Thursday, October 22, 2009

When what we have is not enough

by Richard L. Weaver II

Although it is great to believe that we have unlimited strength and ability, we are truly limited in many, many ways. So often, we avoid situations where our insufficient strength and ability would appear for all the world to see and judge. For example, those who lack the strength to talk in front of others will avoid any class they know that contains public speaking.

At times in life we have no choice, and we are faced with circumstances where our own strength and ability is insufficient or, more importantly, we think our strength and ability is (or will be) insufficient. For example, a sudden car crash can leave us bewildered and seemingly unfit to deal with the consequences. And yet, in most such situations, we dig deeply, or take a deep breath, and suddenly, the adrenalin kicks in, and the necessary resources are available.

In another example, a spouse turns to us one day and surprises us by saying he or she no longer loves us and wants a divorce or separation. Although our emotions may be taxed to their utmost, and we may need some time to try to put our feelings into the proper context, or at least reconcile the elements we’re facing, we still have to summon the strength to respond in some coherent fashion.

The examples, unfortunately, are plentiful. A miscarriage or the death of a child, the death or serious injury to a family member or loved one, a business we’re heavily invested in goes belly-up, a child flunks a test or flunks out of school, and the list could go on and on. There is no end to difficulties, emergencies, disasters, calamities, and catastrophes — extraordinary crises that demand an urgent response — all our strength and ability focused in a specific direction.

I have heard many say, “Life [or God] doesn’t hand us any situation we are unable to handle.” Of course, this is nonsense. Here is one person’s comment about a broken relationship: “I feel that this is happening to make me stronger, but at the same time I really don't feel like I can handle it right now. I get severe panic and anxiety. I don't like to be alone. I don't have friends and little contact with family. My ex-boyfriend of 11 years [not the one who broke up my current relationship] and I are keeping contact and are best friends, and he is the only glue holding me together right now. Things just did not work out with us.” So often we don’t have the strength or the ability to deal with circumstances.

So the question becomes, how do we develop the strength and ability to deal with the unexpected or, as I call it, the “surprise factor.” Is it even possible? Can you even do it?

The answer is clearly, “Yes!” Sufficient strength and ability can be developed and can always be available to us, but it requires preparation, not luck. It takes commitment not chance. And, it takes perseverance, not fortunate circumstances.

How do you do it? What is important is that you have a reservoir of available strength and abilities that you can depend upon in times of stress and need. This isn’t a last-minute dependence, one dependent on the moment. Remember, when you are using all your strength and ability to deal with the needs and stresses of the moment, you are extending yourself to your limits. You have no reserve.

You build a reservoir in good times, not bad. You read widely, listen closely, discover broadly, talk extensively, travel abundantly, and, at every opportunity, you learn, build, grow, develop, and change in positive, healthy directions everyday throughout your life. The only way to have enough tools in your toolbox when crisis strikes is to accumulate those tools on a continuing, ongoing, relentless, unceasing, and steady basis. You let every circumstance become a teacher, and the coordinate understanding is, there is no event, incident, or episode that has nothing to teach you. You make a commitment to long-term learning.

It is the result of all this work that is essential. The result will be greater self-confidence, stronger self-discipline, and a sense of empowerment.

Personal power comes from possessing a core of information, knowledge, and understanding. The power provides the basis for the self-confidence, and the self-discipline comes from the training of the mind, spirit, and body through self-education — the reading, listening, discovering, traveling, learning, growing, and developing. With this base, you begin experiencing new things, take risks, and stretch your mind, body, and abilities to new heights.

With your development as a more informed and knowledgeable person, there are several things you can do to make the events, and your feelings about them, easier to bear. First, stay active and useful to feel like you have a sense of control. Second, you must not avoid (run from) the situation; facing it will help you come to terms with it. For example, go to the funeral, view the body, return to the scene, inspect the losses, visit the ill, seek out the injured. Third, talk about your experiences and how you feel about them. Also, listen to others who have been affected. Fourth, be as open to receiving support and comfort from others (the concerned) as you are to giving support and comfort. Fifth, make time and space for you to be alone with your thoughts and feelings. Sixth, maintain your physical and mental health by eating right, sleeping well, and getting enough exercise.

Once you have your feelings under control, you are in a better position to deal with the crisis. First, remember that you are not alone. Seek out support from a group or from those around you. Lean on your friends and family as necessary. You need people to listen to you. When you find people you can trust, talk out your emotions. Express your feelings of sorrow, anger, anxiety, confusion, or frustration. Professional counselors or therapists may help in your coping and decision making. Ask for help. Take one day at a time and, if necessary, just one hour at a time. Stay active with your normal routines and exercise regularly. Exercising gives you time to think and reflect. Getting sleep and good nutrition will help you make decisions and reduce tensions. Focus only on the tasks you can complete, and completing small tasks will empower you and keep you in control. Know your strengths and realize you possess much of the personal strength you’ll need to deal with this crisis. Remain hopeful. You will get through this, and you will have a positive future. People have experiences like yours, deal with them successfully, and go on to lead vibrant, productive, fulfilling lives. The future may be cloudy for you now, but being productive, positive, and hopeful will set you on the right course.


At, Jennifer Wolf has written an excellent essay, “How To Survive a Personal Crisis,” that includes a great deal of practical, realistic advice.

At UniSA, there is a “Learning and Teaching Unit,” on “Managing a Personal Crisis,” that includes information on what is a crisis, how will you respond, why you may need help in a crisis, where to find help, and how counsellors can provide assistance. Also, there are additional links.

At, the essay by Heather Lloyd-Martin entitled, “Keep Your Head

How to keep your homebased business running strong in the middle of a personal crisis,” gives great advice — six specific, practical suggestions — on how to keep a homebased business running when a personal crisis occurs. A great essay.


Copyright October, 2009 by And Then Some Publishing L.L.C.

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