Life's Challenges and Strategies to Cope

Life's Challenges and Strategies to Cope

Sometimes life hands us challenges that may be unexpected and often unwelcome. Whether an illness, loss of a job, an accident or death, divorce, financial setback or relationship issues, these events can put us and our family into a tailspin and scrambling for direction to deal with them. If we can remember that, generally, we have the strategies to cope with most adversity, the path to surviving these unexpected “speed bumps” can be smoother and more hopeful.
Feelings of sadness, shock and anger are normal when events happen which have not necessarily been “the plan” for ourselves or our family. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and also to anticipate and accept periods of highs and lows. It is also normal to worry about the impact of these events on our family and how they may affect our future. While we attempt to gather information, look at options and make some choices, this anxiety will likely lessen as we move forward in a positive direction.
And perhaps we can benefit from some reminders as we attempt to deal with these unforeseen “opportunities” and try to create a new norm for our families:
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Practice acceptance – Rather than spending an inordinate amount of time and energy on the “why me?” aspect of our unexpected situation, we need to try to focus on the situation at hand. It’s normal to go through a period of loss about what might have been but, ultimately, acceptance of what is can propel us into constructive decision making;
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Work to separate your ego from the circumstance - Worrying about how things will look to the outside world can detract from the goal of facing the challenge, reviewing our options and developing a plan of action to resolve/accept the situation;
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Ask for and accept help – It’s important that we reach out to our support network and let them know that our family is struggling and may need their time, help, energy and unconditional acceptance with what we are dealing with. And now is the time to say YES to offers of prepared meals, babysitting, transportation, grocery shopping… time offered for listening and hugs;
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Be honest and open with your kids – Although circumstances and ages of our children will perhaps dictate how much we share, we do have the ability to reduce their fears and increase their trust for us by dealing with the situation with as much honesty and straightforward information as possible. They don’t necessarily need to know some of the more sensitive details as long as we help our children to realize that they can always come to us to ask questions and have reassurance that we will be direct and open about all that we do share;
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Normalize your family as much as possible – While crises can consume lots of energy, emotions and time, seek moments to gather your family to share a meal, walk around the block, go to the park, play board games or watch a movie together. Spending time with each other can help soothe our souls and reassure our children;
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Take time for yourself – We all will need presence of mind, energy and clear thinking to face the situation at hand so make sure you look for ways to nurture yourself and regain focus. Some days may only afford a few minutes of breathing time and others longer… but time each day is critical for focus and rejuvenation;
*Allow your family to process change - Be gentle with yourself and your children as we all need time to adapt to the new norm in our lives. It’s important to listen to our kids’ concerns, hurts, fears and questions and sometimes the best response is simply to reassure them that we also struggle with the changes…”me too” can be so comforting as they realize that we also miss the ways things were;
*Draw on your faith – Embracing your church community, seeking direction from our minister, prayer and meditation can be extraordinary sources of strength for us and our family. In fact, it is through our faith and beliefs that we uncover the courage, compassion and power to sustain us in difficult times;
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Show Gratitude – Again, it is vital to acknowledge our initial feelings of shock, uncertainty, loss, grief or despair. However, after a while, it is also important to reach out to see what is good and positive in our life and the lives of our family members. These moments of gratitude can propel us toward healing and regaining the joy in the minutes that are filled with beauty, calmness, optimism and hope;
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Seek professional help – There are wonderful experts trained to help our family process through times of uncertainty, change and challenges. More than likely we are struggling with issues unfamiliar to all and having the support of an outside professional can add perspective and ease everyone in their journey to feel healthy again.


While we all hope to experience and enjoy the best situations in life, challenges are inevitable. As we deal with unexpected circumstances, it is important to allow each member of our family permission to process through these changes at his/her own pace, with respect and unconditional acceptance for each other’s needs and perspectives. Resolving problems together can serve as opportunities for growth and allow us the chance to demonstrate the resiliency, the strength and the love we share as we all look forward to a brighter day.