Six ways to endure difficult times

By Hendrika Jooste

No one’s life is easy – no one! Friends and family back home might think your life in your host country is a bed of roses. Some people, indeed, seem to have it easier than others. Yet, you can bet they are suffering from one thing or another.

That is why we should all try to refrain from imposing our personal views or jumping to conclusions. Instead, we should try to be more civil towards one another and show some empathy.

We could all use positivity in our day. Even the simple act of smiling as you pass someone by can brighten up their day. That is how closely we are all connected! While we are at it, I should mention that smiling is one of the best ways to endure difficult times.

1.     Be patient

Our brains are hardwired to protect us from all foreign and domestic threats, and it tends to stretch out adverse events in our lives to make us think it has been happening for a long time.

Yet, the worst part is that you start believing that the bad times will go on forever. You feel like there is no end, and you are doomed to lead a tragic life. Please do not believe it.

On your migration journey, you will go through the five stages of culture shock. It is a well-documented and well-researched topic. It is so predictable; we can see from people’s social media posts which phase on their roller coaster migration ride they are in. There is light at the tunnel’s end, yes; and no, it is not the oncoming train.

One of the constants in life is change. So, whatever you are going through – good or bad – will eventually end. Situations will call on you to act and help bring the problem to an end. On the other hand, with others you need to wait out the storm and have faith in yourself. 

2.     Embrace your weaknesses

Each of us has our own individualised set of strengths and weaknesses, attributes and flaws. The problem is that when things get tough we only focus on how weak and helpless we feel. We lose sight of our strengths and trick ourselves into highlighting our flaws, making us feel like losers who are incapable of rising above any challenging situations.

The key to avoiding this pit of self-doubt is to never compare yourself with anyone else. You cannot compare your one-month migration journey with somebody who had emigrated 20 years ago. Give yourself a break and be kind to yourself.

Then, remind yourself of all your strengths. You can even list all the things you are good at and hang it up. Make sure you place it somewhere you pass by frequently, like the fridge door or the mirror in your bathroom. It is a great trick that will help shift your perception from feeling weak and vulnerable to feeling empowered and confident.

3.     Be proud of how far you’ve come

You cannot have made it this far without having been in one or two bad situations. So, whenever you need a bit of a boost during tough times, remind yourself of similar situations that you have endured.

You probably either overcame the situation or did not. Either way, you came out having learned something and gained life experience. You might think that you have never emigrated before but remind yourself of your resilience and tenacious nature.

It is a great confidence booster to remember how well you manage to navigate difficult times and easily handle challenges. It will also help shift your attitude from a sense of helplessness to feeling motivated to take action and do what needs to get done.

4.     Practice gratitude

I started the article by saying that everyone goes through hard times, and that is a given. The difference between those who land on their feet and bloom versus those who live a life of doom and gloom is gratitude.

No matter how difficult things might be right now, there will always be a dozen other things going well in your life. Is your relationship on the rocks? Be happy that you have a steady job, have a roof over your head, and can put food on the table. Are you having problems at work? Be thankful for your health, family, and friends.

Then there are all the little things that we take for granted, like beautiful sunsets, relaxing walks in the park and delicious coffee. Change your perspective, and you will realise that things are not really that bad after all.

5.     Learn from your experiences

Life coaches, psychologists and therapists all agree that there is no failure in personal development, and there is only your interpretation of the events and how you react to them.

Sounds simple enough, right? Yes! But as soon as you are faced with a problem, all that wisdom flies out of the window.

This comes from years of being programmed that failure is a big flashing bulb telling us we are not doing something right, causing us to steer off course. But that could not be farther from the truth. In fact, everything we now do so well came from a trial-and-error process, like walking, typing and driving. No migrant ever had a perfect, tear-free migration journey.

What you should do is try to figure out why this is happening. Then, use this experience to learn more about likes and dislikes, weaknesses and strengths. Eventually, you will be able to turn things around.

6.     Hold on to your faith

As Christians, we have a secret weapon in a seemingly faithless world. Through our faith, we find solace through studying scripture and daily prayer and meditation. It also connects us with an essential support network through our connections in our faith-based communities.

When the tough gets going is the times when we need to hold on to our faith and God’s promises even more.  

Proverbs 3:5–6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”

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