As an EAP Specialist, I have the privilege of counseling many people through difficult times, supporting them as they take action in their lives to create the positive outcomes they want. Despite the type of challenge they face, I have seen many people get through their hurdles easier by remembering the following three key things:
1) Find a Solution 2) Attitude of Gratitude 3) Letting Go
With the holidays drawing nearer, it seems an appropriate time to discuss these concepts. The holidays can be a joyful time of year and yet can be quite stressful and complicated. For many it is an emotional time of year with old wounds surfacing and buttons being pushed. These tips can be helpful to you as you prepare for Thanksgiving and beyond.
Find a Solution
When faced with challenges, ask yourself: “What am I willing to do about it?” If you say you are willing to do whatever it takes, you are well on your way towards some type of resolution. Practice the 3 A’s: Awareness, Acceptance and Action. It is a simple problem-solving model to check where you are in the process and to move forward.
Feeling gratitude is a choice and while it might not prevent problems from occurring, it does help us achieve our solutions more quickly. Author and inspirational speaker, Zig Ziegler humorously said: “We all need a check- up from the neck up to avoid stinkin’ thinkin’ which ultimately leads to hardening of the attitude”. Despite your troubles, seek out that for which you can be grateful for.
A helpful strategy is to recite a mental gratitude list regularly throughout the day and one last time at bedtime. Where your mind goes, so does your emotion so be careful what you are spending your time thinking of.
When a problem presents itself to you, look for the hidden gift. In the process of handling a problem, you will inevitable find a gift, i.e. you learned something new, or you met a new friend or discovered that you are stronger than you thought you were. Perhaps, you found another one of your talents or virtues like perseverance, compassion, empathy or tolerance. By practicing gratitude, you are open to all possibilities, including hope and even fun and adventure. Try out the following mantra to stay focused:
“Live in the solution, not the problem”.
In concert with gratitude, practicing the art of letting go is necessary to free yourself of old resentments or regrets in order to move forward and to once again have room in your heart and mind for new experiences.
By letting go of whatever is troubling you, you move toward a resolution. Sometimes this requires you to practice forgiveness, tolerance and acceptance of another person (and/or yourself) for their mistakes or shortcomings. Sometimes, this requires you give the responsibility back to someone else by telling yourself:
“I am responsible for the effort, not the outcome”
This is an excellent reminder that you don’t need to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but allow others to affect their own destiny. Practicing letting go can allow you to humbly learn, grow and be open to all the possibilities ahead.
If you are worried about the approaching holidays, we welcome your call at National EAP to speak with a counselor for support. We are available 24/7/365 – there is always a counselor available to talk you through a difficult situation.
Laurie White, LCSW, SAP, EAP Specialist with National EAP since 2008