Our lives are lived from the inside out; our outward lives are reflections of our inner man or woman.
So, in the light of our present circumstance, be advised, who we are shows up most when we face the worst. Our coping skills might need a tune up. Find your how to below.
from the inside out, coping in difficult seasons
Over the years, working with troubled people in various churches, neighborhoods, and inviting people into my own home, I saw some of the same train wrecks played out over and over. At first it was bewildering to encounter people caught in cycles of drugs or drinking, gambling, violence, abuse, or crime and watch them return to these old habits again and again.
Some people learn to cope with difficulty in ways that are ineffective or destructive.
Clearly, many need comprehensive outside help to escape the destruction.
It isn’t always obvious at first either, but for many, no amount of outside “help” makes much difference when things get stressful or difficult.
In reality, if change doesn’t happen from the inside out, you or someone you love may return to old habits and addictions when they are under stress and trying to cope.
People return to what they know. If the person in difficult circumstances hasn’t changed what they run to when things get hard, they will stay in the cycle of destruction.
So, how do people caught up in the cycles of destruction or despair cope in new ways?
We have to create a new foundation, and at the same time learn new strategies for coping. With new strategies comes the understanding that we can’t change much without help on the inside from God.
We change from the inside out.
At times, I have encountered so much dysfunction concerning basic life skills or coping with trouble in people I met that I could not sleep at night. Some living in literal trash made trash out of their lives, and it was heartbreaking to watch.
However, given the right help, people can rise up and become the people they have always wanted to be. We all can improve or rebuild our inner man or woman to cope better when hard times come.
So the questions are these:
How do I cope or help someone else cope with something serious?
How do I confront difficulty in an effective and more positive way?
First, take the time to listen so you can unearth the real problem.
Listen to yourself, listen to the other people in your life. If you have slowed down enough to hear something more than the clamor of modern life, you will hear some things.
Give the trouble some consideration and some thought. People need to talk about difficult situations with someone they trust. Instead of eyerolling, disdain or sarcasm, listen without judgement.
Be calm. You are in charge of your own response. Your calmness will calm others.
Then, gather and state the actual facts, not imagined. What do you really know?
If you are helping someone ask them the same question. What do you really know? State the facts.
Reduce the noise in your head down to the actual facts, not fears about what may happen.
Somewhere in what you or they are concerned about, there might be a fear. Real or imagined, irrational or absolutely justified, it can be addressed first with prayer and concern.
Next, take action. Put out immediate fires.
This is Step One and the most important. Stop the bleeding; stop the stone rolling down the hill towards worse.
Put out the biggest fire at the moment.
Action dispels fear or panic. When you do what you can with what you have, you (or they) will feel less helpless.
Next, get more informed, improve the response as you go.
Imagine you are the head of the task force or the soldier on a mission in your own home or with others and do the job. Someone needs to gather intel. Find out or research what you are dealing with, so you can act with better information.
If someone is dealing with addiction, then they will need help beyond what the average person can give. You or they need intervention and professional help.
Formulate a long term plan.
In our immediate and instant world, long term planning has gone the way of the hunt for treasure. Few people stick with it long enough to reach the treasure.
A long term plan might involve rehabilitation, a move away from trouble, getting someone out of your/their life. and, if you stop short of the big change, there will be no change.
Keep the conversation going. Discuss and make changes
My husband and I do this in our own lives in daily, weekly, and monthly talks to keep our marriage on the same track and free of trouble. It is a source of strength and empowerment to #hacklife and triumph together.
Occupy your mind with how to be as successful as possible during difficulty. Make it a challenge.
Like a first responder, stop the spin and work the problem.
When panic rises up, cast it aside with a working plan. Above all, force yourself to be calm. If you are listening to someone or seeing someone in this situation, speak in a calm compassionate tone.
Work the plan.
You have to have something to do in order not to run back to destructive coping mechanisms.
If you can help someone or yourself with a physical response, then do that.
Work through the steps to cope.
Gather actual facts.
Take action and put out immediate fires.
Get more information and improve your response.
Make a long term plan.
Keep the conversation going.
Stop the spin.
Work the plan.
If you need more information on how to handle big decisions or issues this post is a good one: Strong decision making: priorities and partnerships.
For me, having someone in my corner I trust to address a problem is paramount. I know this about myself.
In my daily life, I have my husband. When I need a woman’s perspective, I talk to my daughter or one of my close friends. But God fills my deepest needs, especially those kept within.
I lean on this verse in times of trouble.
The LORD will always guide you; He will satisfy you in a sun-scorched land and strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Click here for Part 2 on creating new coping mechanisms. In the meantime, be calm, stay informed, and work your plan.
Barefoot and writing,
Looking for inspiration on being at home during quarantine? You might enjoy: Routines, rituals, & inspiration: At home.
Best coping skill? Try this post: Trade anxiety for scripture filled prayer.