The Art of Making Lemonade from Lemons During Challenging Times

by Amy Temperley

The past five years have been tough ones. My husband and I each lost a parent. We had three dogs die. I had two back surgeries and a neck surgery (one each year for three years in a row!) My dream job turned out to not be so dreamy. Believe it or not, this is not how we had it all planned!

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you are just cruising along with your life, things are looking good, and then all of a sudden you hit a brick wall?

Sometimes your whole life can turn around in a second. It might be the little hardships adding up or a great big whopper of a problem to face. And all of a sudden, you are stopped in your tracks. In that moment, everything changes.

Some people would say “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I think that’s a little unrealistic. Seriously. There isn’t any lemonade to make when you lose a parent.

Problems can often be opportunities, but sometimes they just really stink. Lemonade might be nice but in the really hard times, the best you might be able to hope for is a little bit of sour water. No one wants to drink that!

Getting Some Control

Just because someone threw lemons at your head doesn’t mean that you can’t throw a few back. So, what can you do? In every situation, good or bad, we have choices and it is the choices we make that can help us get through the hard times.

Just remembering that you have choices can make the difference between taking a situation head on and laying down with your head under the covers.

First step is to have yourself a good cry. Honor yourself, flow with the emotions. Bottling them up will only add more physical and emotional stress to the situation. Acknowledge that you are hurting, that you are blindsided and that you don’t want to be in this situation.

But here is the kicker – after you wallow in the situation for a little while, it’s time to step up and start finding ways to address it. Crying can be therapeutic, but it never solved a problem.

Your Choices Have Power

Talk to someone – friend, family, therapist, coach. So often we try to handle all of our problems alone. The truth is, though, that with the really hard ones, we need input and someone to listen.

An outside perspective might help you see the situation differently. When we are in the throes of turmoil, the options aren’t often clear to us.

Ask yourself: What are my choices in this situation? If I can’t remedy the issue completely, what can I do to minimize its impact on my life? What is the best-case scenario? What is the worst-case scenario? How will I handle each of these if they arise?

Pick a possible solution and act on it! Make a move. Even if it turns out to be the wrong move, it gives you back some power over the problem. If that option doesn’t work, go to Plan B.

Take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep well, exercise, take a hot bath, do something fun – give yourself as many little joys as you can along the way.

Celebrate your success. Most problems come to an end or at least lessen over time. Celebrate!

One last thing to consider is that there are some things in life that you can’t fix. That’s the reality. You can’t change other people, you may not be able to heal a sick child, you can’t stop the cycle of life and death.

Occasionally, the best response is just to sit with the situation and – if you can’t fix it or make it a little better – let it go. Probably, the hardest choice is to accept the situation and move forward the best you can. You may not like it, but it is still a choice. And choices have power.

Have you faced a challenging situation recently? What did you do to recover from it? What lemons have been thrown at you that you don’t think you can deal with? Please join the discussion below!

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