Prayers to get through tough times

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A Prayer Guide Through Tough Times

Psalm 91: A Prayer Guide Through Tough Times
by: Jeanie Rose

When things get tough, people of faith and prayer turn to Psalm 91 for strength and encouragement. With great stress, the mind can go a bit wacky with fretting, fear, negative self-talk. Having a ready-made guide for reflection and prayer is essential at times like this. Without a guide, you usually end up endlessly going around the same mountain of anxiety.

So if life is a struggle for you right now, do yourself a favor. Print off a copy of Psalm 91. In fact, print off several copies…each one from a different translation. Go the gamut. Start with the antiquity of the King James and move to the more contextual interpretation of the Amplified Bible to the conversational tone of The Message or The Living Bible.

Once you have your copies, you will use them to amp up your prayer life and renew your mind according to the truth and promises of God. Sound good? It’s better than good. What you are about to embark on is powerful, life-changing, faith building.

Follow any one or all of the following suggestions for putting Psalm 91 to work in your life:

One: Slowly read over each of the translations of the Psalm at least three times a day. Focus. This is not busy work. This is spiritual nourishment for your soul. Continue with this practice indefinitely, just like you continue to eat food on a daily basis. Over time you will have the verses memorized. Naturally some translations will resonate more fully with you than do others. Then a new day will dawn when you hear Psalm 91 playing in your self talk. Eureka! You now have a potent weapon for keeping your thinking in check, staying faith-filled, positive, forward moving. Victory is at hand. Two: Record your translations of Psalm 91 onto your computer or some recording device, then copy the recording to your ipod, mobile phone, CD or the like. Play the recording at least twice a day where you give focused attention to the content. In addition, play Psalm 91 as white noise where your subconscious can work with it. White noise is especially effective at overcoming the negative thinking. So, consider this “white noise” playing through the night as you sleep. This is especially effective if you have trouble going to sleep or a tendency to wake through the night. Many use this technique when suffering the grief of a death or divorce, or suffering any type of physical pain. Three: Keep a Psalm 91 journal. Twice a day write out one of the translations into your journal. Notice this is written out by hand. Doing this activity on the computer will not render the same fine results. There is something about the way your hand and your brain are connected in this activity that effects your sub-conscious mind – for the better of course. Naturally, over a period of time you will find that you have memorized Psalm 91 from more than one translation. You will also begin having insights into the meaning of the verses. This is gold! Record it in your journal. Eventually you will have a journal full of encouragement that will stagger your mind. You will realize the energizing work of the Holy Spirit in these insights. Gold, pure gold! Four: Embark on a study of Psalm 91. An excellent free e-course is available. Get started today. Five: Use video meditations based on Psalm 91 on a daily basis to encourage your heart and feed your soul. Copy them to a DVD. Upload them to your hard drive or your phone. Keep them close for a quick dose of spiritual plasma. Remain faithful to any one or more of these Psalm 91 practices and the sink-hole of fretful thinking will be history…past history. Tools for change are available and they are free. Use them liberally for this life-changing experience.

www.darknesstolightmedia.com

Clinical psychologist Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D, knows a lot about tough times. Her youngest sister died from cancer at 8 years old. In 2007, another sister and her sister’s husband died within two months of each other. At the time, Hibbert was just several weeks away from giving birth to her fourth child. Almost overnight, she inherited her nephews and became a mom of six.

“I have been a daughter in grief, a sister in grief, and a mother raising kids in grief. I know it is not easy.”

But when you do the work to overcome your difficult experiences, you can heal. “And, when we choose to do it together, our families really can become even better in the end,” said Hibbert, also author of the forthcoming memoir This Is How We Grow.

Maybe you’re going through a similar experience or are grieving another kind of loss: a romantic relationship, a friendship, a job, a house. Or maybe there’s a completely different kind of stressor in your life. Whatever you’re struggling with, here are 14 expert tips to help.

1. Acknowledge and feel your feelings.

“Avoiding your negative emotion may feel like an effective stopgap measure, but in fact it simply postpones, and perhaps escalates and exacerbates, a flood of negative emotion sometime in the future,” said John Duffy, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens.

Ignoring your emotions is “like trying to run away from something that’s right on your shoulder. The only way to truly be free is to stop and face your emotions,” said Hibbert, who also specializes in women’s mental health, postpartum issues and parenting.

Still, you might worry that your emotions will be too overwhelming. While this can happen, people tend to get stuck because they’re actually not feeling their emotions, Hibbert said. “Instead, they think about, wallow in, and replay events. But they are not letting themselves really feel the pain, loss, sadness, anger, that is lurking within.”

Hibbert developed a method called TEARS – “Talking, Exercising, Artistic expression, Recording or writing experiences, and Sobbing” – to help individuals cope with their emotions, particularly with grief. “These five things can give us something to do when feeling overwhelmed by life stress.”

She also suggested clients set a time limit to feel their emotions every day. Even 15 minutes can help to process your emotions.

Don’t judge or rationalize away your feelings, said Joyce Marter, LCPC, a therapist and owner of the counseling practice Urban Balance. “ccept them as part of your journey.”

2. Talk about it.

“When people bottle up challenging situations, the problems grow and mutate into horrible worries and anxieties,” said Ryan Howes, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the blog “In Therapy.” Talking about your troubles, however, helps you better understand your own fears and get valuable feedback from others, “who have probably experienced similar levels of distress and can give you the perspective you need.”

3. Try to see past the hardship.

When you’re in a crisis, it’s hard to see any upside. But, with some distance, you may be able to see the situation in a different light. According to Howes:

You lost your job? Well, you’ve lost some in the past, and always landed on your feet. You had a fight with your spouse? Well, historically, you tend to bounce back. You had a panic attack? Most of your life hasn’t included panic, so we can assume most of your future won’t as well.

Some lost jobs lead to better jobs, some broken relationships lead to relationships that are a better fit, and some panic leads to finally getting the help you need.

4. Prioritize self-care.

“ is absolutely necessary to survive tough situations,” said Marter, who also pens the Psych Central blog “The Psychology of Success in Business.” “ou won’t be of any help to others if you are incapacitated,” Howes said.

While you might not have time for your usual healthy habits, you can still take good care of yourself. For instance, if you can’t prepare a nutritious meal, keep protein bars in your bag, she said. If you can’t go to the gym for an hour, take a 10- to 15-minute walk around the block to “relieve physical tension and clear the cobwebs in your mind.”

Ten minutes of meditating or a 20-minute power nap also helps, she said. Remember that a stressful situation isn’t a sprint; sometimes “it may be more of a marathon. need to pace and take the necessary time to rest to reboot your mind and body.”

5. Consider if you’re experiencing a catastrophe or an inconvenience.

Sometimes we magnify problems, turning a fixable concern into a calamity. Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., a psychotherapist, author and teacher, shared a family lesson about viewing issues more accurately.

My great grandmother gave our family a very important key to coping with difficult situations in life. She suggested that if anything can be fixed with money, it is not really a problem. This rule has been very important in my life as a reminder that so often we create catastrophes where there are sometimes inconveniences.

6. Practice acceptance.

“Let go of that which you cannot control,” Marter said. To start, make a list of everything you don’t have control over. These are the things you can stop worrying about.

“During a moment of meditation or prayer, visualize handing those items over to your higher power and letting them go. Then focus on what you can control, like your self-care, your words, your actions and your decisions.”

7. Ask for help.

You might assume that you can and should handle this difficult time on your own. Many people do. But, interestingly, when Duffy talks to his clients, most say they’d never expect others to manage similar situations alone. “We need to relinquish control, ask for help, and receive it with grace.”

When asking for help, you may need to be direct. Let others know what you need, such as “support and compassion,” and what you don’t need, such as “ criticiz my slowness to heal,” said Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Living with Depression.

Seeking support from your loved ones also strengthens those relationships. According to Hibbert, “amilies and friends who can be there for each other, who can listen, talk about things, and openly feel together, not only help the individuals heal, but protect and strengthen the relationships that, in times of stress, are otherwise too often neglected.”

And remember that there are many kinds of support. “Support may come in the form of family, friends, co-workers, a doctor, therapist, support group or even your higher power,” Marter said.

8. Limit time with toxic people.

Serani suggested spending less time – or no time – with toxic people. These are individuals who are not supportive or reliable and don’t have your best interest at heart. They don’t listen to you, and might even be critical, judgmental or demanding. After being with them, you feel drained and depleted. In other words, they make you feel worse.

9. Stay grounded in the present.

“Practice mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga, are excellent for the mind and body when going through a crisis,” Marter said.

10. Call an end to the crisis.

“Far too often, we allow crisis to define our lives and mindsets for way, way too long,” Duffy said. We burn out, become more anxious and depressed and have less energy and focus to find effective solutions, he said.

Calling an end to the crisis helps you shift into a calmer and more solution-focused state of mind.

For instance, Duffy worked with a woman who was grieving the dissolution of her marriage and going through a lengthy divorce process. “One day, we agreed that, though she did not have the power to end the marriage in the immediate run, she did have the choice to end the crisis she was suffering.” She still has to deal with attorney calls and paperwork. “But she is not in crisis.”

11. Observe the situation as an outsider.

“Take a ‘crisis break’ in which you relax and observe the situation as if you were an outsider, hearing about the circumstance from a friend or maybe a co-worker,” Duffy said. Take several deep breaths, and focus on your intuition. “You are very likely to derive some useful thoughts you would not have come upon within the midst of your anxious state.”

12. Just take action.

“If you don’t know what to do, do something,” Howes said. “Make a list, make some phone calls, gather some information.” Avoiding a situation only adds to your anxiety and “what ifs,” he said. Taking action is empowering.

13. Remember that you are not your difficult time.

As Marter said, “You are not your problems or your crisis. You are not your divorce, your illness, your trauma or your bank account. Your true self is that deeper entity within that is perfectly whole and well no matter what you are experiencing.”

14. Remember that everyone heals differently.

“I encourage children and adults to remind others that this is their journey and that no one should be clock-watching,” Serani said. “Everyone feels in different ways. And everyone heals in different ways.”

Tough times can feel incredibly overwhelming and exhausting. But there are many things you can do to soften the blow. Plus, if you’re currently not in crisis but have issues to work through, seek professional help.

“It’s best to fix the roof when the sun is shining,” said Howes, quoting the famous saying. “Dealing with our childhood issues, relational issues, or anything else when we’re in periods of relative calm may be the best investment of time and effort we can make.”

And when you’re ready, look for the lesson. As Marter said, “Hardships are opportunities for growth and learning. They deepen our understandings of ourselves, others, and the world around us. There are hidden blessings that come with virtually every hardship, such as strength, wisdom, empathy or openness to a deeper spiritual awareness.”

psychcentral.com

Adjusting Your Mentality Taking Positive Action Article Summary Questions & Answers Related Articles References

This article was co-authored by

Tasha Rube, LMSW

. Tasha Rube is a Licensed Master Social Worker in Missouri. She received her MSW from the University of Missouri in 2014.

There are 21 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

Life changes can leave you reeling and feeling unsure of what to do next. Whether it’s coping with financial problems, dealing with death or trying to heal from a divorce, it’s not always easy to figure out what your next step should be. However, there are things that you can do to reduce your stress even when life takes those unexpected turns.

Method 1 Adjusting Your Mentality

  1. prayers to get through tough times Acknowledge your emotions.

    You may want to ignore the painful feelings the situation brings up or pretend your feelings do not exist. Recognize that by pushing your feelings away, you create more negative emotions. It’s better to accept your feelings and work through them. Don’t try to rationalize the way you feel; the only way to work through your emotions is by feeling them.

    • For example, if you lose your job, it’s okay to admit you feel angry, upset, fearful, and vengeful.
    • Set aside 15 minutes each day to feel your emotions. Don’t let your mind interfere, just sit and feel what you feel.
    • You can journal your thoughts and feelings.
    • Don’t be afraid to cry. Crying releases negative chemicals from the body, and also helps relieve stress, lift your mood, and help you deal with painful circumstances.
  2. prayers to get through tough times Modify your thinking.

    Try to view the situation as an opportunity to grow and improve.

    For example, try reminding yourself of how strong and resilient you are during tough times. When you look at things from this perspective, it’s a lot more empowering.

    • If you didn’t get into the college you wanted to attend, your world isn’t over and you won’t lose your shot at having a career. Remember that you have options and that positive things will come of the situation.
    • Try to keep your worries in perspective. Try asking yourself, “Is this worry really that bad in the grand scheme of things?” If you are worried about something in the future, ask yourself, “How likely is it that this will really happen?”
    • If you find that you are worrying incessantly, try choosing a “worry time.” At the beginning of each day, select a 15 minute time interval, in advance, when you can worry about your problems. If thoughts of any problems try to intrude outside of the designated “worry time,” then remind yourself that it’s not “worry time” yet.
  3. prayers to get through tough times Face your reality gap.

    Often life gives you one option when you wanted an entirely different option. The greater distance between what you have and what you want, the greater pain you may experience.

    Recognize that the reality you wanted did not come true, and you must now live in a different reality.

    • Instead of resenting your situation, acknowledge that you must adapt to your situation. For instance, if you lack financial resources, don’t keep spending money like you did before. Acknowledge that your spending habits may need to change.
  4. prayers to get through tough times Practice acceptance.

    Many things in life are out of your control, from the traffic on the highway to your boss being irritable at work. Instead of getting wound up and irritated at these situations, take a breath and practice accepting what is out of your control. While you cannot control the situation, you can control your reaction.

    • You can practice acceptance through meditation. Write a list of all the things that are out of your control. Then, close your eyes and slow your breathing until you are in a meditative state. Imagine handing your list over to a higher power and letting those things go.
  5. prayers to get through tough times Give gratitude.

    Even in the most dire of circumstances, having a grateful attitude can provide a much needed perspective that widens your experience beyond your current pain.

    Even if you feel like you have lost many things, take a moment and acknowledge what you do have, especially the non-material things such as friendship, physical ability, or pleasant weather.

    • Set aside time each day to reflect on what you are grateful for: you may be grateful for your dog, your children, a beautiful sunset, a pleasant walk, or a much-needed phone call with your sister. Take a few moments and express gratitude for these things.
    • Remember the toughest points in your life, then remember that you are right here, having successfully worked through those situations and the dark times. You were able to endure that before, and you can endure this now.
  6. prayers to get through tough times Be resilient.

    Resiliency is engaging the process of adapting to changes, whether they be temporary, life-long, or crisis situations. Look at the big picture and don’t see difficulties as never-ending. They will end, and you will get through it.

    • Resiliency doesn’t develop when stress is removed from life, it develops when you’re exposed to stress and have adequate time and tools to recover.
    • For example, you may break your leg and not be able to walk for quite some time. Resiliency means finding ways to adapt to your new situation– like excelling at physical therapy to build up strength, and getting good with a wheelchair or crutches– knowing that you as a person will prevail, even if your ability changes.
    • Reflect on past difficulties and what you gained from them. Some people report feeling more confident in their abilities or having a deeper appreciation of life. Know that there is likely some lessons for you to learn through this experience.
  7. prayers to get through tough times Practice spirituality.

    Many people find spirituality helpful when coping with difficult events.

    Some positive spiritual coping methods include calling in support from a higher power, spiritual forgiveness, reframing the situation from a meaningful benevolent framework, and meditating on positive things.

Method 2 Taking Positive Action

  1. prayers to get through tough times Problem solve.

    While many problems require time and healing, some problems can be solved with a little effort and thoughtful consideration. Think about problems you are facing that may have a solution. This can include work, finances, family, friendships, romantic relationship, and educational stresses. Write down as many solutions as you can think of for each item that you listed. It doesn’t matter whether a particular solution seems realistic or not, just write them all down.

    It’s amazing which solutions can actually be helpful, so you don’t want to disregard any of them in the initial brainstorming session.

    • For example, if you and your partner always talk about finances right before bed and end up going to bed angry, start moving your discussions to the morning and have enough time to adequately talk through all issues.
    • Once you know what the solutions are, be sure to create a specific actionable plan to move forward. This will probably require you to identify specific goals and the action steps that you will take to meet the goals.
    • For more information on goal attainment, check out How to Set Goals and Achieve Them.
  2. prayers to get through tough times Ask for support.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. If you are overwhelmed or if you don’t know what to do about something, there are many people who are willing to help. Whether you talk about your difficulties with family, friends, or a therapist, it can be cathartic to verbally express what’s going on to someone else.

    Don’t try to do it all alone. Trying to live life without support only intensifies the struggle and makes life feel worse.

    • Don’t let pride get in the way of you seeking help. No one knows everything and you can always reciprocate later.
    • Talking about your problems can allow someone to give you unique perspective that you may not have considered.
    • When you talk to someone else, let them know what you want. If you want feedback, ask for thoughts or feelings regarding your situation. If you just want someone to listen, make that clear. Sometimes well-intentioned people will give you feedback to try and solve your problem when all you want is to vent.
  3. prayers to get through tough times Prioritize self-care.

    Despite your hardships, much of life may need to go on, including taking care of kids or putting in 40 hours at your job. While getting through this difficult time, make sure you are doing things to care for your body and your emotions.

    It can be easy to stretch yourself thin meeting other peoples’ needs, but make time to meet your own needs, too. Be sure that you are eating healthy, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and intentionally creating joy in your life. Find things you enjoy doing and do them.

    • Treat your body to a massage.
    • Find time to journal and express your thoughts and emotions.
    • Find 20 minutes each day to meditate or take a power nap.
    • Take a walk or go for a hike if you don’t have the time or energy to go to the gym.
    • Laughing decreases stress. Watch funny wipeout videos or silly animal videos to keep you laughing.
    • Staying positive also helps. Always search for the silver lining in everything.
  4. prayers to get through tough times Take a break.

    If you feel overwhelmed by your life situation, take a break. A break can come in many forms: it can be a vacation, a weekend getaway, or even a long walk. Taking a break can even be engaging in distraction, such as reading a book, watching a movie, or going to the gym.

    • Find out what distractions help you cope (not run away from your problems). Find activities you enjoy and go do them! This can also include going hiking, horseback riding, or writing in a journal.
  5. prayers to get through tough times Engage in therapy.

    Sometimes it can be most helpful to talk to a mental health professional when dealing with difficult times. A therapist is someone who is there to support you and ask questions that help you gain a different perspective. A therapist can help you uncover the root of your problems, work through emotional struggles, and help you make positive changes in your life.

    • Therapy helps you explore yourself and your situation in a way that encourages growth.
    • A therapist can be helpful in a number of situations. If you experience job stress, relationship problems, or difficulty coping, a therapist can help.
  6. prayers to get through tough times Help others.

    When going through crisis, much of your attention gets placed onto yourself and your situation, which can eventually be draining. Set aside some time to volunteer and help others to put your focus on other people. You can increase your own happiness by helping others.

    • Offer to help out a friend with errands.
    • Volunteer your time at an animal shelter and help orphaned animals.
    • Volunteer once a week with children or older adults.

Community Q&A

Add New Question

  • Question

    How do I cope with the negative attacks my wife hits me with?

    Tom De Backer

    Top Answerer

    You shouldn’t have to cope. Talk to her, make her understand what you are feeling and talk about what causes these perceived attacks. You have to stand up for yourself. Let her know her behavior is unacceptable and must change, but be prepared to face some of her issues with you as well.

  • Question

    I am about to sell my first ever pony. I’m just so sad, and every time I think about it I want to cry. I know it will be best for him, but I’m going to miss him so much! Any advice?

    Tom De Backer

    Top Answerer

    Well, it is sad, so it’s OK to be sad about it, and it’s OK to cry when you feel like it. But trust yourself too, after a while, these feelings will feel less sharp, and you’ll stop feeling sad all the time. Keep some pictures of your pony, maybe even a video, and remember the good times and the friendship you shared.

  • Question

    I experienced an embarrassment in class. My image has gone down as a result, and I’m feeling depressed. Any advice?

    Ask yourself, in 20 years, will this seem important to you at all? Probably not. This is just a little bump on the road of life. If you did something wrong, apologize to your classmates. If not, just try to wait it out. Everyone will forget all about whatever happened soon enough.

  • Question

    I’m in a relationship with this guy. I love him and all, but he doesn’t spoil me because he can’t, he’s in debt and unemployed. It’s sad because I don’t feel valued. What should I do?

    You should find a new way to feel valued. Someone should not have to buy you things for you to feel special or loved. That is a very selfish way of looking at a relationship. If he obviously cares for you, if he tells you he loves you, goes out of his way to ask you how you are doing, expresses his appreciation for you as a person, etc., that’s all you should need. If you want material things, buy them for yourself.

  • Question

    I am having a really hard time in school right now, and on top of that, I just lost my dog and a good friend. How do I cope?

    Talk to someone about your feelings, like another friend, a parent, a teacher or guidance counselor, or even a therapist. If you’re struggling in your classes, talk to your teachers and explain what’s going on. They should offer to give you some extra help and/or give you extensions if necessary. Talking to someone is important, but you can also write about how you’re feeling in a journal. This is a great way to work through emotions.

  • Question

    I was bullied at the beginning of a new school, and I was homeschooled before the second quarter. My mom can’t afford homeschool, but still wants to continue. What do I do? I feel lonely and depressed.

    If you’re feeling lonely and depressed, maybe it would be good for you to get back out there and try school again, especially because that would make things easier on your mom. If you do decide to go back, just lay low, and if people start bothering you, ignore them. Sign up for a club or other activity that you’re interested in, as this is a good, low key way to make friends.

Unanswered Questions

  • Can I use these tips if I am very busy?

  • I am in a bad situation, stucked between my divorce. Feeling depressed dayby day it is really difficult to have patience just want to end up as soon as possible. Any advice?

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Tips

  • Avoid making any important decisions when you are grieving. When you are going through the grieving process, it may be difficult for you to think clearly.

Warnings

  • If you find that you are engaged in destructive or risky behavior following grief then you should see a mental health professional as soon as possible. Such behaviors could include excessive drinking, using drugs, using a weapon, blowing all of your money on spending sprees, overworking at the job, and other nonconstructive compulsive behavior.

Article SummaryX

If you’re going through tough times, the most important thing to do is to acknowledge your feelings about your situation so they don’t overwhelm you. If you’re worried, spend some time reflecting on your reality versus your expectations, and try to create an action plan that will get you where you want to go. Whether you get the most out of asking others for advice, prioritizing yourself, or reaching out to help others, there are always positive ways to help you move forward through your difficulties. For advice from our reviewer on the best way to take care of you, read on!

Did this summary help you? Article Info

This article was co-authored by Tasha Rube, LMSW. Tasha Rube is a Licensed Master Social Worker in Missouri. She received her MSW from the University of Missouri in 2014.

Categories: Psychological Resilience

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Jun 13, 2014 by Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe

Pain, medicine, and depression were consuming me. The doctors told me I was winning my battle with leukemia, but I felt I was losing emotionally. The depression that had overtaken me seemed worse than physical disease.

As a rabbi I thought I had been trained to deal with depression. I was used to members of my congregation coming to me in times of suffering. People counted on me for comfort and understanding. Yet, here I was, unable to deal with my own depression.

Gradually, I was able to summon the strength within me. “God,” I prayed, “I’m trying to get up this mountain, but every time I get near the top, I get knocked down again. And, I’m not asking you to get me all the way to the summit, but could you hold my hand, and, please, don’t let me fall any further into the abyss?”

As I prayed, I searched for the divine spark within my spirit, for the power that I possessed, and which I believe all of us have. And within me I found goodness and radiance and warmth.

In the Jewish tradition, prayer doesn’t mean somehow finding God’s unlisted phone number or rubbing a magic lamp to bring forth a genie. It means looking into yourself, determining the meaning of your life, finding out what really is of value, and discovering what you believe. Prayer is the “self judgement” that empowers us to reach higher, search deeper, and be true to ourselves.

Here are my suggestions for lifting yourself up in times of adversity:

LET YOUR SPIRIT SING. You don’t need a designated place or specific words. Sometimes the song we sing is joyous; sometimes it is a lament. Sometimes the song is loud and strong; sometimes it is weak and weary. Be in touch with your feelings and help yourself by opening your heart.

BE YOUR SPECIAL SELF. The story of the creation of the first human being, Adam, reminds us that each of us is unique. Every human being represents the potential of the whole world.

I vividly recall the time when a young woman came to me talking about taking her life. She was very depressed and felt worthless. I told her that no matter how low a person sinks there is always something special and worthwhile in everyone. I took note of her smile, commented on her touching way of revealing her feelings, and told her that she was special. When she left my study I prayed I had said the right thing. Years later there was a knock on my study door. She had returned to thank me for helping her get through a very difficult time in her life..

REMIND YOURSELF WHAT REALLY MATTERS. When I was depressed in the hospital, I called to mind the good things in my life, what I had to live for. I pushed myself to remember Thanksgivings with my family, vacations in Colorado, running up the ski lift in Aspen, my daughter whirling around the ice skating rink. I thought of my wife and friends who were praying for me. I thought of the nurses who comforted me, and the doctors who struggled to keep me alive.

CONFRONT YOUR FEARS. When one of my congregants asked me, “What do I do in the middle of the night when no one is with me and I’m scared?” I told him, don’t try to run away and hide under the blanket. Sit up in bed and let all the nightmarish things happen right before your eyes. See everything that terrifies you. Then, when you have all this in front of you, acknowledge your fears. You have a right to feel frightened and depressed about awful things that have happened. But then realize that despite all that you are still very much alive!

GIVE OF YOURSELF. After my illness, I rededicated my life to helping others, especially those with cancer. Someone is always in need, someone whose plight is worse than our own. By helping others we give meaning to our lives.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW. A young woman, the mother of four children, came to see me. She had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Along with her chemotherapy treatments,  she treated herself to ski lessons. She wanted to experience something new to take her mind off her illness, to reaffirm her life. “There I was,” she told me, “hanging onto the tow rope, climbing that hill, exhilarated by being outside on a crisp winter day – thankful for the day, thankful for my life.”

Through my illness and depression, I learned to see the true worth within myself, to reflect on the meaning of my life, even to find meaning in my illness.

In a sense, my weakness made me a stronger person. I have learned that what “doesn’t destroy me, strengthens me.” Now, I empathize with other people in a way I was never able to before. I look for the goodness in people and in life. I look for the oneness of all humanity, and I find it.

When you are down, may you find strength in all you do and say and feel and think – and then the miracle will happen; the sun will shine for you; the world will once again be beautiful. Look for it. It will happen. I know.

prayers to get through tough times

This blog originally appeared on runningrabbi.wordpress.com.

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