Life never promised us it would always be easy. And even though we all live with greater ease, freedom, opportunity, and safety than at any previous time in human history (Covid notwithstanding), we will still encounter hardship.
How we choose to deal with hardship plays a big part in defining our character. And while we may not always know what to do when hardship strikes, we’ll have a much easier time figuring that out if we know what NOT to do.
So here are some all-too-common pitfalls to avoid when facing hardship.
Don’t Waste Time Blaming
Lately, our culture has come to fetishize victimhood and make a veritable religion of blaming. Refuse to indulge in this unproductive and juvenile trend.
Blaming people, groups, classes, systems, races, sexes, countries, parents, God, the weather, or the weatherman for your hardships is a waste of time.
And whether or not your blame is justified is of no consequence.
You are exclusively responsible for your own life, so even if someone else threw you in a pit, it’s on you to dig your way out of it. Blaming is a waste of energy that keeps you focused on the problem when you should be focused on finding a solution.
This applies to blaming yourself as well. If you’ve screwed up, own that, forgive yourself, commit to improve, and then move on. Nothing is gained by walling in self-recriminations and mia culpas.
Don’t Cling To Having Your Way
One useful definition of hardship might be: “Something that didn’t go my way.” No doubt many hardships are things REALLY not going your way. A cancer diagnosis, your home burning down, and so on.
But if we’re honest most of our hardships are relatively tame affairs, that we experience as terrible because we’re clinging to having things go our way.
This is natural. But it’s not always wise. Clinging to our idea of how things should work out to be can blind us to alternative solutions and opportunities. Within every hardship is a lesson, if we’re brave enough to dig for it, and open-minded enough to recognize it when we see it.
When facing trial, try to detach yourself from needing it to work out the way you want. Be open to the possibility that this hardship is in fact opening the door to something better.
Don’t Hide From It
One of the worst things you can do when facing hardship is to try to run away from it. Numbing ourselves with drugs and alcohol, or zoning out to TV and video games, may make you feel better for a time. But only for a time. The hardship you’re running from will still be there, and often the longer it’s ignored the worse it will get.
There’s nothing wrong with having a drink or taking a day off to decompress with TV or video games; but don’t practice avoidance too long. Face it.
With Covid has been all but impossible, but as the world begins to return to normal . . .
When we are anxious, fearful, or uncertain our natural instinct may be to isolate ourselves.
It’s healthy to spend time alone with our feelings and thoughts, but extended isolation is unhealthy, both mentally and emotionally. The less connection we feel to family and friends, the more anxious, fearful, and uncertain we may become.
A misery shared is a misery halved, so, make a point to spend time with others, especially those who are understanding and may be able to give you insights into whatever challenges you’re facing. And even if they can’t do that, having emotional support during times of trial can be enough to renew your courage and enthusiasm.
Don’t Hang Out With Negative People
When you’re already feeling burdened by uncertainty and fearful about the future, it’s unwise to spend time with negative people. Complainers and blamers, the whiney and the woeful . . . Such people never offer solutions to problems. Indeed, they thrive (often unconsciously) dwelling on and even exacerbating problems.
You may love such people, but while you’re working to steady your footing so you can effectively face your hardship, you need to avoid them as much as possible. Know that it’s okay to say “no thanks” to their invitations.
Instead, spend as much time as possible with positive, optimistic, goal-oriented people who will actually support you, not just encourage you to complain.
Don’t Give Up
As hard as your hardship may be, don’t give up. Refuse to surrender. Muster your courage and resolve to push through.
There’s fight in you still.
What are some of the DON’T DOS when facing hardship or challenges that you’ve discovered in life? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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