When Life Serves you Lemons…

Hard times, transitions, losses, Murphey poking his head up, these are a part of life. A friend of mine once said, “The only constant in life is change… losses, hard times and murphy’s law. So when this happens is the glass of water half empty or half full? Reality is it’s only a half a glass of water. But our perception can mold our outlook and mood. I heard a wise woman once said to never get to sad or too happy. Keep calm and maintain a steady demeanor. An optimist may scoff at this while a negative nelly may lament on how bad things always happen to them. But again the reality is bad things happen to good, bad and normal every day Joes. Another words bad times afflict everyone at some time in their life. Yes certain life situations will make some more vulnerable or less vulnerable.

“Always look on the bright side of life”

Finding the rainbow in the clouds is certainly fun and helps elevated the pain when you experience difficult situations. We had a recent election. Half of the American population is ecstatic while the other side is in tears and scared of the future. But it is finished and the future will bear sweet apples or lemons. No one knows for sure. It okay to be sad or to be joyous. But like a party, don’t be the last guest to leave (unless you’re helping to clean up). A chronic optimist can be judgmental and just plain annoying. It also can set you up for a let big letdown. However, someone who walks around like pig pen except with a cloud of doom versus dust is not much better.

Like the half a glass of water, a balanced outlook is more productive and helps you keep the situation or event in perspective.
In the midst of chaos

There was a business book written a while back called “Thriving on Chaos.” A very intriguing title and a well written book on running an organization. I know many people that choose to work in chaotic environments like Emergency Rooms or Crisis Intervention Programs (I have done both). I do well in an emergency. An example was when my puppy slipped out of my spouse’s hands, fell to the floor, and broke his leg. Due to his playful manner the puppy was named Hugo, after the hurricane. When he hit the floor and we picked him up, his left front leg was freely swinging to and fro. My wife freaked and started to cry uncontrollably. While understandable, it was not helpful for the dog. I went into my crisis mode and helped calm my partner while stabilizing Hugo’s tiny leg. He recovered and Sue was also able to regain her composure.

My point is this. In a crisis the body has three responses: fight, flight or freeze. It does take skills to react in an emergency. However some come by it naturally. The key is to not have your emotional response overtake your ability to react in an objective reality based manner.

In an extended crisis the body remains in a heightened state of vigilance. While this is useful it will eventuality wear down your emotional psyche, creating all sorts of medical and/or mental health issues. So what do you do? It really simple. Make time to rejuvenate. Notice I did not say take time. You must make time. Or you will wear yourself out and not be fully present for yourself or those around you.

Not every difficult event is a crisis. But as they mount up they can wear you down. The root word of recreation is recreate. The body, mind and soul need regular intervals of recreation and relaxation. Exercise, meditate, and socialize with friends who uplift you. Engage in your favorite creative hobby. Or just plain lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling for a while. Your body and mind do know what works best for you. Listen to that quiet little voice in your head. I have often asked my doctor to write me a prescription for a month on some tropical island. But he has told me to my displeasure that my insurance company will not cover that. (Drat!)
Remember, just like a thunderstorm, bad times do pass. And there is always a light at the end of a tunnel (Hopefully though not the light of an oncoming train ;).

Michael Patterson
Clinical Director