Adversity is a neat little component of nearly every aspect of our lives. We find it in our workplace, in traffic, in our personal challenges, and in our relationships. It’s everywhere, even if we haven’t found it “there” yet. Without the ability and wherewithal to face and cope with adversity, we leave our safe of treasures open and unguarded. It will take every thing you hold dear if you allow it. Since none of us want that, we ought to have simple and potent strategies for dealing with adversity.
The adversity we face as non-custodial fathers is bad enough. When the ex decides to make things more difficult, that adversity can seem insurmountable. You’re not going to like this but, whether it is insurmountable or not is completely up to you. I wanted to share some of the things I did that helped me face down my adversity.
Tips for conquering adversity
1.) Take care of you first – Ironically, this can be one of the hardest things to do. When things get tough, it is easy to get down. When we’re down (and especially when we stay that way for long periods of time), it is all-too-easy to let ourselves go. Skipping the gym becomes skipping a shower, or maybe skipping a day’s tooth brushing, or keeping your place… not-so clean. If you don’t have at least a general daily routine, try and create one. Put self-care actions on there like a “to do” list, and make sure each one is crossed off each day. If you’ll stick with this for at least a month, it should become habit. Once it is, self-care will always be on your list of assets and attributes. That fundamental source of strength and resiliency will be solid.
2.) Create outlets for your emotions – I found the greatest therapy in two things: playing and singing music again, and shadow boxing Muay Thai style. Through music, I found an outlet for expressing the depth of loss I felt at the dissolution of my marriage. I loved my ex-wife very, very much. I took the failing of our marriage very hard because, like most people do, I felt I really tried to make it work. Music also helped reconnect me to things I’d lost of myself during my marriage. It reconnected me to my family, and to my roots. Retrospectively, music put me on this grand quest I’ve been on to truly know myself, and to obtain the greatest level of understanding I’m capable of regarding reality and truth.
Shadow-boxing was, oddly, my first attempt at meditating. While shadow-boxing, I would close my eyes and try to visualize the movements I made. I would focus on these visuals, find flaws, and attempt to eliminate flaws in form through execution. When the flaw disappeared in my movement for a particular punch, knee, or kick, I moved to the next one. By focusing so intently on one thing, I pushed all the other stuff out of my mind. Without realizing it, I was giving my brain some much-needed relief from the weight of my world. Sometimes I would shadow box as few as 10 minutes, while other sessions went so long I damn near collapsed when I stopped. Physical exercise kept the benefits of the shadow-boxing fresher for longer periods of time. Still, the primary benefit was relief from myself and my stress when shadow-boxing as a mental exercise.
3.) Remember your “Why” – As adults, our chosen sufferings tend to indicate what we truly love. We suffer at work in order to provide for our families. We suffer in relationships watching people we love make avoidable errors, or when they hurt in any way (because we feel it, too). These sufferings are borne of love. I contend that, if we change our focus to the reason we choose to suffer instead of our suffering itself, we will find all the strength, courage, audacity, bravery, insight and whatever else needed to conquer any obstacle, pass any test, and to achieve our ultimate objective.
The Coolest Thing about ALL of this…
If you are successful in these efforts, good things will begin happening in other areas of your life. Maybe you lose a few pounds and feel more confident about your appearance. Perhaps you’ll get better rest, improving your attitude and sense of well-being. Maybe you’ll regain a little pep in your step. What you will do, for certain, is regain control of you. This victory is so important, I contend it is critical to you building and maintaining the relationship you want with your children. When you regain control of yourself, you will not feel like a victim. You will feel empowered. You will feel renewed in spirit, and only too eager to begin anew. With these strategies in place, you’ll have effective tools to keep moving forward when times get tough. And they will.
Something else to consider is this: how could a man who demonstrates self-control, perseverance, and maintains a positive attitude, especially when times get tough, be anything but a great example for his child? And there it is, guys. By helping yourself in these important ways, you make yourself an even better example for your child. If that “why” isn’t sufficient enough a reason for you to at least try these things, then perhaps you’re reading the wrong blog.