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I’ve been reflecting on the challenges of 2020. It has been a year filled with hardships, overwhelm, and devastation. We have been confronted with adapting to a new way of life and navigating stressors we have not experienced before. For all of the hardships 2020 brought, it provided unique opportunities for us to come together and support one another.
In the face of dark moments, human resilience, kindness, support and love shines brighter. There were many moments throughout this year where it may have seemed impossible to take another step. It might have taken every ounce of strength to take that step.

Often when we are going through difficult times in life, it hardly feels like we’re making progress. There were many moments throughout this year where I felt like my mind was clouded and I couldn’t see a few feet in front of me. In these moments, it may be difficult to stay optimistic and keep perspective. It’s when we make it through hardships, we are able to reflect on experiences and notice how far we’ve come. So how do we take another step when all you want to do is curl up and hide from the world?

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”

Have you heard the saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going?” I always wondered what this saying meant. The tough gets going…what does that mean? So, I did what I do when I don’t understand something… I looked it up. One of the definitions that stood out to me was, “to become tougher than the situation in order to be able to overcome it.” How do we become tougher than the situation? I believe that when we have proper support around us we rise to the occasion. When you have people in your corner cheering you on, offering support and encouragement, difficult times become more manageable.

I don’t know what this year has in store for us. However, I imagine that some of the struggles we experienced in 2020 will continue to be challenges that we will continue to deal with in 2021. This year I’ve decided to consistently engage in kindness and support to help me take that next step… to get going.

Practical steps to take on daily basis

Practicing kindness

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with criticism when I don’t live up to my own expectations. I can reflect on a situation and find many different ways that I could have handled a situation better. Although, it can be a characteristic that helps me improve and continue to strive to become a better therapist, person, etc. However, it can be the very thing that keeps me down.

One day, I woke up and was getting ready for work and I had a pretty bad pimple on my face. I couldn’t help but notice that pimple throughout the day. I was trying to hide it to the best of my abilities. I felt as if everyone was staring at it throughout the day. I felt uncomfortable and distracted. It felt as if I was streaming my flaws and everyone could see it. The truth is that no one cared. And if someone noticed it, they forgot all about it a few seconds later. We are humans! We have flaws, we make mistakes, we learn, and we grow. We are not perfect!

But…how do I practice kindness to myself? Imagine a friend approaches you and shares their struggles with you. Chances are, your response towards your friend will be more compassionate and kinder than towards yourself. Each time you notice yourself being critical, imagine what you would say towards your friend and then redirect it towards yourself.

Support

I used to struggle with reaching out for support. When I would be going through difficult times, I would isolate and try to resolve the situation on my own. I used to feel scared to share because I felt as if others would judge me or perceive me as weak. It can get lonely to experience things deeply and be afraid to express it. I’ve become better at reaching out when I’m struggling. Instead of being judged, I received compassion and support. I felt encouraged and it led to deeper and more meaningful relationships.

It takes a lot of courage to tune into our emotions and share it with another person. For men in particular, we are encouraged to problem solve and fix things. This is great, however, the problem is that we all have emotions…and if we don’t have an outlet for those emotions, it can become overwhelming, directly impacting our wellbeing and our significant relationships.

So, where do you begin?

Developing awareness and language around emotions can be powerful and freeing. Sometimes we may experience things in our body and lack proper language to describe what is happening. In one of my previous blogs, “It’s Time to Talk about Difficult Emotions,” I provide basic steps to help you tune into your emotions.

If this blog resonates with you and you are wondering how to move forward; if you are experiencing a difficult time or would like to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate and reach out. We have a wonderful team of therapists that will work with you to provide you with support to meet your needs.

Written by therapist Viktor Terpay

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