Have you ever wondered how people get through tremendous hardship and tragedy? Why do some people seem to successfully deal with adversity while others choose destructive coping mechanisms? Of course there is no simple answer to those questions. Likely there are multiple factors that play a part in an individual's response to trauma. Some have abundant resources that make it easier to deal with hardship. They may have healthy coping mechanisms in place prior to a tragedy or have survived prior hardship experiences that they can draw upon to work through their current situation. Sometimes our resilience develops from past experiences and overcoming adversity. Another factor is our support through family and friends. Do we have a group of people we can turn to and rely on when we are struggling? And do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and ask for help? Our community and network of support can make a huge difference in our ability to handle a traumatic event. When we know that others care about us and want to help us through a difficult time our level of hope expands.
What is your community of hope? Where do you get a sense of belonging, connection, and support? Life is filled with difficult times, but we can cope with stress better when we have a support system. Studies have shown that people with a strong sense of community and social network live longer and have greater physical and emotional health. The hardest part may be reaching out for help and letting others know about your struggles. So many people prefer to deal with their troubles on their own and avoid being vulnerable with others. Some may feel that sharing hardship with others is a sign of weakness and inadequacy. Or maybe they don't feel like they have a community of people who care enough about them to help. Some would rather keep the facade up and pretend that everything is fine even when it's not. Unfortunately, there are many who suffer in silence and isolate themselves because they are too prideful or embarrassed to admit that they need help from others.
Being connected to family and friends takes intentional effort and desire. When we consistently reach out through phone calls, texting, and meetings, we are building our community and our social network. Another way of being connected on a deeper level is through sharing personal information, feelings, and vulnerabilities. We all struggle with something and surrounding ourselves with people who encourage, support, and motivate us through our hard times can be very comforting. Work on finding your community, maybe through your church, work friendships, family connections, or volunteer activities. Sometimes an exercise group or an organization that you belong to can give you that sense of fellowship and connection. When you find that network of community and connection, make it a priority in your life because the benefits are numerous including hope that we all so desperately need.