Like everyone. I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on how we can shift our thinking about the challenges that we’re going through to yield better outcomes physically, psychologically, inter-personally, and practically. We’re all looking for better ways to navigate our lives during uncertain and unpredictable times.
What we’re all seeing is a substantial level of challenges, and the resulting overwhelm that so many people are experiencing during this unprecedented time in history. There’s never been anything like this in any of our lifetimes, and everyone is facing the chaos, difficulty, trauma, and grief all at the same time.
The awareness of this reality turned my attention to a concept I wrote about in my book, Living with Intention, focusing on the idea of “snuggling the struggle.” There’s a new hashtag right there: #snugglethestruggle.
What this concept means is there are times when it’s best to provide comfort for yourself during a struggle, so you can get through the struggle more quickly and with less resistance. Think about a two-year-old having a temper tantrum: They’re out of control, over-stimulated, mad at you, and they probably hate you in that moment (and have probably screamed it 17 times in the last 5 minutes, if my experience proves generalizable).
Many times, we react to the dissonance and stress, pushing back with a raised voice, time-outs, taking privileges away, and all sorts of other things to try and redirect the behavior, often with less than stellar results. That’s because what they really need is not to be redirected, but rather to be comforted. In these moments, they are uncomfortable, fearful, and frustrated, yet they don’t know how to handle their emotions. They’re just not sure what to do about how they’re feeling, so they lash out. (Been there myself, truth be told).
So, in those moments, when we can muster the energy and patience to override our natural responses to react and redirect, we sometimes simply snuggle the child to allow them to feel the comfort and the pause they need to calm down, and soon thereafter we hear that deep breath and heavy sigh, the crying stops, and we’ve taken the push-pull out of the circumstance many times.
I want to invite you this week to look for ways you might snuggle the struggle in your own life. When I’m feeling out of sorts, I put my comfy cozies on, snuggle up under a blanket, and read a book, or watch or listen to something inspiring. There are so many different ways we can provide nurturing or comfort, for ourselves and for others during challenging times. Sometimes we need a hug…a good laugh…a walk…or a nap. The nature of the snuggle is far less important than the nurture of the struggle. That’s what we’re after.
Now, I’ll admit that this response isn’t necessarily instinctive when everyone is feeling stressed or scared. We all know that’s when we run a high risk of locking horns and making bad situations worse (or even making good situations bad). So, this week, think about ways you might snuggle the struggle for your own psyche and well-being this week. Find something nurturing, healthy, and affirming for you. For instance, a journaling practice, a walk in nature, a note of gratitude to somebody, yoga, creative time, a good cry, or a hot bath. Select your strategy and snuggle accordingly.
And, why not look for ways that you can snuggle the struggle that others are experiencing, as well. When people are cooped up in their homes for a long time, conflict arises. Little things become big irritations and we start looking for all the things that make us miserable about that circumstance. It’s important to find ways to connect in positive ways and snuggle the people and their psyches to help them get through it, too. An act of kindness, a meal prepared, a note of encouragement, a chore done. And sometimes, that snuggle takes the form of gently biting your tongue and not engaging when someone else is in a stressed state. (Yeah, that’s a tough one—but you’re a tough person, right?). You’ll find that you feel better, they feel better, and the world is a bit better when we periodically #snugglethestruggle.
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