Coping With Calamity: Finding Acceptance In Difficulty and Disaster
“These are times that test men’s souls”, Winston Churchill famously said during the Second World War.
The same could be said today, when many people are feeling stressed – perhaps beyond endurance – by a global pandemic, social fragmentation, pervasive injustices, environmental catastrophes and their resulting effects in social disintegration, isolation, unemployment, poverty, rapid and drastic change, domestic turmoil, and mental and emotional distress. All of this can be overwhelming, deeply worrisome, depressing, and can result in multiple illnesses, emotional paralysis and incapacity. How is it possible to cope?
Among the most important and effective keys are to:
- Realistically accept the situation rather than resisting it – accepting it for what it actually is rather than just bemoaning it. It may help to vent. But complaining, by itself, usually doesn’t solve anything and may make everyone, including yourself, feel worse. On the other hand, when we recognize the necessity and inevitability of difficulty and suffering, and it’s potential benefits, this releases our energy to look for solutions. This enables us to find the new needs and opportunities change brings, and to find personal purpose and meaning in the situation in service to others – committing to getting through it and coming out better despite it.
- Most important is to communicate and work together cooperatively with others, both for personal support and to work meaningfully for progress and change. This provides useful outlets for the energy the emotions of frustration anger, grief and loss engender.
- Often, talking with an objective, sympathetic and wise third party can help a lot. It helps us get a broader perspective, see things more objectively, and get our feelings out safely – all of which often brings relief in itself, freeing up energy for constructive action. This is where a pastor, advisor, personal counselor, doctor or therapist can help. They will also offer practical solutions from personal and professional experience.
Most people don’t recognize that it is through hardship and difficulties that we find strength and ability to do things we otherwise would never have to learn to do or discover we could do. This can grow us. It is by being open to this that trouble can be turned into benefit – something that most people, being naturally pleasure-seeking and stress-avoidant, may never discover. This is how trying times benefit people’s souls.
Difficulties make us stronger when accepted and adapted to. They are necessary for progress. This process is greatly eased when people support each other and work together. This requires communication and cooperation. Therapists are trained to help people do this, and are now widely available through telehealth.