Lately I’ve had an inordinate number of clients reach out to share that they are going through difficult times — health challenges, loss of key employees and/or customers, financial struggles, organizational changes that impact their sense of job security, etc. They say they feel like the rug has been pulled out from under their feet. They feel disoriented, depressed, stressed, and afraid.
In thinking about what I can offer beyond an empathetic ear, I recalled teachings from my colleague Bob Stilger in his book After Now: When We Cannot See the Future Where do We Begin? in which he details his work with communities in Japan during the aftermath of the “triple disaster” in Fukushima – earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear explosions. Stilger offers practices that help us find some semblance of peace and harmony in the face of trying times.
Be still. Do not act. Meditate. Connect with your breath and body. Go for a long walk. Focus on what is here and now as a way to avoid negative prediction and hasty action.
Get connected. Hard times can be too difficult to handle alone. Seek out people who can hold you, host you, and help you not get lost as you navigate the confusion and grief of the moment. Seek out the resources you need or ask others to help you find them.
Empathize. Stay attuned to and accepting of grief, joy, hopelessness, and the sense of possibility within you and expressed by others. Without blame or judgment simply listen with your mind and heart.
Stay confused. Be willing to stay in a state of confusion and discomfort for long enough to get clear about what’s happening and what’s next. Sit with the messiness as you might sit with a puzzle – with curiosity, patience, and creativity
I’m adding two more practices to Bob’s thoughtful list:
Nurture hope with gratitude. It’s easy to focus on what’s not going well. Be intentional about noticing what is good, what is working, what fortifies you. Notice and name even the smallest things that make you smile or for which you feel thankful.
Exercise kindness. It’s easy to get into fight-flight mode during difficult times. So, you have to work extra hard to be gentle and generous toward yourself and others. Remind yourself that you are doing your best and for now, your best is good enough.
What practices have you discovered help you during difficult times?
Photo credit: Carlos de Miguel at Unsplash