Just a year ago, none of us could foresee a global pandemic and its knock-on effects. In times like these, hopelessness becomes an increasingly common feeling. There are tragedies on the news every day. The economy is played off against health and nothing ever never seems to fully recover.
Every person faces these situations differently, though. Some are able to adapt and actually find that enforced change suits them well. Others find comfort in faith; others turn to meditation or therapy. And others, unfortunately, adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking to manage their grief, anguish, and sadness.
However, looking at hard times in a different light can also help in adopting more positive coping mechanisms which helps find meaning.
Find meaning in hard times
What follows are some general tips. They aren’t specifically related to COVID, but it’s not hard to see how they might be useful.
So, in the face of a negative event, sit back and ask yourself how you can make the event turn to your advantage.
For example, let’s say as a result of circumstances, you’ve lost your job. It’s a distressing situation that can leave anyone feeling angry, frustrated and even ashamed. Such emotions often stem from the expectations on your shoulders. If you have a family to support, debt, or live in an uncertain economy where your opportunities to find a new job are slim.
How is it possible to put a positive spin on such circumstances? Stepping back isn’t easy when the adrenaline is pumping or your mood is in a slump, but it’s an important aspect of being able to move forward. Consider, for example:
- Did I really like that job? In many cases, we’re stuck in a job that no longer makes us fulfilled, but we are too scared to quit.
- Is this situation freeing my time for better opportunities? A job you no longer enjoyed could have been a roadblock in your professional development.
- What did I learn from that experience? The skills you learned at that job can be a platform to find different or better opportunities.
- What went wrong? In this case, be honest with yourself. If you were fired, why? Address the causes non-judgmentally. Was it you? Was it circumstances beyond your control? Was it a combination of the two?
- Are there any areas for growth? Regardless of what caused the negative situation, think of how you can use the experience to grow.
Taking back control
By asking yourself questions like these (add your own of course) you don’t only give meaning to a negative situation. You’re also taking back control of it. And you take control of it by reframing negative situations as opportunities to grow and thrive in unexplored areas.
For example, a lost job is an opportunity for new enterprises — a new business, a trip, time off to spend with family and friends, continued education, and more.
It is okay to grieve and to have a bad day. But it’s also important to take responsibility for every stage of our lives and take a proactive approach to every situation. Only then, can we find meaning in our lives and minimize uncertainty.
This isn’t the only way to find meaning
When hardships come, it’s easy to over-think the situation. However, focusing at least part of your time to giving to others helps to put life in perspective.
When you give away your time and energy to help others, you create a connection with others. Life is no longer something that happens to you. Instead, it becomes a network, which you can influence in a positive way.
Finally, difficulties are part of life. Everyone knows that and trying to avoid them is not only useless, but it also prevents you from focusing your energy in purposeful, selfless work. Therefore, if difficulties cannot be avoided, you should face them with patience and compassion to yourself and others.
Every situation leaves a mark on you. That means something. It means you’re growing, building your own path of self-acceptance and compassion. You have the power to take control of your life by reflecting non-judgmentally, accepting each situation as an opportunity, and working with and for others.