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Life after The Military: Practical Tips for A Happy Life

Life after The Military: Practical Tips for A Happy Life

After some time spent in the service, the old excitement and “glamour” simply runs out. Most people that were in the service realize quite fast that there is nothing noble or uplifting about being in combat. It is a very difficult and for some even traumatizing experience that could leave a huge mark on somebody.

After seeing a number of friends and family members return from military service, some of whom had seen their share of combat, and just how difficult it was for them to reintegrate into civilian life, I started talking to those who managed to pull through and they gave me some priceless advices.

It can be quite hard to get back to the regular civilian life for various reasons. I asked people to tell me about the things which were the hardest for them and also to give me valuable insights on how they were able to overcome them and lead a happy life after service. Here is what those military veterans told me.

1. Don’t Expect Too Much

I know that this is a sensitive subject, but I’m trying to help you and I cannot do this without being honest. Chances are you won’t be welcomed as a hero. Your family will be there of course, but even that moment when you reunite, no matter how joyful it might be, can still be awkward.

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I am telling this to all of those who expect a triumphant storybook return. This might happen in the movies or books, but this is real life and you must prepare for it. Even your first kiss with your partner you haven’t seen for a long time can be awkward, especially if you have been away for a long time and you haven’t kissed for so long.

Additionally, you will learn that everyone has changed. This is the difficult reality of being in the military and having a partner. When being apart for so long in different emotional states, you and your partner will both change a lot. If you have kids, they will change as well and it might be tough on you, realizing what things you’ve missed while you were away.

2. Take Time to Readjust to Civilian Life

Each and every person who’s been in the service and especially those who’ve seen real combat need time to get used to being back home. It’s Impossible to simply leave a dangerous environment filled with destruction, death, and constant life threats followed with personal losses you must cope with, and expect to come back home without carrying some of those things back with you.

Even if you didn’t have a lot of real combat action, it doesn’t mean that the transition will not be difficult. When you have worked for months or even years with the army, taking care of your duty on a daily basis, being criticized or rushed constantly, you might get bored of living an “ordinary” life where everything is quiet. A lot of people struggle with the uncertainties of life and they miss their constant, clear military objectives.

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Essentially, you must understand that your mental journey to a normal life will be much longer than the physical one. Once all of the homecoming celebrations have ended, your transition period will still continue. During this period, it is essential that you try and take care of yourself both physically and spiritually. Focus on your family with group activities, be active and exercise, and the most importantly, talk about your experiences with people who can understand as this can help you during the transition period.

3. Find A Job

There are a lot of people who come back from their service and just sit around doing nothing. This gives them too much free time and they start thinking about the experiences they’ve had and the terrible things they saw back in the military. They start obsessing and bad things come out of it, including alcoholism, drugs, depression, etc.

Of course, you should take the deserved break you need, but after you have started getting used to civilian life you should start working as soon as possible. This will keep those thoughts back and you will focus on things that surround you during your everyday work. Try and find a job that has a higher dose of seriousness and requires similar discipline to make up for what you are missing.

4. Seek Professional Help

Sometimes just talking with your brothers in arm, friends, or family members is not enough to get you through the memories that might haunt you. In this case, you should look to use on your VA and seek professional help. The VA can help you in many ways, but one of the best things is that there is a huge community and a great resource you can utilize whenever needed.

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If you need someone to talk with and help you go through any issues you might be having after your military service has passed, they will be there at your disposal. No matter how alone you might feel, there are people with VA who have talked to a lot of those who had trouble readjusting, and helped them get back on track.

5. Find Your Place in The Community

For a lot of people, the sense of belonging to a group is one of the things they miss about the military. This is why it’s a good idea to get connected with some large community in order to feel like you are home. Of course, you should start by looking for a wider ring of neighbors and friends who have appreciation and respect for your time in the army. There are people who experienced this sense of community by becoming a part of service organizations, civic groups or clubs.

Some veterans do this using their faith and their religious community and they get involved in church activities. No matter what your interests are, there are a lot of communities and you can certainly find one that suits you. If you’re a part of something bigger and helping others instead of thinking about yourself, you can start feeling like a civilian.

The readjustment period can be a difficult time for anyone. Before the end, I would like to mention one thing that is very important.

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“Don’t try to remember who you were before you went to the army.”

Everyone changes after their service and this is a normal thing. You cannot force yourself to be someone you once were. You will change, and other people will change as well. Learn to accept these things and become a part of your community as the person you are at the moment.

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Ivan Dimitrijevic

Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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