HOW DO I COPE WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH?

You Can Go Through This

Yes, life often gets really tough. There comes a season of life when it seems you don’t know how to do anything, or it just seems things don’t go as expected. In this phase, you may be lacking in opportunities to add value to humanity (e.g. being jobless, broke), or there is a desire you want so badly but it just seems to elude you. In order to prove yourself that you are not lazy, bereft of ideas, and appearing to people as ‘tough’, you may find you are trying out many things; or seeking to grab just anything or anyone you can find. You venture into one, meet challenges, then quickly move into another thing, then into another, then into another, only each time the frustration and desperation get deeper. This may lead to exasperation and eventually depression.

One of the common mistakes that people also make in this phase of their lives is to keep lobbying around people seeking handouts from just anybody that cares to listen, and some other times, seeking just anything. When asked, “What can you do, or what do you want?” The default response is usually, “Anything!”

According to Abraham Maslow, the greatest need of mankind is the need for survival. But the question is, “Can someone transcend this obvious need and still be able to cope with life?” The answer is, “Yes!” But then arises another question, “How is this possible especially in Africa, where there are no support systems for people going through hard times?”

Sit down and evaluate. One mistake many make in times like this is to blame everyone else but themselves. For them, they believe they are in a mess because of what someone did or didn’t do. “If only he had…” “How I wish she didn’t…” But such finger-pointing gets no one anywhere. The way forward is to critically evaluate yourself (Are there things you should or shouldn’t have done?), the situation (What exactly is happening? Why did it happen? How could I have prevented it from happening?). Also, consider the gap between where you are and where you want to be (you have to be absolutely clear in your mind exactly what it is you want). Many people get stuck in life when there are no more aspirations; when their present state is the ultimate goal. For example, a student may go any length to gain admission into the university, only to be withdrawn a few semesters after. Why? He didn’t set another goal on the kind of academic performance he absolutely wants.

Ask yourself again and again, “What do I do now?” Usually, the first answers that come to you will not be the best. But each time you ask yourself this question, it brings you a little closer to finding the right answer. When you find it, you usually won’t know at first how it will work, but there will be this conviction within you that you’ve found the way out. A school owner once shared with me how he was in his previous employment and the future was looking so bleak for him – he was in debt and couldn’t take care of his family. He kept asking himself, “What can I do? What do I do?”, until one day he had a spark, “Start a tutorial centre.” That tutorial centre has grown to a school with three (3) annexes today.

Focus first on what you can do (influence), not what others can do for you (concern). Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the first ideas that come to you may not necessarily be the best. Usually, they will be suggestions on what people can do for you. You may find yourself remembering names of people you’ve helped in the past, things you’ve done that you got no recognition or compensation for, and somewhere in your mind, you feel, “Well, this will be a good time to ask.” You may also remember a rich friend or relative somewhere you feel should have the means to help. To be frank with you, you may not like what you’d get from such a scheme.

Be patient. This is going to be pretty difficult if you’ve always been a bubbling, happy-go-lucky person. The temptation will be to maintain that same persona you’ve always had. Of course, you don’t have to appear weak and needy. But, let there be no more internal struggles to feel important and larger-than-life. Dress well, look clean, but don’t feel under pressure to measure up with others. In the end, life is an individual race. This lowly attitude will help you grow (rather than groan) through the process.

Trust divine providence. One of the attitudes to maintain in this phase of your life is that this period has come to refine you so that you can be a better person. Believe that everything that happens to you is for a reason, and you’re willing to grasp that reason and grow through your season. Remind yourself of challenges you’ve faced in the past and triumphed, and know that this is also one of those things. Like is commonly said, “Whatever cannot kill you will make you stronger.”

I see you coming out of this phase wiser, stronger, better, and more resourceful.

Peace!

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