State, national lifestyle columnists

What to do when ‘it’ hits the fan

By From page A2 | July 30, 2014

A major crisis can hit anyone at any time. No matter who you are and what you have, difficult circumstances or bad people in your life can bring trouble. When the two come together, living your normal life can seem impossible.

When an unexpected crisis hits, it can cause a ton of anxiety and even depression. You need to remember that life will be OK again – but then the problem may be that you don’t know when. Some disturbing things like legal or relationship issues occurring in tandem can be so overwhelming that you can’t seem to think straight. At those points, you need to take a few minutes out and just center yourself by looking at the positive and taking a deep breath. The inner peace you feel may not last very long, but just getting there for a few minutes takes away some of the pressure.

When your mind is filled with thoughts that scare you or make you sad, it can be harder to figure your way out of a problem, but it’s important to avoid denial and to deal with the issue head-on. Getting out in front of a problem is one of the best ways to make it go away. Remember that being proactive is often the best approach.

I believe in seeking advice. Doctors, lawyers, counselors, and clergy are all good people to talk with when things get to be too much for you. If you are afraid, tell someone. The same goes for sadness and anger. Yes, there are some things you may not feel comfortable sharing to a roomful of people or even with one person. But I encourage you to talk with someone who is appropriate when you need insight from sources outside yourself.

There is a lot of information and even emotional support online these days. Chat rooms and virtual communities are just a few clicks away. From cancer support to financial advice, there is a lot of information and no shortage of people who will share and sometimes sell their knowledge and experience. However, before signing up for anything, it’s always a good idea to talk with a real human being who has used the service before and whose advice you trust.

Long-term negative issues and actions can suck the life out of you. If you have been struggling for more than six months, you will start wondering how you got here and be looking for the quickest exit. It makes total sense. When you’ve been emotionally uncomfortable for months or years, you want the pain to stop. Just remember to show caution. Walking away too soon may be more damaging than another few weeks or even months of dealing with whatever wicked came your way. The exception to this would be abuse or situations that may put you or your loved ones in danger.

I love sayings like “This too shall pass,” because they remind me that eventually everything changes. In fact that’s about the only thing you can count on in life. No, it won’t be like this forever, and when it’s over, you will be able to get back to a real life. It will be different, but it won’t be a war zone.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at [email protected] .

Barton Goldsmith


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