SALT LAKE CITY — In my speaking assignments I have the opportunity to talk with many women, wives and mothers. Over the past few years, I’ve found that many seem to be experiencing more trials — and more deeply affecting ones — than ever before, and often more than one at a time.
So how do women not just survive, but thrive through the process? Friend to friend, here are a few thoughts that may help:
1. Allow yourself to heal
Women tend to want to hurry getting over the hurt, but it takes the time it takes. As I speak to different groups, I hear women dealing with the “3 A's" — addiction, adultery and abuse — and the "Scarlet D": divorce. These are deep wounds that need time and space to heal.
First, give yourself permission to take needed time to get well. As you feel safe, explain your feelings or your journey to the core people or person in the situation. Let them know that you are working through emotions and understanding how to do so as best you can.
Second, find your sanctuary. Choose a place, activity or coping skill that gives you space to sift feelings or be at peace. Maybe it’s a spiritual location or an empty storage closet. Years ago, my friend’s son had an accident. She used the shower as her sacred space, crying privately and freely. Once she got out the emotion, she could face the day.
2. Get clarity
In deep trial, life and people's choices can get confusing or feel crazy, and you can start to feel like up is down. That can be normal when other influences may be at play, such as another’s behavior involving mental or emotional abuse, hiding things or living a double life.
One helpful tool is to define the actual problem and then whose part is whose. Do you have the correct facts and helpful information about the situation and challenge, not hearsay or perceptions? Are you using your voice to ask questions and speak up appropriately? Are you unknowingly enabling the situation through behaviors that seem helpful but actually keep choices in a nonproductive cycle? No matter who is technically at fault, the approach in handling it is crucial.
Another tool is to access positive, credible resources to get that clarity. Reputable support groups and counseling are best when they are established and come from personal recommendations. If you choose to talk with friends, ideally connect with those not in the immediate location (i.e. in a different state or neighborhood), a wiser often older person who has been through similar situations and has used healthy principles you can support, and someone who loves everyone involved in the situation for unbiased advice. While discretion and privacy is best — this allows everyone involved to change — creating an appropriate support network is vital.
3. Feel joy
Sometimes you can’t even feel joy, and wonder if you ever will again. But if you intentionally seek for pockets of peace and joy during the day, you’ll find it waiting. First, soak in the simple. Maybe it’s holding your child, spending time with a friend, or rereading a wise or comforting message in an email or card.
One day, during a difficult time in my life, I sat outside for a few minutes. Feeling the sun warm my face, listening to the birds chirp in the otherwise stillness, and the healing effects of nature all gave me a clear and poignant message: There is hope; good things are coming. Eventually, they did.
Express gratitude for each and every thing and experience you can. This simple act is a magic catalyst for cleansing hurt and negativity in the soul.
Whichever tool you choose, know that you do have a choice, and approach is everything. Find the best way for you in your situation to heal, to get clear, and to feel the joy that still exists in your life. Good things are coming.
Connie Sokol is an author, speaker, TV contributor and mother of seven. Contact her at www.conniesokol.com.