . Children learn from and , by nature , repeat the coping patterns they learn from their parents . They learn from us how to view difficult situations , whether to point fingers and place blame , or how to remain calm in the face of adversity . If we become easily agitated , angry or anxious , chances are , that ’ s the way they will deal with their own problems , as well .
Take control of your thinking is critical to achieving acceptance . We can sometimes give into the temptation of allowing our minds to run rampant with self-defeating thoughts , such as , “ Why does everything have to be so hard ?”, “ Nothing I do ever works out right .” or “ Things are never going to be the way I want .” Dwelling on such thoughts only magnifies them and we can soon see nothing except negativity in our life . To break this way of thinking , we have to intentionally interrupt those thoughts by challenging them with a more balanced recognition of the things in our lives that are rewarding , as well as a more realistic view of the struggles others are facing .
Focus on the things you can control . Even when circumstances are not the way you want them to be , the most effective approach is to ask , “ What can I do ?”. This focuses your attention on practical steps you can take to begin taking more control of your actions and thoughts . As you begin to take even small steps that are within your control , you will find that , even in difficult circumstances , you begin to feel more empowered .
Remember : The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence . Recognize that everyone has difficult circumstances to work through ; we just generally don ’ t let others see when we ’ re struggling . Because of the tendency to keep our struggles to ourselves , when we look at others around us , we can get the idea that we are the only one with challenges , while everyone else ’ s life is filled with ease and contentment . This assumption could not be further from the truth ; no one gets through life unscathed . Like ducks on a pond , if you pay close attention , you will find that those who seem to have it all together on the surface are peddling like crazy underneath .
Find the positives in your circumstances . By nature , we find what we ’ re looking for . So , if you expect to see only difficulties in your life , then your attention is automatically more drawn to those areas . However , when you begin to push yourself to see good in those same circumstances , you will notice that there are two sides of the coin in any situation . If you focus on broadening your perspective , you can achieve a better balance between seeing the benefits , as well as the challenges , nearly every time .
Focus on the moment . Much of our discouragement and frustration comes from focusing too far into the future . We can easily project our discouragement onto the rest of the week , this year , or the rest of our lives . However , we can gain a greater sense of control over our circumstances by focusing our attention on right now , on this moment . Even if it seems to be something small , you can nearly always find something you can enjoy about this moment .
Emotions are temporary . Even if you struggle with changing your thoughts , finding positives , or focusing on the moment , you can find some encouragement by recognizing that the way you feel right now is temporary . Even if circumstances are beyond your control , the way you feel right now is not the way you will always feel . Resisting the ten dency to measure our entire lives , past or future , by the way we feel at a given moment is something we all struggle with at times . By seeing your emotions as “ just the way I feel right now ( or today , or at this stage of life )”, you can focus on managing your circumstances for a period of time , instead of seeing what you face as a permanent condition .
Larry Deavers is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker & Executive Director of Family Counseling Service of West Alabama .