Often time people have said to me, ‘Abi, you are so strong!’
Sometimes I admit I do not understand what they mean and at other times I think I get their viewpoint and where they are coming from.
I have been compared to some others, who possibly have gone through something similar to me but who unfortunately did not come out as strongly as I did. Therefore I have earned the accolade ‘strong’, simply because I came out differently.
While I appreciate where these people are coming from, I am also of the opinion that people’s strengths, just as well as their pain are incomparable.
You cannot compare my ability to handle a specific situation with someone else’s inability to do so in the same manner. This is simply because we are two different people. And it is possible we do not have access to the same coping tools.
Tools for managing life challenges, according to me are:
- individual outlook,
- previous life experience,
- lessons learnt from previous experience,
- the implementation of lesson learnt from previous experience,
- personal drive, and
- your support system – the people you have around you to help you get through, when you need them.
It is possible one has all and possible one lacks in one or two areas. And sometimes one is faced with a new challenge, such that one has never encountered before. Which may leave one at a loss of how best to tackle it and rise above it.
Does it now mean every time I do not succeed in a specific way at a challenge, I am weak?
I do not believe there is a right or wrong way of handling a challenge. However, I am of the opinion if hurting yourself or hurting any other person in particular is the best way one handles challenges, this is a problem! A problem that urgently needs to be addressed (Please seek help from your local mental health team).
Where does my strength lie? I say in a lot of things.
It lies in my past, in my present and in my hope for the future.
It lies in my past because I know where I am coming from. I know the lowly state I had lived many years, practically the shadow of myself. And I know I do not want to return there. So in that I get my strength to keeping going, no matter what.
It lies in my present because when I consider how far I have come, all the things I have now accomplished and the others things added to me that I sometimes feel like perhaps I didn’t deserve, I AM GRATEFUL. GRATEFUL that my journey has not been a waste. And if I could have made it thus far, then certainly I can keep going, because going back, regressing is not an option.
My strength lies in the future because I consider the dreams, goals, and aspirations I am yet to fulfil and accomplish and harness, and I say no to everything today that is trying to hold me down. I say no to fears, to anxieties, to some physical limitations and push as much as I can, because I have a destination. I have a place I am heading and until I get there I am not stopping. As long as it depends on me, I will keep moving!
In the practical sense, this is how I tackle problems / challenges whenever they come my way, no matter what it is. Here is me sharing with hope it may be useful to someone:
1. I have an honest conversation about my situation. Tell myself the truths and facts about it. I don’t believe in telling yourself lies. If you won’t be honest with you, who can?
Example, from the breakup of my first engagement:
Q: Abi how do you feel about what just happened?
A: I fee like crap. I feel like screaming. I hate him. I feel like…
Q: So what do you want to do about it?
A: I feel like punching him. I feel like killing him…but I can’t do that. There is nothing I can do about it. Yes I hate him. Yes I feel hurt but what can I do to change it? Nothing. Sitting down, feeling hopeless and miserable isn’t going to change anything. His life is going to move on no matter what I do. So I’m not going to be down by this. I’m just going to have to let go. Let it go and move on.
Q: Abi, are you sure about this?
A: Yes, I’m sure.
2. I ask myself what the worst-case scenario of my situation is. Picture it and address it. I consider all the possible worst-case scenarios and work out what I will do if it were to happen. I find that doing this makes it easier to go through a worst-case scenario if it does occur. As it appears like I’ve already been through it and have come out before it happened because I’ve already worked out what I would do.
Example, from the breakup of my first engagement:
Q: Abi, what would people say? The shame?
A: Yes. The shame. What would they say? What’s the worst thing that could happen? They will laugh at me. They will mock me. Another failed relationship. ‘Ha ha she can’t keep a man.’ ‘We knew she wasn’t marriage material.’ ‘What did she think of herself anyway?’ ‘That Abi girl is too full of herself anyway.’ Would they say more than that? Sod it. I don’t care. I don’t care what anyone says. It’s done. It’s done. Yes it didn’t work out. We broke up. Engagement over. No more marriage plans. Sod it. I accept it. It’s over.
3. In a situation or circumstance such as a failed relationship or perhaps a decision I took gone wrong, I ask myself what I could have done better or differently to ensure I am learning from my experience and growing as a person. I evaluate it and write things down if I have to.
BTW, gospel according to Abi: you must evaluate your last relationship no matter how badly it ended. It helps you to be better for the next person, be clearer on what you are or are not looking for, and it helps with closure.
Evaluation from first engagement breakup:
Q: Hey Abi, do you think there is anything you could have done better/differently?
A: Em I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t have sent that text message. Sending text messages when angry is clearly not the best way to communicate you are unhappy about things. Note to self: Don’t send text messages when you are angry, and be careful with your words. Just because you can express yourself very clearly through text does mean you should put everything in a message. Note taken! Don’t do this in next relationship.
Evaluation from second engagement breakup:
Q: Abi, what are you taking away from this break up? What are you going to change?
A: He said I am like a brick wall that he found difficult to break through to. He said I was always on the defensive. He found it difficult to get through to me.
Q: Do you agree with these statements?
A: Yes I do. It’s true. I admit it. Next time, I am going to learn to be more vulnerable. I don’t always have to keep defending my territory. Note to self: Next relationship, don’t be so guarded that it becomes a hindrance to the progress or development of your relationship.
4. I ask what I am going to do about the circumstance or situation. I ask what my next plan of action is going to be. This is where I problem solve; take decisions I am actually going to action.
In the example I have been using thus far, first engagement break up this was how it played out:
Q: So Abi, what’s the next game plan, going to mourn the loss of this relationship for a bit? Stay single for a while? Or are you going to move on?
A: No. I’m done. Honestly, it hurts, but I’m not ‘doing’ down. I’m not going to spend my days mourning. I’m going to finish crying now, and I’m moving on. I’m done. It’s done.
Then I get up from where it is I have been sitting and having this conversation with myself and take action – do whatever it is I have agreed with myself to do!
Don’t get me wrong! I do have moments and days when I cry and mourn for long. Moments that I really do not know what to do. Moments when I have been so badly stricken that I can’t come to any reasonable conclusion forget trying to come up with a reasonable decision. These moments when all of the above I have mentioned do not work.
In those moments, this is what I do, I pick up my phone and call or message the next best person – one that I can trust – to help me deal with whatever it is I am dealing with and going through. I ASK FOR HELP!!!!! I speak to the person I know can help with that particular situation.
Sometimes we have to ask for help! Not all the time can we go through life alone and be able to manage everything that is thrown our way. There is strength in asking for help. It is to me, still making that decision; I am not going to go down. I am not staying down, and in order not to stay down in those moments when our own inner strength is not enough; we need other people’s strength.
So in what really does my strength lie? I can comfortably and boldly say now, it’s in my ability to make that judgement call, to know when I can take it and to admit when I can’t.
Where does your strength lie? Have you thought about it?
Share. Let me know your thoughts.
You can also send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org