ROCHESTER, Minn. — Let’s say you made a terrible financial decision, or jumped a red light and totaled your car, or neglected a lump and now face grueling chemo. How do you recover?
You can try gratitude, perhaps grateful I didn’t lose it all, have insurance that will replace my car, and have a healthy body that can stand the chemo. Gratitude, however, provides only partial comfort and isn’t the first place to start.
In these situations, focus on your intentions. You never intended to lose the money, total the car, or delay the diagnosis. Assuming this is true, start with self-compassion.
Ask yourself: Am I the only one who has ever done this, or do thousands of people commit these mistakes every day? Focusing on your intentions and not the outcome, and looking at yourself with the eyes of someone who loves you unconditionally, will help you be self-compassionate.
Self-compassion will help you walk toward self-forgiveness. Eventually, you might find meaning. Perhaps this accident will remind you to be a better driver, preventing a worse future accident with kids inside the car. While this may be just your imagination, a perspective that helps you find meaning in the hurtful past helps with healing. It takes you toward acceptance.
Acceptance is creatively working with what is. Acceptance stops the fight with the self, saving tremendous energy to focus on the primary issue at hand.
In this journey, talking to loved ones who are caring and wise, taking the right professional help, and thinking of faith — all of these can help.
Finally, a few deep breaths are also a great idea, to flush away the adrenaline.
I have used all of the above to work with different life situations, including the present challenges we all are facing.
So friend, consider welcoming self-compassion, self-forgiveness, meaning, acceptance, and faith to your day. No one knows how much cognitive and emotional load we will be lifting at this time next year. But I am confident that if we empower our minds today to better lift our current and future load, our 2021 will be better than what we currently see through the rear-view mirror.
Dr. Amit Sood answers your questions about stress, resilience, happiness, relationships, and related topics in his column. Email email@example.com.