The saying goes that into every life rain must fall. We all have ups and downs, that’s true, but right now, many of us are suffering a deluge. So how is that some are making it through the tough times on their feet and some are nose-down and flat-out prone?
I can’t answer for everyone of course, but I’ve had my fair share of tough times–personally and professionally–and I have learned a few tips that might be helpful. Most, I’ve learned the hard way, by trudging through what seemed the depths of hell until a light bulb finally went on and I discovered I wasn’t going to get a thing but more of the same on the path I’d been taking. Change was necessary to effect a better outcome.
And that’s the first tip.
Tip #1: If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else.
I remember back when I started writing, my husband was away. He’d been transferred to a new base five months earlier. I’d stayed behind to sell the house, get the kids through the end of the school year and do all a move across country entails. That’s when I began writing in earnest. I’d flirted with writing before, but when I started then, I never stopped.
Anyway, I was a bit upset about the move. For years, every time I’d work my way up the corporate chain and I’d get to a good slot, we’d move and I’d have to start over again. So my professional life was move, build, get there, move, build–you get the picture. I’d done it several times and I was definitely heart weary at starting over on the bottom ladder rung yet again.
I decided I’d had enough, this cycle wasn’t working for me, and to get a different outcome I had to do something different. I wrote a book.
It didn’t sell, but that’s incidental. I learned a lesson. And it was to change something. The first thing I noted was that I wasn’t as resentful of the move. That I loved writing. That I wasn’t heart weary anymore. Instead I was excited. Writing and moving was a new adventure–and I couldn’t wait to see where both led.
So if you’re heart weary, change something to get a better outcome. Even if your book doesn’t sell (or your change isn’t totally successful), your heart will soar, and you will move closer to whatever you’ve identified as your new direction. We all cope better with what we must when we’re sporting a soaring heart and moving in a direction we want to go versus one we’re forced to journey.
Tip #2: Looking only at the problem nets no solution.
If you spend five years hashing and rehashing a problem, you’re going to be heart weary–and you’re going to stay heart weary. Answers to challenges do not dwell in focusing only on the problem. You focus to identify, to gain a clear understanding, but then you must shift focus and do something—act to solve any issue.
When you are heart weary, look at the problem, grasp it, understand it, and then shift all your focus to seeking solutions. Solutions hold promise. Solutions hold the potential to solve the problem. Solutions lift the heart. Looking at a problem alone never fixed the first one. Get stuck looking, and that’s a lot of wasted energy dragging your heart through the proverbial sludge and not offering it a whisper of a chance of making anything better.
So if a problem, regardless of its type, has you heart weary, look at it, then focus on a constructive solution. Look for multiple solutions to determine the best option for you. The minute you make the shift from problem to potential solutions, your heart starts to lighten. You’re doing something constructive about what has you heart weary and see possibilities that can make your life, or someone else’s better. Both are potent at healing a weary heart.
Tip #3: Forget blame. Focus ahead.
When our heart is weary, we want someone else–anyone else–to blame. We think it will make us feel better if we can finagle ourselves absolution.
It doesn’t. If we’re successful, then we’re heart weary at the outcome of the situation and resentful that we’re in it because it’s someone else’s fault–we take on all the problems that come with having a victim mentality, and there are lots of of them. There’s a better, healthier, less heart-taxing route than blame to take.
In short, stuff happens.
In short, we cause some of it.
In short, others cause some of it.
The point is, it doesn’t matter who caused it, it is. We have to deal with what is–and pointing fingers or whining or complaining that it’s not our fault accomplishes nothing on bettering our situation.
When it comes to being heart weary, we have to choose not to embrace that victim mentality. It might get us a short-term pass on something. It might get us a little sympathy when we feel we need it. But it lacks the ability to manifest a better situation. If we want to wallow in self-pity and play the victim (even when we are the victim), some will support us. But that wears thin quickly. How much better off we are to accept what we can’t change and look ahead. How can we get from where we are to where we want to be? What attitudes and outlooks can we have that will help us take the next step?
Focusing ahead, we are using our resources–our energy, time and our support system–in a constructive way that can change our circumstance. Focusing ahead can make a difference. Blame, even if it’s deserved, can’t do that. So let go of it. It’s weighing down your heart, making it weary.
You know, there’s a reason car windshields are huge and rearview mirrors are small. The past is where we’ve been. The future is where we’re going. Forget blame, start where you are, and look forward to creating the future you most desire.
Tip #4: Anger is a heavy burden for the heart to carry. Let go of it.
These days, we’re used to instant gratification on many things. So used to it that waiting a minute for water to boil seems like a lifetime. Waiting fifteen seconds for a page to load on the computer seems “really slow.” We get impatient, and when we do, we often react in anger.
We get angry a lot. Sharp words are shouted where in another time civility would have ruled wisest and we’d have held our tongues (and not later regretted what we said in anger).
A few days ago, I heard a news story where on a flight a grown man slapped a crying toddler and hurled nasty remarks, which when challenged by the mother, the man repeated. Slapping a toddler. That’s not only uncivil, but anger run amok and a grown man totally out of control. His behavior sickens most of us and it should sicken us. We all know why. On flights, ears pop and that frightens and hurts some babies and small children. It hurts some adults. We understand the frustration of a crying child, but we also understand the pain of a child—one that child does not understand. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case.
Mutual respect falls to tempers left and right. We all see and hear of it, and at some time, experience it. What we too often do not realize is how hard it is on us to carry that anger around.
We know for fact that stress kills. Anger is stress. For you and for those around you. Doubt it?
Have you ever walked into a room where the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife? How did it make you feel? Edgy, uncomfortable–like searching for the nearest exit.
I remember once my husband and I went out to dinner with another couple. This was a long time ago, when money was really tight and having dinner out was a huge thing that required hiring a sitter, feeding the kids, dressing and–well, you know what all it required. Work, planning, effort, and money.
So we meet this couple at the restaurant, and they are snipping and sniping at each other and continued to do so through the entire meal. Not a single civil word passed between them.
We were uncomfortable. And, frankly, I was ticked. My special night out, and it was ruined. Not only was I stuck in a tension-filled place with two angry warriors, I was paying what to me was a fortune for it–and paying a sitter. Very angry. That, of course, helped nothing. Only gave me a headache to go along with all the other raunchy stuff tension makes you feel.
We skipped dessert and left. On the way home, we stopped and got an ice-cream cone and sat out in the breeze to eat it. That was a wonderful change, and we both totally enjoyed it. So our special night wasn’t ruined after all. But it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if we’d gone directly home, we’d have carried that anger home with us. Instead, while sitting outside eating ice-cream, we let go of it, and that broke anger’s hold on us. The weariness in our hearts floated away.
Tip #5: Attitude might not be everything, but it is a significant factor in everything.
This is it. The fifth tip that can make a world of difference–even in situations where you ignore the other four. This is your ace-in-the-hole. The weapon in your arsenal that too often is pulled out last but always should be pulled out first. When all else fails, this can pull you up out of that abyss that has you anchored in the bottom of the pit–and it can be used at any time you choose to use it. It is your attitude.
When your heart is weary, change your attitude.
You can say, “I can’t take one more thing. Not one more thing going wrong.”
Or you can change your attitude and say, “Things have gone wrong, but things have gone right, too. What’s gone right? How can I make more things go right?”
Or you can say, “I’d rather not deal with one more thing, but what is is. I got to it, I can get through it.”
Or you can say, “All righty, then. All this stuff is happening. Why? What am I not seeing?” Look and you might just spot an opportunity trying to find a way into your life. But that door can’t open until this one closes. And being resistant to change, you’re fighting letting it close so what’s better can get to you.
And I guess that’s the major point. Sometimes you’ve got to kiss the toads to get the prince. Sometimes you’ve got to trudge through the swamp to get to the garden.
A while ago, I had eye surgery. Again. This was the ninth or tenth time–honestly, I’ve lost track. Anyway, the recovery time was supposed to be about two and a half weeks. Two months later, I still wasn’t seeing right and news from the doc was that we might have to go in again and do something different.
When you’re a writer and your sight is down, you’re heart weary. When it happens over and over again you’re heart weary. But when you haven’t had a break between weary times and you’re looking at another one, you can really be weary.
Or you can choose to be grateful there’s something else that can be done. That you’re not blind. That jumping right back into another surgery isn’t a matter of sight or its loss. You can wait a little while. You can be grateful that the situation or your condition is not worse.
And if you are grateful and you can not worry, so much the better.
Because worry is like anger. It’ll chew you up and spit you out and leave your heart weary and in shreds.
But it can only do that if you let it.
And that’s the secret weapon in your possession. You can choose not to let it. To adjust your attitude and focus on the gratitude. Because no matter how tough times are, they could be worse. Be grateful they aren’t.
And those are my school-of-hard-knock tips to lifting a weary heart.❖
© 2009, 2013, Vicki Hinze.
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Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: Torn Loyalties (faith-affirming romantic suspense), Legend of the Mist (romantic suspense), Duplicity (mystery/thriller), One Way to Write a Novel (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theo-centric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact.