How to remain strong?

Q I feel almost at breaking point. I have put up with so much in my life and I constantly seem to experience one bad event followed by another. How can I remain the strong person I thought I was?

A It is a great that you can identify yourself with strength. This indicates that you have worked hard to be resilient with challenges that you have faced.

Resilience is the ability to adjust to your circumstances and move forward after challenging life experiences; and resilience is a strong factor in living a fulfilling and happy life. Building resilience requires flexibility in thinking and acting. Accepting changes in life can be really challenging but recognising that change also creates opportunities will enhance your resilience. I see many people who believe that they have reached the “worst” low of their life and don’t know where to turn. Although they cannot change the past, they invariably learn new skills to help them cope and strengthen them for future challenges. Hence, the opportunity for improved mental and physical health can arise, despite challenging circumstances.

Sometimes it is not possible to completely solve a dilemma but take small steps and set achievable goals so that you are able to clearly see the progress you have made at each stage. Try not to measure success with the end goal in mind as that can be overwhelming and deflating. Where problem solving is no longer an option, find ways to nurture yourself emotionally and physically. Set time aside for activities that you find pleasant and relaxing and ensure you maintain a healthy sleeping pattern.

If your self-esteem takes a battering due to negative life experiences, look for ways to build your sense of purpose and achievement. Focus your energy and effort into positive activities that also make you feel valued. You could join a community or physical fitness group, volunteer for a charity or school, undertake short courses or even join or form a book club (if reading is your thing). Also take some time to look at what you would personally like to achieve in your life in relation to your physical and mental health, employment, personal development, finances, leisure, spirituality... the list is endless. Is there one thing you could do that would take you a step closer to your goals in life? Think about steps you could take within 24 hours, within 1 week, within 1 month and within 3 months. Focus on one thing at a time and you will soon start to notice a more positive outlook.

One of the most vital aspects of healthy resilience is having strong human connections. Do you have someone you can confide in? If not, don’t keep your worries to yourself. Reach out to family, friends and neighbours. But if any of these people are the source of your worries, engage with people outside of your immediate network. You may find some wonderful, caring people in any potential group you consider joining, as mentioned above. Friends and family can be a great source of support. If you are not sure where to start, remember you can always seek counselling support, to help steer you in the direction you would like to go.

Stay hopeful because our circumstances are always changing. As long as you have hope, you have motivation to make choices that have the potential for a more valued life. This does not mean that you won’t experience negative life events, but it does mean that you can see the situation for what it is, assess what you can and can’t control and make the best of that situation.

Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Tanya Russell Image
Tanya Russell

Tanya Russell is CatholicCare's Assistant Director and a registered psychologist.

Other Aurora Issues