In my professional job as an Employment Counsellor, most of the people I interact with and serve are looking for a job. It might be their dream job, a secondary job or a job to replace the job they have at present. This much they have in common along with one other basic truth; they all have tough times, problems, barriers (call them what you will) that they are experiencing in addition to looking for work. What differentiates them is how they react to these.
Now I would think it safe to say that most people would like the tough times to be shorter. The person who lost their licence to a drunk driving charge wishes the pardon process was faster. The guy without a car wishes there was some way he could get to those organizations hiring people who happen to be located far from public transit routes.
Problems; who doesn’t have some? Some are bigger than others and some tend to come and go while others seem to hang around seemingly forever. And honestly, while some folks deal with one big problem, others live with numerous smaller problems that seem to multiple whenever one gets taken care of.
The thing about tough times is that they test us; they test our ability to see them for what they are and they test us for how we react to them; deal with them or not by choice. And make no mistake, I’ve come to believe we have a choice in how we respond to the problems before us. Not everybody likes to hear they’ve got a choice; especially those who feel they don’t have one for that makes it easier for them to continue not to work on their problems.
Why is it that some of us deal with the same challenges better than others? Does it perhaps come down to some of us are just better skilled at handling these issues than others? Maybe that’s so because I often see multiple people with the same issues taking very different approaches to their problems and having extremely different outcomes. You might say to yourself, “Nobody has the problems I do”, but I suspect there are many who do have the same problems you do. That’s not really the point though is it? You have your problems and I acknowledge at the moment they are yours personally.
First off I suppose you have to decide whether you want to live with your problems or choose to work through the problems and eventually leave them behind. If you opt to live with your problems you likely will; they will become part of who you are forever. If you opt to leave them behind, you work daily to resolve them and develop the skills needed to overcome them.
So why is going through tough times so excellent? There are two reasons actually. One is the two key words, ‘going through’ in that previous sentence, and the second is you’re going to have some incredible skills to acknowledge with a story to tell when you emerge free of the tough times. In short, you’re going to feel better in the future and feel stronger, prouder, more confident about yourself soon, and this tough time is going to prepare you for tougher times ahead.
Seeing a problem for what it is instead of what you imagine it to be is a critical first step in problem solving. Honestly it’s critical because often what we imagine the problem to be makes the problem bigger and this can make it daunting to even contemplate overcoming. Name it and if need be, check out what you perceive it to be with someone you trust to share your problems with. They don’t have to offer you solutions or give you advice, you’re only asking them to hear you out and see if you’ve correctly identified the problem for what it is.
Next, determine what skills you have and if you are qualified to tackle this problem with what’s at hand. If you find you’ve got all the tools you need to fix a problem then your only decision is whether or not you want to fix it. If you find yourself lacking in the skills needed to fix an issue, you’ll need to acquire the skills required yourself or bring in someone with those necessary skills and weigh the cost of doing so.
When you do work through tough times, you emerge into a period where the worst is behind you. Things feel brighter, the load is lighter to bear and whatever you did to work through those tough times stays with you; you’re now better equipped to use the same skills in the future if and when similar challenges spring up. Next time, you’ll be better equipped to identify the problem faster and work on the solution with more enthusiasm because you’ve done so before. In short, you’re evolving, learning and putting your past experiences to good use as you strive to work through whatever has occurred.
Whether your professional or personal life, the memories of how you’ve overcome are important to recall, and remembering how you overcame them means remembering how formidable the problems seemed at the time. Hence the advice to not forget your past problems but focus on celebrating how you overcame them.
Dark or tough times aren’t fun to be sure, but they sure add vivid contrast to the good times to come.