I'm often asked how I manage to stay calm and enjoy life without a full-time job, a stable income, and a consistent living situation, all while dealing with various other challenges. This has been the case now for 5 months (and much longer, but that was by choice). I had to think about this: why do some people completely fall apart, while others show resilience? While there is much to say about this from a psychological and sociological viewpoint, I like to keep this post, as usual, personal. From my own experience, here are a couple of aspects that help me stay afloat admits challenging times. Some of it, is genetically built into my system (thanks universe!), some of it is privilege, and others aspects I have cultivated myself. The latter is of course the most interesting, because this is where our zone of influence is.
First of all, I am privileged
Let’s get real here. No matter my personal skills and the methods I taught myself to stay centred admits challenges, your personal situation makes all the difference in how you deal with life situations. My cultural and socio-economic background makes it easier to trust that my situation will change for the better sooner, than for some of my fellow Dutchmen. My relentless trust is also backed by a knowing that I have a safety net. I will not have to worry that I will become homeless, nor lack food. Not everyone has these privileges and that is important to acknowledge.
The remaining points are listed in no particular order:
Continue living, and have fun!
Here's a perspective: obsessing over problems often magnifies them. It's an understandable tendency; in moments of panic, people tend to focus solely on the problem. Due to this hyperfocus, you can lose sight of the various possibilities that exist beyond the conventional path. For instance, I observe individuals who have lost their jobs spending entire days exclusively on job hunting and applications (though not always effectively). They deny themselves the joys of life until the issue is resolved. While this is understandable, it's crucial to find a balance between problem-solving, relaxation and engaging in activities that bring joy. Otherwise, you might find yourself depleted and further away from your achieving your goals. For instance, deciding not to dine out with friends to save money could mean missing out on the very contact or inspiration needed to explore new job opportunities. We somehow understand the importance of balance, but often, panic mode takes over our judgment, preventing us from seeing clearly. This brings me to my next point.
Trust, don't panic!
Cultivating a deep inner trust is key. When life throws curveballs, believing in your ability to handle them is crucial. Knowing that you will stand up for yourself, and that you got what it takes to overcome your challenges. I 100% trust my capabilities to find a suitable job, and I am fully confident in my flexibility, my drive and resilience to navigate challenging situations. I’ve been in similar tough situations before, and I know they eventually pass. I have no doubt that my current situation will soon be resolved. "Soon" is a relative concept, of course. There are moments when "soon" doesn't feel close enough. Obviously I am not immune to sometimes feeling down, tired or frustrated with the situation. However, beyond putting in the necessary effort, there is little more I can do. Which leads me to the point below. Also, in my next blog, I will share some tools that have helped me to cultivate trust.
Accept what you cannot change, and change what you cannot accept
I tend to not waste time and energy, and not give into negative thinking about things that I have 0 control over. Many people would respond: “Sounds easy, but it’s really hard". Blame my genetics, but I have no real struggle to accept this given. What is out of my control, is out of my hands. For instance, as much as I wish houses were much cheaper and more available in the Netherlands, and as frustrating as it is, it is what it is. I can accept that and let go. What I can do to get closer to my goals, I do. When you act within your zone of influence, you can feel more at peace with letting go of what you cannot control. This is a muscle you can train.
I take risks in life, but not without making a back up plan and ensuring to have savings. So in case shit hits the fan, I can stay afloat for at least 3 to 6 months, before the situation would really get uncomfortable. Obviously, if you're currently in a challenging situation and you're not prepared for it, this point might seem empty. But perhaps once you've overcome this challenge, you can reflect on it, extract the lessons, and figure out how to better prepare for future challenges.
What resources do you have to keep yourself afloat in times of struggle? Given that challenges are an inevitable part of life, and there is only so much we can do to prepare, it is worthwhile asking yourself the question what resources you can cultivate should a next challenge be knocking on your door. After all, as the saying goes: The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.