Would you rather…

In life, we don’t get to pick our problems the way the popular game “Would your rather?” entertains. Unfortunately, we don’t get to trade in the card we never wanted to hold. But, we do get to choose how we play it. If you’re like me, you’ve had your share of cards you never wanted in your hand. When I was thinking about this post, I was reminded of a challenge I struggled with just a few years ago.

One day I noticed a sore spot on one of my hands. Over a short time, my palms became covered with blisters then with cuts and thick skin. For over a year I fought the condition that seemed to only subside during short periods while on steroids. After many doctor’s visits and online research I discovered I had psoriasis on my hands caused from a gluten intolerance. I immediately changed to a gluten free diet and now my hands are better! While I wouldn’t choose to have dealt with this, the experience yielded wisdom on how we can all have a winning approach to life’s challenges.

1. Choose your focus.

We have a choice – focus on the symptoms or on the root cause. When my hands were getting much worse, one doctor suggested that I take a medication that clears the symptoms for nearly 98% of the people who take it. But, it would only treat the symptoms and do nothing to actually cure me. It was a “sure fix” that also came with a big risk – I’d have to have a liver biopsy once every three years. The risk of cancer required it. In my situation and in life, focusing solely on the symptoms comes with a cost. In life when we’re stressed or unhappy, we can use a quick fix to treat the symptoms on the surface or we can take the time necessary to dive deeper and fix the underlying issues. And, just like my choice, our choices can come with a greater cost if we choose the path the solely focuses on the symptoms.

2. Watch what you consume.

With my skin, I found literally that what I eat impacts its health. If I make choices counter to what is good for me, with in a day or two I can visibly see it. In our lives, it’s the same. What we consume through the messages we listen to impact us. If we constantly chew on negative, our lives will bear the fruit of our consumption. We’ll more readily see the negative and it will impact our emotional health. If conversely we choose to feed ourselves encouragement and look at life and situations with a growth mindset, we will become stronger and more resilient as a result.  What we choose to consume impacts the fruits we produce.

3. Travel together.

A few years ago when I needed to shift to being gluten free, my sister Karen knew how daunting the change could be. She’d made the switch for different reasons. To make my adjustment easier, she gave me a giant bag of some of her favorite gluten free products. Today we’ve shared many products back and forth as well as recipes to make it easier for both of us. No matter what troubles you face in life, you don’t have to travel alone. There’s someone who’s walked the same path ahead of you. Find a friend, family member or a group to join who can help you navigate the challenging chapters of life. Who knows, there might just be a Facebook group or Pinterest board out there with encouragement that can lighten your load.

4. Unleash the power of your story.

Use your story and your journey to encourage someone else.  Too often we feel like we’re the only one who struggles with our particular burden. When we’re vulnerable and share appropriately with others, we can lighten their load. Our progress can encourage someone else struggling to make sense of their challenges. And, the speedbumps we’ve encountered can be turned into starting blocks that help someone else push forward when they didn’t know it was possible. Be willing to use your story to foster resilience in someone hungry to find a way. I’ve met several people who said they’ve never known anyone else who has dealt with psoriasis. My sharing with them encouraged them and gave them hope. Be open to where you might be nudge to share too.

5. Don’t forget the obvious.

When faced with a problem or even a crisis, we can jump into survival mode before we even realize what we’re dealing with. Don’t forget the obvious – pray! If you want peace in the middle of your chaos, prayer can provide an anchor in the storm. I’ve face many challenges in life with confidence and peace because of the power of prayer. Be sure to unleash it’s power the next time your dealing with a problem.

It’s your turn

How do you empower yourself when you face life’s unexpected challenges? Do you have a secret winning approach? Or, have these ideas resonated with you? Comment to join the conversation. I’d love to hear from you!

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Until next time friends, be blessed!