Off the rails
Sometimes it seems like life just yanks the rug out from under you. It might come in the form of a layoff notice, or a stock market crash or unwanted medical news or yes, for some people, in the form of unexpected election results.
Life does take chaotic turns. When that happens, we are often left feeling confused or scared or angry or all of that. We can spend a lot time worrying or asking ourselves why that thing had to happen.
I think it would be a rare life indeed that did not have at least one chaotic event. Challenges, huge disappointments and even tragedy are a natural part of our human experience. We’re blessed when it doesn’t happen to us very often.
But when it does, there are some ways you can be proactive about how you respond to the situation you find yourself in.
Here are 5 things that can help when you feel like life has been turned upside down:
“Just breathe” might seem like it’s the response to everything these days but in this situation it actually has a practical purpose. When we feel stressed we often do one of 2 things with our breathing. We either hold our breath more than we realize which results in a build-up of tension in our bodies, or we breathe too quickly which can cause us to feel light headed and ungrounded.
Pause and take 3 conscious breaths.
Breathe in for a count of 4 and breathe out slowly for a count of 8. This helps to reset your breathing to a more normal pattern and to send a signal to your body to relax.
Feel what you are feeling
Difficult situations stir up challenging emotions. Sometimes we try to step over these emotions in order to minimize the unpleasant feeling. Sometimes we don’t trust ourselves to be able to handle the range of emotions we might be experiencing.
Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. It’s okay to be sad or angry or frustrated. Remind yourself that you are a human being having a human experience and that you are inherently strong and capable even if it doesn’t seem like it in the moment.
Go ahead and vent
Yup give yourself permission to rant and rave. Sometimes we need to release our pent up emotions. Just make sure that it’s at an appropriate time and with an appropriate audience. Let the person on the receiving end know that you are going to vent and be aware that your words have impact.
Then stop it.
Venting is something you do for 5 minutes or less. Any longer than that and you have transitioned into whining and complaining – neither of which are particularly helpful
Pay attention to negative future thinking
When we find ourselves in uncertain times, it’s easy to jump on the “what if” band wagon. What if this happens? What if that happens? We keep what if-ing ourselves all the way to the worst possible outcomes.
The problem with worrying is that it has absolutely no impact on what might or might not happen. It does however consume a lot of time and energy. Catch yourself future thinking and if it has a negative quality, bring yourself back to the present moment, or switch to visualizing a positive outcome instead. If you are going to be imagining the future, it might as well be a good one.
Shift your focus
Everything begins with a thought. Remind yourself of some of the key features of thoughts – they pass, they are not facts, and you get to choose which ones get your focus.
Consciously shift your focus to proactive questions:
What can I do right now that is helpful?
What do I believe and how can my actions reflect that?Build resilience by building & practicing skills when times are good so you are prepared when life is chaotic. Click To Tweet
How you end up handling challenging circumstances has a lot to do with building and practicing helpful skills when things are going smoothly. That’s one way that we become resilient. Pay attention and practice these 5 things now, so you will be better prepared when life turns upside down. And if you are in the midst of a no-good-very-bad-horrible kind of mess, begin by breathing again.
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