HABITS #202 – Staying strong in difficult times

HABITS #202 – Staying strong in difficult times


Last week’s introduction of The Habit of Staying Strong led to several calls from readers calling to discuss their difficulties in staying strong during these difficult economic times

I heard from several people who have spent a year or more seeking employment of any type to replace the jobs from which they were laid off. They shared the challenges of staying strong when their daily efforts rarely even resulted in a rejection response from a potential employer.

One person shared with me their growing feelings of helplessness and despair as they helplessly watched years of savings dwindle away, leaving them wondering what they will do if that savings account reaches zero before they find a new job.

I know firsthand how tremendously stressful these situations are, and in talking with these callers, I could feel the strain they are under coming through the phone.

Soothing words of comfort can do little to ease the relentless tension people find themselves under when faced with the daily challenges these folks know only too well. I could only offer my own sense that in tough times like these, The Habit of Staying Strong, as difficult as it may seem to adopt, is necessary for anyone who needs to remain as resourceful and confident as possible.

I shared with each caller a great line from the movie, Bridge of Spies. This 2015 film is about a lawyer (Tom Hanks) tasked with negotiating the exchange of a Soviet spy for an American pilot captured during the Cold War.  The Soviet spy (Mark Rylance) was arrested at his apartment and confined to a small cell for a lengthy period of time while enduring great discomfort.

Several times throughout the movie it was pointed out to him that he never complained. He accepted his fate as it was meted out without protest.

And each time he was asked why he never complained or resisted the deplorable conditions in which he was placed, he always responded with the same question.

Would that help?

That question has stayed with me and I believe it really summarizes the quintessential power of choice we have when dealing with adversity.

This man’s ability to remain stoic for a long period of time by reminding himself that allowing himself to succumb to the temptation of negative emotion would do absolutely nothing to enhance his experience.

In sharing this story over the past week, my intention was never to discount the pain they are in and the circumstances they are dealing with but rather, to serve as a gentle reminder that when we allow The Habit of Staying Strong to work its magic, we greatly increase our resourcefulness to overcome the challenges we face and to fight even harder to bring about a turnaround.

I know how easy it is to succumb to the forces of anxiety, despair, fear, and desperation, but I’ve also learned that none of these serve us well. These emotions drain us of energy while feeding our feelings of despair and helplessness.

When times are tough, resourcefulness is our strongest ally.  The Habit of Staying Strong, despite the nearly impossible odds of embracing it, will, more than anything else, help keep you grounded and focused on a solution rather than on the problem.

What I reminded my callers and, in so doing also reminded myself, was that whenever the urge to curl up into a ball and feel down and out enters our consciousness, to, in that very moment, remember to ask ourselves that great question.

Would that help?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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