In interviewing women who had been stuck, my final question to them was: What advice would you give to someone else in a similar situation? Some of their circumstances were very difficult; others were not as severe but were long and drawn out. Take the offerings as from someone who’s made it out of the trenches and is reaching back to offer you a hand. Are you stuck? Here is what they had to say:
- Exercise. Even when you don’t feel like it try doing something. Walk. Set a goal – 5 minutes walking or a conquer a marathon, calm down with yoga or pound that punching bag – it doesn’t matter, just move.
- Cultivate a supportive community. I love that one of them used the word ‘cultivate’ – it implies it doesn’t happen naturally and you have to be intentional about who is allowed in your inner circle. You sometimes have to get different things from different people. Some people offer practical help – take it. Those same people may offer stupid advice or platitudes – ignore it…but still take the practical help! People that are able to let you be yourself and accept and love you are at the moment are pure gold. These are the one’s you call when it gets dark in your world. Hang on to those ones.
- Don’t neglect your spiritual life. Pray. Find people who pray. Read. Listen. Recognize that the people involved are not the true enemy. If you have faith, chances are it will be shaken and will look different in the end. Cling to what you know is true. Choose positive input whenever possible.
- Pay attention to trusted long time friends and family that love you. Many of the women credit family and friends with asking life changing questions. Some of them helped them accept hard new realities. Consider their words and advice carefully. Some regret walking out on family and friends when they tried to warn them. Listen carefully. Discern wisely.
- Ignore future prognostications. “It’ll be okay.” “You’re young, you’ll bounce back.” “You’ll wake up tomorrow and it’ll all be better.” “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Don’t hate them. Don’t hit them. Don’t wish future “stuckness” on them. Chances are they are well-meaning, just let it slide. (But remember – the friends that say, “That sucks. Let’s go for a walk” – hang on to those.)
- Talk to those who have traveled this path before you. People who have been through it and are farther down the road can be an incredible resource.
- Take time to step outside the situation. Whether it’s an evening spent with friends, a weekend away or temporary change of scenery, do what you can to change things up and get away.
- Don’t be in a rush to make major decisions. When anger or depression is driving our emotional car, we can do a lot of damage by engaging in life altering changes. Give yourself some margin between what you want to do and what you decide to do. When you do make decisions, make sure you like the reasons behind your choice.
- If your reality is something less than ideal, work at accepting your new reality. Quit being so hard on yourself. Often you get into the situation through little or no fault of your own – give yourself time to adjust. Work at accepting yourself the way you are. Accept that you weren’t born a completely mature adult. Learn to love and care for yourself – your broken, hurting self. When that seems impossible, get help.
- When you think you’re all alone – you’re not. When you think there’s no way out – there is. When you think there is no one to help, there are people you may not even know that will do anything to help you.
That last tip is my favourite. It’s something I think we can all stick in our pockets and hang on to in case those thoughts should come knocking on our own door.
I want to thank those women who have shared their stories with me one more time. And for those who are experiencing feeling “stuck” remember you’re not alone. As you pick up your heavy bag and slog through your day, know others have gone before and they are cheering you on. You can do this.
Are there any of these tips that you need to take action on today?