The ladies I do a bible study with on Tuesday mornings are going through Lysa Terkeurst’s “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” study on disappointments in life. It really has been a great study so far and we’re only a couple of weeks into it.
Realizing that we will have disappointments in life, both major and minor, is key to be able to get through life. No one is exempt from being disappointed at some time in their life.
Doing this study has made me think about the disappointments in my own life and how they have affected the way I’ve lived my life. Especially in regard to how I manage my time.
I have realized that I tend to let my disappointments hold me back from doing what I should be doing. In other words, sometimes my disappointments take over so much mental space that they zap me of energy, motivation, and drive.
Now, I haven’t always realized this about myself. In all honesty, it has just been in the last weeks and months that I’ve become aware of this tendency. Some may say that I’m depressed when I can’t make myself do what I need to do. And they may be right. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t make a diagnosis. But I can say that it is discouraging when I can’t make myself do what I need to do.
My personal observations have led me to conclude that people generally act in one of two ways when their lives are disappointing or they face overwhelming situations. One way is to drown out the pain, confusion and overwhelming feelings by staying busy. You often see this when people are not happy in their home life. They tend to work later and on weekends just to avoid being at home.
Or when a loved one is critically ill, they tend to be the ones up and busy doing all the things instead of sitting and just trying to get some rest. It’s easier for this person to stay busy to keep from thinking about what is disappointing or overwhelming to them.
The other way people act is what I’ve already described about myself. They’re so overwhelmed by what’s going on that they don’t have the drive, energy, or motivation to get things done. They tend to sit and think therefore becoming more anxious and overwhelmed. Or they turn to social media or some other distraction to keep from thinking about what’s going on.
The bottom line is they just can’t get things done.
Let’s talk about how we can make the best use of our time even when we are facing overwhelming situations and just don’t know how we’re going to get things done.
For those of you that fall into the other category where you tend to keep busy so you don’t have to think about what’s going on, you most likely don’t have any trouble doing what needs to be done. My advice to you, though, is to make sure you do take time to rest even in overwhelming circumstances. You can’t just go and go and go while continually stuffing down your emotions. You do need to make time to process what’s going on.
Let’s talk about what could be taking up mental space and causing us to just shut down and not be able to get things done.
A couple of weeks ago, I began to mentally list several situations that seem impossible to me. By that I mean looking through human eyes, I’m not sure how these situations are going to turn out well.
One impossible situation I’ve been dealing with is my own health. It’s not that I have anything serious going on. I just feel like it’s impossible that I’m ever going to be healthy. And I know that involves eating well, moving my body, and taking care of my mental health.
Yes, I know what to do to get healthier, I just feel like it’s impossible for me to do so. I’ve not been able to keep up with a consistently healthy diet. It’s almost impossible for me to drag myself to the treadmill or do any other exercise in the mornings. And because all of the other impossible situations are weighing on my mind, I’ve not been able to make mental health care a priority.
So day after day, week after week, and month after month, I’ve felt like a failure because I can’t make myself do the things I know I need to do to get healthy.
Another impossible situation I’m dealing with is running the business of The Planning Woman. I can’t seem to do the right things to finally turn the corner and make a profit. To be honest, it sometimes feels like no matter what I do, I’ll never be successful. So that makes this situation feel impossible.
Other impossible situations you may be facing could be relationships with loved ones, a job you hate but can’t leave, a serious health diagnosis, or a financial crisis. There are so many possibilities.
However, no matter what situation you may be facing today that seems impossible, I think there is a way to deal with it while still living our lives to the fullest and being productive. We don’t have to let these impossible situations hold us hostage and keep us from doing what is necessary.
Four strategies for managing your time in impossible situations
Acknowledge these impossible situations can cause us to lose our drive, motivation, and energy to do things.
We can’t just say “that’s life” and leave it at that. If we don’t acknowledge that these situations can drain our energy, we’ll never begin to make forward progress. We will live in defeat.
Once we acknowledge that these situations are energy drainers, we’ve got to figure out what is actually taking up our mental space. What situations are causing us to not be productive and living our lives to the fullest?
One of the best ways I know to do this is to keep a record of what you’re thinking about. You don’t have to do this very long to see what is on your mind the most. Let’s say you’ve realized that you’ve been thinking about an issue with your teenager. Write that down. Then every time you think about it, put a mark beside where you’ve written it down. When you start seeing a lot of marks over the course of a couple of days, then you’ll know this is something that is weighing heavily on you.
Now, I know there are situations where you know that you are thinking about them a lot and they are causing you a lot of concern. You don’t have to write those down. The point is you want to become aware of what’s taking up your mental space and holding you back from being productive.
Evaluate what you need to do.
I mentioned earlier that sometimes I feel that depression may be the cause of my lack of energy and motivation. It’s certainly not because I don’t know what to do.
If what is concerning you is so bothersome to you or is so overwhelming, you may want to consider talking with your doctor or a therapist. I know it’s not easy to admit you’re struggling, but I’m certain there are times in all of our lives when we could use some help.
You may feel weak for reaching out for help, especially the help of a professional. But I don’t think it has to be that way. I know God doesn’t intend for us to live in defeat, so we need to seek help when it’s necessary. So don’t feel ashamed for asking for help.
Make a daily plan.
When I find myself burdened by my thoughts and don’t know what I should be doing, I just start out the day making a list of two or three things I’d like to get done that day. And if I accomplish those things, then I consider the day a success.
Because when you’re dealing with impossible situations, you may not be able to plan more than one day at a time. This is especially true for situations that involve your health or your responsibilities with a loved one. Things can come up or change so quickly it’s hard to have a plan.
So if you can just figure out what’s most important to get done in a day, then you’re doing good.
Ask for help.
Eventually, some other things will have to get done that you’ve been putting off. This is another place where you can seek help. Whether it’s another family member, a co-worker, or just hiring someone to help around your house, there will most likely come a time where you’ll need help.
Again, there is no shame in asking for help. You need to do what you have to do to keep your sanity and move forward in life.
I hope if you’re struggling with an impossible situation today, that you will acknowledge it, evaluate what you need to do, make a daily plan, and ask for help if needed.
Take your problems to God and see what He can do for you. While He may not work quickly, He can bring you peace to deal with your situations in a healthier way.