The Best Way to Deal with Trouble Up Ahead is to Go Through It
It’s tempting when troubles mount to fantasize that you can avoid them. Maybe if you get very quiet, the people who mean you harm will just go away. Maybe if you strategize enough, you can dance around the difficulties your family or your company faces. But the Pain-to-Power path is to acknowledge challenges and move through them, not hide from them.
Here are some cognitive clues to getting through trouble:
1- Acknowledge that it’s going to hurt. Yes. You’re human. Me, too. And that means that life has painful periods in it—some of them very painful. The good news is that we’re built, psychologically and spiritually, to be able to endure a great deal of pain when we admit it is inevitable and decide we must.
Here’s an example, but in the physical realm. When I had rotator cuff surgery, my excellent surgeon told me this, “I’m not going to candy coat anything: This surgery hurts. It’s a substantial recovery. You’re better off knowing that and expecting it than being frustrated by it.” That was very helpful advice. I didn’t think the pain was going to last a day or two. I didn’t think it would be mild. And that actually got me in the mindset to deal with it.
2- Keep in mind that if you don’t avoid pain, you’ll be getting stronger. Anyone who has run a mile or a marathon for the first time knows this. You might be tempted to quit halfway through the race. You might be tempted to avoid it altogether. But if you run the race and run through the self-defeating thoughts that tell you to try it, again, next year, instead, you’ll get stronger—in this case, psychologically and physically. Life has all kinds of trials built into it. They’re guaranteed—even designed—to make you stronger.
3- Acknowledge that you don’t know all the ways your pain might lead to power, and that that is A okay. As I have said many times before, you don’t get to determine when your strength—honed over days or decades—will manifest itself most dramatically. It might be that the courage you developed by meeting challenges head-on becomes most important when you have to face an illness or illness in a loved one. It might be that it becomes most important when you have a business that could go under, but you reach deep inside yourSELF and run the marathon that results in it thriving. Have faith that you aren’t being tested for no reason. You just may not know the reason—yet.
Are you facing a challenge today that makes you think about finding an easy way out or even walking out? I hope you’ll remember that the best way to deal with trouble is to move through it, knowing with every step that you can take it, that you’re getting stronger and that the strength you are developing will be put to good use.
Dr. Keith Ablow
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