Shifting adversity to opportunity

Photo credit L Meyer

Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging

Joseph Campbell

Typically at this time of the year children return to school and many people are back in the full swing of work following summer vacation and are getting set to resume a myriad of activities. This year there is nothing really “typical” about any of this. Many people around the globe have been challenged by uncertainty caused by the pandemic and our anxiety seems to be hovering at peak levels these days.

Reframing some of the current challenges in our lives as circumstances in which we can develop and strengthen resilience may be helpful. Drawing on the concept of transformational coping, we can learn to perceive stressful events less as threats and more as opportunities for personal growth and development.

Many of our daily routines and plans, both short term and long term, have been disrupted. But there is really choice in how we go about choosing to respond to these chaotic times. If we dig deep to understand how we are adapting and becoming creative, there is a mother lode of lessons that may be helpful for our future selves.

Taking time to focus on what could be rather than what we had hoped would be happening in our lives can help us to remain positive. It is all too easy to dwell on the negative events in our lives and keep ourselves in a place of feeling stuck and overwhelmed. Nothing in our lives has ever been “certain” and clinging to that illusory notion can take us to dark places.

What learning must occur in our lives in order to become more comfortable with constant changes – to foster skills to help us become more resilient? And how does this learning create empathy for those around us who are struggling with the same circumstances? These times are ripe for personal growth that might be missed if we choose not to look for it. Knowing that we still have choice about how we wish to grow during this moment in time seems like it might be key to helping us pivot to where we need to go.

Stay healthy and safe!

Let’s Talk about…

One of the things that I never included on my “to do” list when I was getting ready for early retirement were strategies to manage my “mental health”. I had a long list for all of the ways that I was going to improve my physical health once I had all of the time I envisioned that I would have once I left the full time work world.

Recently, I reviewed that “to do” list, which essentially was a wish list, and realized that I had somehow inadvertently believed that once I left full time work, my life would instantly improve. On an emotional level that is. And of course, whenever we engage in magical thinking, we are avoiding the hard work that is required to make a life change of any sort.

Transitions, really any life changing experience, will tax the best tools that we may have in our resilience tool kits. And resilience is about having positive mental health. I am now realizing how critical it is to think about all parts of being healthy from a holistic perspective.

And to talk about all of the many ways we are experiencing the ups and the downs in our lives. Or to write about them. The stigma that surrounds mental health may prevent us from reaching out to connect with others, or to seek out needed supports. It seems fitting to reflect on our mental health today.

January 29th has become an annual date for Canadians to engage in dialogue and conversation about mental health. Bell Canada, along with numerous national partners, has created a social media phenomenon to help reduce stigma about mental health. And to provide resources and funding for community based programs across Canada to enhance our mental health. Check it out at https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/

Take care of all aspects of yourself. And talk, think, read about mental health. Work to reduce stigma about mental health. Really, it is such an important and kind thing to do for ourselves and others. We have the ability to cultivate happiness in our lives and to create more opportunities for the aspects of our lives that help us thrive and reach whatever goals we aspire to. Happy Wednesday!