With all the challenges of the last couple of months unfolding in many ways for all of us, most families are experiencing this in ways that challenge their coping abilities. The pressure from society, schools, work, finances, children are accumulating and impacting the quality of life for many families.  

The Weak Link in the Chain

For many of us, we function with a bit of ‘weak link’ in the chain of life. Many hide it better than others, but typically it is there.   

And why bring this up?  Because the chain that tugs a weight, often has a weak link.  It reveals itself when put under too much pressure, and the weak link always gives way first when the weight becomes too much. 

The same is true for humans. We, psychologists, have fancy terms for it (like diathesis-stress model), so we can pretend to know something you do not.  But I digress. 

The point is this: Added stress reveals our weaknesses. It could show up in many ways, and this is just a sample:

  • Tossing and turning, losing sleep as we can’t turn off our thoughts
  • Worry about our health and those we love
  • Fears about work, death, monies, and coping
  • Irritability with loved ones
  • Reactivity, more yelling, and nagging
  • Complaining and critiquing everyone and everything
  • Sleeping excessively to hide from our thoughts
  • Angry outbursts at family, friends, society, our government 
  • Obsessing over confinement and restrictions
  • Inability to put down our phones, with constant thoughts of the virus.

Does any of this make you or I abnormal?  No. 

Does any of this make you or I stronger, or better as a human being?  No.

Make Sure the Weak Link Does Not Break You!

For some I speak with, the weak link is not only revealing itself, but it has broken.  The chain has come apart, and life is off the rails…so to speak.  

For others, the weak link is bending, stretching and clearly revealing itself.

So, what do we do? 

Accept and Resolve.  This is Key.

The weak link is here now in our lives as a pointer.  It is not there as a destiny. It is not there to make you miserable.  

That stretching, bending, over-worked weak link is also not there to scare you.  It is there however to teach us.  And we cannot be ‘taught’ anything when we resist life.  We also cannot be taught when we fall into fear.  All of that weakens us more.

Instead, we begin with acceptance.  Acceptance of the challenges we face.  Acceptance of the struggle.  Acceptance of ALL the pointers that we may have a few weak links in our life.  Acceptance of all the ‘stuff’ we do not like to admit. 

To mix metaphors for a moment, we cannot pretend that the garden is beautiful if it filled with weeds.  We could, I suppose, just close our eyes and say, ‘Oh, what a beautiful garden.  It is filled with beautiful flowers.  No weeds in sight.’  But if this is a lie, and there are weeds.  The denial does not work to create a beautiful garden.  

Neither does running inside, jumping up and down, and sharing with all our friends how distressed we are over the weeds in the garden.  We could blog about it, post it on Facebook and cry ourselves to sleep over the weeds.  We could ruminate over how the weeds got there.  The list goes on for how we humans get caught resisting and tantruming over the weeds in life.  

Yet again, the weeds will not go away.  We wake up tomorrow and there are just more weeds.  Thus, denial and drama…neither work to create the beautiful garden we seek.  

Resolve to Take Action.  Consistent, Growth-producing Action.

Once we see the weeds, it is time to take a deep breath and accept the weeds that are right in front of us.  Do not cry.  Do not run.  Just breathe through it.  And then we take action if we want that beautiful garden in our lives. (And likely, we need a better action plan than we have had in the past.)  

Many of us have had and used an action plan based upon immediate relief.  We just want to cope better.  Maybe we throw a blanket over the weeds, and yes…we take down some flowers…but it is easy that way.   We do not have to see those darn weeds.   There is no denial and there is no drama.  But we take reactive action, simply designed to just run from our stress and fear.  This type of anxiety-relieving action tends to come in the category of coping with life.  It is not optimal, but better than denial and drama.

The other form of action is oriented toward growth and positive change.  This action makes us stronger in some way.  It makes our lives better.  We are on our hands and knees, pulling weeds and pulling weeds.  At the same time, we are tenderly water those beautiful flowers and planting more seeds.  It’s hard work…this growth-producing action.  

But remember, in sixty days, you will arrive.  One way or another, you will wake up.  The day arrives and there you are.

Will you still be coping?  Will you be complaining, whining and caught in the weeds of worry and fear?  Or will you have resolved yourself to a game plan to get stronger and better?  

I vote resolve to get stronger.  Resolve to grow.  Resolve to learn.  Resolve to invest and create.  When June arrives, resolve to be stronger rather than weaker.  You will likely be among the few, not the many.