Are you reacting well to the challenges of life?

By Michael A.T. Stewart Communication Specialist/Counselor Licensed Marriage Officer

Part of the journey of life is the challenges of life itself. Life without its upheavals, its ups and down, its hills and valleys, good and bad times and its joys and sorrows is life that is outside of reality, false and deceptive.

Trying therefore to change life to become all positive or all negative will only frustrate the person who is deceived enough to believe it.

There will be rain and sunshine, earthquake and hurricanes. Don't fret yourself about what goes wrong brace yourself to appropriately handle the situations when they come, for they will come. If you want it any other way you will have to wait till you invent your own world but while you exist in this one brace yourself for the ride.

Unfortunately, too many people get so upset and frustrated with their lives because it is not going the way they hoped and they spend the time talking about all the things that are wrong in life while they do precious little to take more control where possible. In everything it is possible to give thanks and I mean in everything. God is able to make all things work together for the good even though they may appear bad.

Your ability to see things differently gives you power to control the outcome of negative events. I was viewing the television recently when I saw on a new show Doctor Oz, a woman who has lost all control of her body except her voice. She was strapped to a wheelchair and her condition is degenerative, meaning it will progressively become worse until she may only be able to blink to indicate yes or no.

She has asked for the right to end her life because she feels tired, hopeless and helpless. I can feel her. On the same show was a man also wheelchair bound, and on a ventilator to keep him alive, he hardly could speak and he said to the lady (between breaths) "Do not give up on life." He is hanging in there with all he's got and even found a woman (who was sitting in the audience) in whom he has found love and hope. He insisted that he does not want to die now. He has so much to live for.

What is the difference in the two? It is not the suffering for they both share commonness in that.

The difference is in the opposite outlook each has regarding their personal suffering. There is a young man who was born with no arms and no legs. He is so energetic and vibrant, he swims, plays ball and make fun of himself. His happy perspective of life is infectious.

Be careful that you do not become so discouraged during your trying times that you lose sight of your possibilities and victory and only see the impossible and defeat. Here are some of the things to be on your guard against when you are going through a rough time in life.

1. Self- imposed defeat. This is when you give up, not because you can't go on and win but because you have given yourself a limit to how much you are prepared to endure. The value you place on your victory is equal to the effort of your fight. If the win is important enough, the trouble in the struggle is worth it.

An unknown author wrote, "If you think you are beaten, you are; If you think you dare not, you don't; If you'd think to win, but you think you can't, it's almost certain you won't." You often impose defeat on yourself for life is harder in your head than it is in reality.

2. Developing hostile tendencies. Some people are so frustrated with their own lives that they are not only hostile to those whom they perceive as making their lives difficult but also to those who have nothing to do with whatever is upsetting them. Spouses, children, parents, friends are at the receiving end of aggression from people who are frustrated with their jobs. They cannot take it out on their bosses so they take it out on those who they feel they can abuse or control. You have often heard people justify becoming verbally abusive saying that they are getting it off their chest and they claim that afterward they usually feel better. If one must shout and denigrate another person in order to feel good then that person has a problem.

One's comfort must not come from the discomfort of others. When your life becomes full of hostility it is evidence that some aspect of your life is off balance and your hostility towards others manifests such. Research has also shown that aggression does not make you feel better; in fact it makes for further aggression since your last expression of aggressive behaviour will need more expression the next time to get the same reaction from those whom you intend to intimidate. A person therefore engages in escalating aggression in order to appear to keep control and feel good; and where does that get you?

3. Becoming addictive to vices. Life could appear to become so stressful that some resort to smoking, drinking, illicit drugs, sex, overeating, and gambling to pacify their growing inability to cope. Many young people now go to the internet, facebook and computer games for hours in order to temporarily avoid reality. They befriend total strangers and build a world devoid of the real problems they often face at home, in school or in society. Any vice you adopt tend to hook you and make you dependent on it. That has dangerous implications for your health and control on your life. Many who have gone that route cry to have back their lives but feel powerless to do so. Do not start it for it is easier to start than it is to stop. You risk your future, family and friends. You also weaken your will to overcome.

4. Self-blame. The lie of all times is the lie that tells you that your suffering or burden in life is because you are not good enough to get better out of life. Reject that theory outright. I have met no such person and you never will. We all are worthy, not of ourselves, but through God to enjoy more out of life.

Often, the decisions we make land us up in some predicaments we experience. Other times we internalise the negative things others say about us when we swallow it hook line and sinker. When someone tells a child he/she will not turn out to be anything good, or tells an adult no one will want you as a spouse, that runs deep into your mind and before long you believe it without knowing that you believe it and your behaviour reflects your deep beliefs. Les Brown said, "Most people fail in life not because of what they do not believe but rather they fail because of what they do believe that is not so."

How are you reacting to the challenges in your life? Develop your skills to manage your life and you will control the quality of your life experiences.

For private counselling please call 868-635-1801 or email

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