Sunday, 6 July 2014

Heart & Soul: No hurdle high enough

There are ways and means of finding solutions, if we are up for the challenge.

I hate problems! I react terribly to problems of any sort. At any stage in life, the only constant is having problems. There’s stress in school, sibling rivalry, peer pressure, choosing the right or wrong habits, striving for good grades, culture shock in university, coming up with state-of-the-art thesis topics, completing a task on time, demise of loved ones, misunderstandings, health problems, trying to lose weight, looking for a job after graduation, cat fights and back-stabbing at the workplace, changing jobs, managing finances, being single and waiting for Mr Right, getting used to married life, maintaining balance between work, family and personal life. Whew! The list is endless.

Just when I think I’ve crossed one bridge and laid down my cross, there would be another challenge waiting for me. I thought I was the only one with a constant string of problems, confusion, depression and stress. I used to think, when will I be problem free? Fat chance!

Amidst all these, something else was constant too. Undivided love and support from family members and friends. Thank God for all the wonderful people who rallied around me. They gave me the strength to face my challenges. Over the years, I have picked up various methods of problem-solving, especially from my family.

Although challenges are constant, I realised that I have a few choices when they knock on my door. I can either solve it, accept and bear with it if I cannot change it, or avoid it altogether. Mum convinced me that avoiding problems doesn’t make one a coward. In certain situations, that may even be the best way out and it gives you time to plan your next move.

As I grew older (and hopefully wiser), I stopped hating the challenges and started analysing various ways of getting over them. The bottom line was, I accepted the challenges. I’ve tried all the methods, and they worked fine. You could try them too:

< Talk to a trusted person who is also a good listener. It could be your parents, sibling, spouse, friend or children. I trust my parents with my deepest thoughts. They let me talk, they listen and never judge me harshly, they encourage me to weigh the pros and cons, but never tell me what to do.

< Laughter is the best medicine. Everyone in my family have a funny bone, especially my brother who is quick to look at the funnier side of things, and can laugh and laugh loudly. (To the point of rolling on his seat laughing at single joke while the rest of the family are still trying to figure out what the joke is about! Even funnier, when my sister-in-law gives him the exasperated look, and that makes us laugh, too)

< Take charge and face it bravely. This is my husband’s motto. He gives me the third degree whenever I get emotional and start crying. In his line of work, there is no time for emotional antics, and he approaches personal problems the same way too. Challenge of any sort acts as a life-giving tonic to him. Come to think of it, my father and brother are the same, too. They are serious when it comes to assessing problems, asking expert opinions and facing them head on. Well, I guess men are more practical while women are emotional, that’s why we approach problems from a different angle.

< Write down your thoughts and try to organise your action plan. Make a list. Sometimes, you will realise that it’s actually a small problem after you have listed down the bare facts. Keeping a diary helps too, provided it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. I have been penning down my thoughts since I was in Form One. I laugh when I read about the “huge problems” I had those days. Many years from now, your previous problem will seem trivial.

< Listen to uplifting songs, any song that can make you relax and think of happy times. Daddy introduced us to songs. He plays the harmonica so well and has a golden voice. His love for The Beatles, The Carpenters, Bob Marley and Boney M infected my elder brother and I since our cradle days. I still smile tearfully when I listen to Let It Be (The Beatles), No Woman No Cry (Bob Marley), Country Roads Take Me Home (John Denver). They are all priceless memories.

< Attend motivational talks or read motivational books. It really helps. A few years ago, Mum dragged my Daddy, husband and I to a motivational talk by a famous psychologist. Within a few minutes we were hooked on to his jokes and motivating talk. I bought one of his books and have gained a better insight about human psychology, how we react to problems and how to get over them.

< Channel your mind positively. Fear of losing face or being the talk of the town often stops us from getting help or making decision. Change that attitude! We cannot satisfy everyone in life. No matter what good deed we do, there are bound to be people who will bad-mouth us. Ignore them or get away from their negative presence.

< Take time out from your problem and turn your attention towards positive things. Get a hobby, do charity work, do cross-stitch, dig and plant something beautiful in your garden, go for a picnic with friends, spend quality time with family, get active in a support group – anything positive that will give you a new perspective in life. Your problem will still be there, but at least you will be in a better frame of mind to deal with it.

< Let go and let God. Feel God’s constant presence through prayers and meditation. Go for group prayers or religious classes. Every religion teaches us to seek divine guidance.

I’m so glad that Mum instilled praying as part of our daily lives. She always encourages us to find answers through prayers. She strongly believes that God tests us to reveal our inner strengths unknown to us. Sometimes, when all else seem to fail, God is our only hope. Sadly, most of us keep God as a final option. We should have more faith and trust in God.

< Count your blessings and take it positively. Tell yourself that it could have been worse than this. I always consoled myself this way although it’s impossible in the beginning. I believe there is a reward at the end of each successfully solved problem, and I look forward to the reward while facing the challenge now.

It’s difficult to face problems alone. We need family support, our friends’ shoulder to cry on and most importantly, believe in God. Life isn’t perfect without the occasional storm. Brave the storm now so that you can smell the fresh grass, appreciate the sound of silence and see the beautiful rainbow after the storm has passed you by.

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , problems , stress , Heart Soul


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