Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” I agree, but it isn’t ever easy, and most people do give up when the going gets tough. Perhaps these tips will help you hang in there.
When reaching down to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, don’t forget to keep your eye on what’s coming next. Don’t let your healing process blind you from the rest of what’s going on in your life. Staying aware is of paramount importance when you are rebuilding, because your opportunity to grow beyond your pain may not be that easy to see.
They say that “Opportunity only knocks once.” I strongly disagree. I don’t think it knocks at all. It walks down your street wearing a disguise, and you have to realize it for what it is and then run outside to grab it. Changes don’t just happen — we make them happen — and if you want more positive energy in your life, you will have to create it. And that won’t happen if you give up or quit.
I know that the pain of life — relationship breakups, job loss, the loss of loved ones, and other traumas — can set you back for quite a while. Living in your pain is not really living. You need to find a way to take back your life.
Looking beyond yourself may be the answer. Getting out and into your community, volunteering at Meals on Wheels, joining a church group, making a contribution: we all need a purpose greater than ourselves to give us perspective and to make us feel that we have earned the right to enjoy our lives. When that stops happening, it opens the door for self-destructive behaviors, including alcohol and drug abuse.
Sometimes the opportunity you seek comes along but then goes sideways for some reason or another, and you find yourself barely holding on. Again, you have to muster your inner forces to find a way to keep going. Sometimes what you need happens at the last minute, and that’s the moment Ms. Stowe was referring to.
I’m not saying you should hold on to a sinking ship. Rather, I’m saying that you have the strength to swim to shore, and it’s that strength that allows you to realize that the ship is sinking. So, trust your gut and dive in to save your life. What you may find is a whole new world to explore and discover, or you may find that the world you have come to love is still sound and steady, even after a life-altering event.
When I was a kid, there was a poster of a kitten holding on to a bamboo pole with only two paws and the caption, “Hang in there, Baby!” I think of it every now and then, and it still serves as a reminder to not let the world get the better of me. You are in charge of your life. Now go be your own boss.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at [email protected]. Column courtesy of the Associated Press.