Thanks for tuning in. Apologies for my absence, I’ve been going through a really rough season. I needed a break from unnecessary stimuli and instead, channel my energy into my close relationships and myself. I’m not going to get into the details of what I have been going through but I am going to share with you what I have learned/ am learning.
If your winter was anything like mine, you can attest to the fact that it has been a long one! And now we are finally getting some sun! Can you say dress and sandals weather?!
On that note, I think this winter is a fitting metaphor for the current state of my life -hardship, after hardship, and one thing causes another- will it ever end?! I’m generally a happy person who puts on a brave face most of the time but the consequences of doing so can literally be fatal. I hope that sharing what I have learned can serve as a tool for some.
But before I jump in, I would like to open with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote:
“One illusion is the myth of time… “And time will work that out.” You’ve heard that I’m sure. These people fail to see that time is neutral and it can be used positively or negatively. The fact is that segregation horns have made a much more effective use of time than some other sources of good will, even the federal government. I’m afraid that we may have to repent, not only for the blatant, vitriolic words of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
I know what you’re thinking, “Jasmine, Martin Luther King Jr. is great and all but what does his American Dream speech have to do with seasons?” I think, in this speech, he highlights an irrevocable fact about time- that it maintains a neutral position, therefore each individual has the freedom to choose how they will use it and merely doing nothing with will not suffice. So with each difficult season don’t just say to yourself “it will pass”, consider what you will do amidst it.
So here are a few of my reflective points during this heavy period.
One of the best things that I ever did was get a mentor. She has supported, advised, and celebrated with me during my setbacks and milestones. If you don’t already have a mentor or two (or three), get one! When you’re going through a difficult time the last thing you want to be doing is figuring out who you can talk to. You need to be able to talk to someone who is intentionally invested in your life, familiar with your situation, and detached enough to give you sound advice. Another huge source of support, besides my family, has been my friends. There are quite a few people that I know will be there for me when I am in need of some emergency TLC.
Sometimes getting support looks like seeing a professional. This can be extremely beneficial especially considering that they are well-equipped to help you deal with your situation. I understand that there may be a monetary deterrence but most professionals in these fields take your financial circumstances into consideration, using a sliding scale to determine the cost. If you are a student, your school may have free resources such as counselors, “boot camps”, and support groups.
The last thing we want to do when we are going through a rough time is write down all of the things we can be grateful for. It’s tough, I know, but it’s so necessary especially if you want to remain remotely sane. When we choose to dwell on the negative (and sometimes we will) we must remember that it is our responsibility to take every thought captive and decide whether or not we are going to let it weigh us down.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -if anything is praiseworthy or excellent, think about such things” -Philippians 4:8
I have a tough time doing this consistently so a few things that I do are: 1) Pray– tell God what you are grateful for. 2) Keep a gratitude journal -before you go to bed every night write down at least three specific things that you were grateful for that day. It can be something as simple as hearing the sound of the birds chirping when you woke up. It’s also great to be able to look back on your blessings. 3) Talk it out with friends- My friends have shed a positive light on my tough situations. Sometimes what I need is an external perspective.
Use the quieter seasons to equip you for the stormy ones
Quiet/ reflective seasons are opportune times to do some introspection and consider what areas in your life need some revision. Something I personally need to work on is my self-talk. A lot of the time I can be my own worst enemy -choosing to internalize negative beliefs about myself and replaying them in my head over and over again. I know that when things get busy I almost immediately revert to this type of thinking. So when I find myself in a position where I have a little more time on my hands, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up my bible and fill my heart with truth, go to life-giving events, and work on cultivating positive relationships. Again, it all comes down to what you choose to do with your time.
A few books that have really helped me combat this cognitive disposition are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies and Me, Myself and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild. Both books have challenged my way of thinking and provide practical ways to equip myself when these negative thoughts come to mind.
Another thing I have been challenged to do is intentionally rest. This looks different for everyone, whether it be sleeping-in a few days a week, hanging out with people you haven’t seen for a while, or reading a book or two. This is something I’m still learning to do but it has been a rewarding process.
Do the exact opposite of what you want to do
When I find myself in a rut all I want to do is stay in my bed and sulk in self-pity. But in no way is that helpful. It ends up turning into a self-perpetuating cycle. For example, I neglect exercise and become more prone to stress and anxiety. More often than not, the best thing to do is that healthy habit you’re neglecting.
So what is it that you don’t feel like doing today that you know will benefit you after it’s been done? Is it going for a walk? Eating a good meal? Hanging out with friends? Go do it!
This too shall pass
I can’t take credit for this last point. One of my good friends constantly reminds me that a season is just that, a season. She told me “You may be upset now, but you won’t be upset forever, you may be anxious now, but you won’t be anxious forever.” With this insightful perspective, I can now see the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel.
I don’t think that my season has ended just yet but after winter does come spring so I’m hopeful. Stay hopeful friends.