Have you ever wondered what people do when facing difficult circumstances? On those days when we get unwanted news, a challenging diagnosis, or information that impacts our life in ways we never expected, it seems we just wish for things to go back to normal – right? When we are faced with such moments – the next step “after getting the unwanted news part” seems like a tough slog, something unwanted, painful, and often totally unwelcome. We can become overwhelmed and ask ourselves – Why me? Now what?
Should we …
Have you noticed that sometimes our normal ways of coping with the unexpected just don’t work anymore. It seems that when really tough things happen, we need to come up with some new strategies to cope. And, if you are anything like me, those strategies might take some time to figure out, learn, and practice before they really help.
When I was diagnosed with stage 3 oral cancer two years ago, I came face to face the biggest challenge of my life. It was something I had never experienced before – a scary disease, disfiguring, limiting, and one that often has a long healing journey. Some coping strategies I tried were unhelpful and depending on the day, or the person with whom I was speaking, my strategy changed – just to maintain an image of being strong! That is until I realized that I needed to upgrade my coping strategies because my old ways just weren’t working anymore.
What helped me the most is when I started to practice self-compassion and hope-filled optimism. It was when I remembered I needed to be my own coach – my own cheerleader and live from my values through my cancer recovery. And I often reminded myself how to be a good friend to myself. With that in mind, I began to:
And so, I became my own cheerleader, coach, friend …
Most of us spend a lot of energy avoiding painful experiences, but I’ve learned first-hand big things happen when we face them with a good understanding of our values and hope-filled optimism – it helps! It doesn’t make the tough stuff go away, but it helps give new insights.
So let me start by defining “values” and “hope-filled optimism”. I’ll give you a sneak peek at something I wrote in my book: Embrace Life Embrace Hope: Cultivating Wholeness, Resilience, and Margin Through the Unexpected that is coming out in April 2023.
Values: “Values are the things we believe are of greatest importance in how we live our lives.
They typically focus on the present moment and can serve as a standard from which we make choices and use resources.”(Buszowski, Fern E.M., Embrace Life Embrace Hope, 2023, pg. 44)
When we live life from our values we are can learn more about what motivates us and bee presented with an opportunity to cultivate hope-filled kind of optimism. We can do this through using words that embody our values. For example, if my values include words such as: gentleness, cooperation, fair, helpful, and thoughtful. I can ask myself how are my values being mirrored back to me in my words to myself and the thoughts that I have?
Hope-filled optimism: Hope-filled optimism is “a type of optimism that acknowledges a person’s difficult emotions and the challenges brought on by a crisis. But that isn’t all. It’s also hopeful in its ability to see opportunities amidst those challenges, allowing the difficult experiences to change us. Hope-filled optimism helps us see the reality of a difficult situation, cope in helpful ways, gain new insight, and make meaning from the experience. It’s about believing unrelentingly that our crises will be redeemed and that the future holds hope, both here on earth and in heaven.” (Buszowski, Fern E.M., Embrace Life Embrace Hope, 2023, pg. 46)
One of the benefits of becoming aware of how we are living from our values means that we don’t have to “fix” our circumstances and don’t have to have it all together. We can be authentically us. Yes, they may be unwanted experiences. Yes, they may be very difficult. However, when we look at challenging circumstances through a hope-filled lens we can uncover ways to see and experience the journey as part of the healing process rather than just a good or bad, or as a wanted or unwanted experience. Each step has the potential to take us into greater stages of healing and bring hope along the way.
And when we can release ourselves from evaluating life experiences as only good or bad based on our circumstances, then we can see ourselves and God with new eyes and find new ways of embracing a new normal – even when it is challenging. Even with all our newly acquired limitations. Knowing and understanding how our values affect our mindset it can help take steps forward in the healing journey.
More and more I am asking myself how my values are being mirrored back to me that bring hope-filled optimism in my thoughts, words, and actions without discounting or minimizing any challenges, emotions, feelings, or situations that arise?
Living from my values with a type of hope-filled optimism even during difficult days, allows me to give myself permission to be authentic and self-compassionate while validating the difficulty of my journey and reaching out for help when it’s needed whether that be through a friend, family member, or a professional.
Have you ever thought about what it means to live from your values when tough days arrive?
Last month we did a values sort exercise. This month I’d like to suggest you pull out those values again and be curious about how those values are present or absent when going through good or challenging times!
If you are a new visitor to Hope Blooming and didn’t receive our February newsletter and want a copy, be sure to click on the subscribe button to register to receive our monthly newsletter from now on and if you want that February newsletter with the values sort, please send a quick note to me at info@hopeblooming asking me to forward you March 2023’s newsletter too.