When tough time happens and stays, often we tell ourselves that "this situation has to change for me to feel better and be happy again". It is common. We are used to think cause and effect. "If A is broken, fix the A". It works well for machines and human body. But human emotions work differently. You can see that in any everyday life situation.
Let's take a look at nap. Let's suppose two people dosed off on sofa mid-day. One person was like "oh crap, I wasted my 15 minutes. Now I am 15 min behind". Other was like "Ah! Nap, so worth it. I needed it, I guess. Now I am rested so I can be more productive and catch up with things more effectively".
And of course, it has some truth in it. If the situation aligns perfectly wonderful for us, we usually feel so great. Like watching a perfect sunset at a beach. or working for a wonderful boss who is so supportive, understanding, flexible, and reasonable. Yes, that will be wonderful. If you have that kind of life, you are very lucky!
Many times, our life does not provide us with perfect scenario. You may have a storm at a beach. Your boss may be relocated. Then what?
After learning Solution Focused Approach and worked with a lot of people with depression and anxiety, I came to understanding, it is chicken and egg question.
In this case, let's say the situation is a chicken and feeling better is an egg.
We can wait for a chicken to land on our lap somehow and hope it will give us an egg and will stay with us for long time. We can get so wrapped up and stressed over the chicken. Why it is not coming to me? Why is it acting like that? Why doesn't it act as I want it to act?!?!?!? We can end up using so much time and energy over it.
We can focus on an egg. We can focus on different ways to get an egg. What kind of egg will you want to have? any egg? what size? Where do you want to look for? Can we find in wildness? a store? from a farmer? from a neighbor? (In Denver, I came to notice there are a lot of houses with chicken coops). What way have we found it before? What other ways can we come up to find one? How will you keep it when you get it? what do you want to do with it when you get egg? eat it? incubate it? We will end up using our energy and time on something we can actually do and change the situation.
So let's go back to the initial statement "this situation needs to change in order for me to feel better and be happy again".
You can focus on the situation. Your partner, your boss, traffic jam in front of you, bad weather, small apartment, changing and unsafe neighborhood, nagging and annoying relatives, strict school teachers etc. Why don't they go away? why are they nice to me? why do they do what I hate? why does it have to happen this way today? Oh! only if!
We are human. I am sure you thought like this at least once in your life. I certain lived a life like that before, and sometime I feel like that sometimes.
It is okay to think this way. But you can imagine the effect of being stuck to this way of thinking.
2nd choice is to focus on feeling better. What this feel better look like? What do I usually do when I feel better? Who am I around when I feel or felt better? What do I usually think when I feel better? How else have I felt better before? The answers to these questions will be infinite. Because every one's picture of "feel better" state will be different. And you can ask yourself, "of all the things I listed answering these questions, which one looks easy to do or doable now? Maybe little tiny piece of what I thought of?" Usually the process of this way of thinking is fun and energizing. Maybe the situation will change while you are in the quest of managing what you have control over, or may not change.
Now you have choices to make here. The choices are 1- keep thinking and focusing on the stressful situation or 2-change your focus on situations that you have control over. Oh I want to add another one here. 3-pretend that you have not think this way and completely lock this thought away and live like nothing has happened.
3rd choice usually looks like; "It is nothing. It is not stressful comparing what other people are going through. I don't think it is a problem. I cannot feel stressed about it! They will think I am so weak and incapable to feel stressed about it. It is so selfish to feel I want to feel better anyway. So let's say it is not bothering me. Yeah, that looks a strong and independent person would do!" So you will leave the situation as it is, and just brush away your initial feeling of something is wrong and wanting to feel better. Small things it works. Sometime, that is the best choice at that time. Like wanting to go to bathroom in the middle of highway and traffic is moving slowly and the next exit is a couple miles away. Until you get to the next exit, the best thing is not thinking about bodily urge and a bathroom. But often for chronic stressful situation, it will eat us slowly. Ignoring the initial feel of "hey, I want to feel differently. I don't like this situation" will not end really good inside of us.
Choice is yours. Pick the one that you feel the most comfortable and want.
If you want to choose something different than the one you usually use, often you feel very scared. Doing something different can be scary. Of course! Especially if you are use to choosing 3rd choice. Making wave, speaking up, doing something different, admitting that you do not like something happening to you or around you. Yes, it can be so scary. I am glad you acknowledging this scary feeling because it is important for you to make sure that you are not making hasty decision, you are safe, and you are making best decision for you.
Which do you want to take care now and which do you want to put higher priority? Still if you choose to pick different ways of dealing with stress, I want to ask you "what would make this move somewhat easier?" and "what will be helpful for you to move inch closer to focusing different way?" We all need help and little ladders to move in different direction at times.