How to Cope with Tough Experiences

Still, I rise.” – Maya Angelou

All of us deal with tough experiences in life. Times when we feel lost and completely overwhelmed. Times when we “just feel”, and we don’t know where to turn. Below are some suggestions to help cope with these.

1. Write about it: Have you ever typed out an angry e-mail, and then deleted it before you sent it? Usually, you still feel a whole lot better even thought the message was never sent. There is something about writing that is therapeutic. It helps us to sort through, and to organize, our thoughts. Also, writing can often offer us emotional release, new perspective on our lives, other people, and events.

Some guidelines to help you with the writing process …

– Set aside a fixed period of time (such as 15 minutes a day, each day, for the next week) to write about what happened, and how it left you feeling.

 – Don’t think about grammar, or the standard of your writing. No-one is going to be reading this but you.

– Hang in there, keep writing, even when you find it hard, and even when stirs up strong and negative emotions. This is common. It is something to expect. But with time, the painful feelings will slowly ease and dissipate.

2. Work on Having a Solution-Focused Mindset: You might not be able to change what happened, or to change much about the situation you are. But you can take control of some aspects of your life, and you can take some small steps to help you feel less tossed about.   

Some guidelines to help you here include …

– Following on from (1) above, many people find it helps to put things down on paper. Try to summarize the trauma, problem, stressor, or situation in a few brief sentences.

– Make a list of things that might help. These can be small things, like taking 10 min to yourself at the start of the day.

– Silence your inner critic as you try to make your list.

– Read through the list you’ve made with a realistic mind. Some ideas will not work. They’re not practical for you. But some things on the list will be possibilities. Ask yourself: which are going to be the easiest to implement? What are the ideas that appeal to you the most? We’re not looking for perfection here. We’re looking for something that will work for you.

– Start with the option which seems like the best fit, and if this doesn’t work, then move onto something else. Don’t get discouraged. It is going to take time.

3. Assign yourself specific stress and worry times – perhaps for an hour after supper each evening. When you find yourself worrying at other times, tell yourself you will pay attention to your worries at the time you have set aside for this. Knowing that we will look at something of concern, enable us to keep on going, and to still cope with other aspects of our lives.

4. Get support: Don’t be afraid to ask for help; don’t be afraid to reach out for support. Know who is there for you and who isn’t. People who genuinely care about you will want to help. They see it as gift they can give to you.

Sometimes we need practical support (because we can’t cope with all the normal things we used to cope with before); and sometimes we need people to listen, and to be there for us. Sometimes those two groups of people are different. No-one can do everything but many people can do something … and want to do something. Let them be there for you, and support you at this time.

22 thoughts on “How to Cope with Tough Experiences

    • It helps if we don’t expect any individual person to always be there for us, or be everything we need. And it takes the burden off us if we see we can’t give that to others either. Yes, healing takes a village. Thanks David!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Love writing as a means to express frustration, even if I don’t share my thoughts with the intended recipient. Also, tip #3… if only I could convince my brain to only worry during specific times of the day! Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think we rarely share our writing with the intended recipient and that is probably a good thing 😉 But the writing in itself is therapeutic. Yes, we still worry but maybe it lessens the frequency or intensity. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I appreciate it ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  2. #1 has always been helpful to me. Years ago, I was going through a time of real stress and grief. I wasn’t sleeping well, and after many nights of waking up and staying awake, I figured I may as well get up and do something constructive. So, I wrote, using a dream I’d had as my inspiration and building on the story. And that’s how most of my first book got written.

    Liked by 2 people

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