finding courage

How to React to Hard Moments

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All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me.“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney

Who among us has not been kicked in the teeth by life? We all have. It’s a wonder we aren’t all wearing dentures. Like a pop-up violent thunderstorm on an otherwise beautiful day, this is how we grow as people. Or, it’s how we fall apart. Finding courage amongst the rubble is the key that unlocks our growth. How we react means everything.

Recently my eldest daughter fell into one of these storms. Some of it was her own doing, and some of it being caught up in a stereotypical “mean girls” situation. She walks in competitive circles by the things she is passionate about. Within those circles can be found much jealousy, envy, and pride. As her dad, I’ve taught her how to carry herself in both the good and bad moments. I’m pleased with her reaction in the aftermath. She’s learned well. During this hard stretch, I see a woman taking shape from a girl.

How do we react in life’s hard moments? Here is the same advice I’ve taught my daughter.

Find the High Road and Stay There

After the rescue, damage control is the first thing to do in an emergency. If a building is burning, the attempt is made to contain the fire to that one location. Our initial reactions to tough moments are going to determine how much worse it gets. If we lash out in anger and act irrationally, the whole block is going to be set on fire. Breathe. Find the high road and immediately place yourself on it. Experience is a great teacher. If you’ve ever burned a block down figuratively, you know. Only a fool would do that again.

Self-Analyzing and Correcting

This is a critical step in personal growth. It requires honest self-awareness and taking responsibility for our actions. Once the event is contained, it’s time to analyze deeply where and what went wrong. How did our behavior help or hinder the situation? Where were we at fault? Most importantly, what are the valuable lessons we can learn from this moving forward?

Learning How to Forgive

If you’re familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, you know that within it, we ask to be forgiven. We are all good at that. However, the very next sentence, we also pledge to be the one forgiving. Therein lies the key to moving on to happier moments. Holding grudges and seeking revenge are first rate life destroyers. It’s common sense. My dad always told me: “The best revenge is living well.” My daughter hears the same.

Choose Your Friends Wisely

What parent hasn’t uttered this to their children? Do we heed our own advice? We should be loving and friendly to all people. However, the people we surround ourselves with will directly reflect the type of life we are leading. My daughter is a theatrical performance artist. “Drama begets drama,” I’ve told her. Being a performer of fine art and cultural significance is a wonderful thing. Living drama in real life is a much different story. Separate the two and learn from poor choices.

Finding Courage to Move Forward

It’s hard. Whenever we are in one of these moments, things seem worse than they are. It feels like the whole world has crashed down. How are we going to keep going? What will we do now? Walt Disney went on to become Walt Disney. Pretty substantial. He had the courage to move to the next. At one of my lowest points in life, my dad came to me and said these words: “Son, there isn’t much advice I can give you right now. All I can tell you is that you keep moving forward. You wake up. You get dressed. You eat. You go to work. You go to sleep. And repeat. It always gets better, I promise.”

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think is the best way to respond when things get difficult?”