by Wendy Keller, author, inspirational speaker
You know that feeling you get when your whole life is crashing down? That lost, overwhelmed “What the HECK am I supposed to do now?” thing that happens?
It’s awful. It’s scary. It’s where you think, “I’ve got no clue. I quit!”
It’s my personal theory that in that exact spot in your life, that how-low-can-you-go moment of pure resignation that ALL the benefits you’ll get from this arduous time are born.
I know that’s annoying of me to say. But if you take a deep breath and think about it, that does seem to be how life works.
We’d all strongly prefer for life to be sunshine and roses, plenty of money in the bank, smooth relationships, everyone we love to live healthy lives forever. I don’t know why it can’t be that way, but I sure to know that it isn’t.
In that moment of utter lost-ness (is that a word?), we throw up our hands in exasperation. We acknowledge there’s nothing more we can think of to improve or change the situation. We stop resisting What Is and accept just that it Is. And THAT is the beginning of recovering.
It’s OK if you don’t know how much more you can handle. It’s fine if you don’t know what to do next. Eventually, you’ll let go of how things should be and start to see possibilities based on reality.
1. Recognize that it’s truly darkest before the dawn. You have to get lost to find your way, and a lot of other inscrutable conundrums and confusing sayings. When you relax into the Lostness, when you stop struggling against What Is, solutions have room to pop up in your life. The solution may not look like what you’d prefer, but if you’re panicked, yanking on the door trying to get it to open while your house is burning down, you might not turn around and realize you can jump out the window. It’s not ideal, but neither is the situation.
2. Put on your Thinking Cap. I’m not trying to be Mr. Rogers here – but I’ve noticed that most of us think the solution should look like X, but it shows up looking like Y. Take a notebook and force yourself to write down 25 things you CAN do to improve your situation. If you’re suffering from grief, the end of a relationship, financial loss, inability to get a job, whatever, list 25 things – as crazy as you want – that could be done to help you out. Brainstorm ideas. Get a friend to help you and come up with 50 if you can’t do 25 by yourself. They may not all be practical, but they will create a miracle. They’ll unclog your brain drain and get you started on looking at things from a new perspective. Once you do that, you might see some things you could try. Once you see them, you will try them. They may or may not work, but they will definitely lead to other things. You’re getting some movement. Pretty soon, you’ve got a direction to go, and once you have that, you’re not lost anymore!
3. Set yourself a time limit. Seems crazy, but agree to wallow in your overwhelm for an hour a day (or 20 minutes, or two hours, whatever.) Split your “wallowing” time in half. Spend the first half letting yourself ruminate on whatever’s really got you down. Then spend the second half either writing down things that are GOOD in your life at that very moment. That’s all. Like, “I can read. I can breathe without a ventilator. I know how to tie my own shoes and I can still reach them….” Doesn’t matter how thrilling the things that are good in your life are. The exercise is about forcing your brain to acknowledge that All Is Not Lost.
It probably took some time to get in the pickle you’re in. It will likely take some time to get, or you may never get out, or you may be out of it by this time tomorrow. You don’t know, and all you can count on is right now. It’s your life – grasp the steering wheel and force yourself to pay attention to where you’re going.
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