Have you ever had that moment where the earth falls out from under you? A moment when, as you go through it, you know, it’s irrevocably changing the way you think about who you are and what you are doing? Maybe it feels like the universe is giving you a big old kick in the rear end — or, the wind has been knocked out of you. I’ve had a few of those in my short time on this gorgeous gift of a planet and each time I struggle to catch my breath, find my feet and keep moving forward.
Recently, I had one of those and I figure sharing what happened for me might be helpful for anyone else going through something similar. The following is both an account of my experience but also the reminders I gave myself that allowed me to bounce back, relatively quickly. I won’t say this was a perfect example by any means (nothing is) but it’s something.
I had an immediate reaction. I’m no saint.
In this case, someone told me about a decision that had been made that would affect my life, would shift not just what I do, but how I do it. It would shift the modes of support I have available to me on a daily basis. There were tears and tissues. Someone sitting across from me asked if I could drive myself home. I was bewildered and ‘shook’ but I knew I could drive myself home and looked at her incredulously thinking, ‘why would she think I can’t drive myself home…’ Looking back, I don’t think I was really present in my body for a few days afterwards so I can only imagine how I appeared in that moment.
For me, there are a few lifelines I know work for me.
- Phone a friend: Ok. I phoned a few. And I started with family. Here are some of the reminders I had to use for myself: There are always people who love you out there. They are not as far away as you think. No matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen them or confided in them. They are out there and they are prepared for this. So are therapists (low-key: double up on therapy, it’s worth it). They might not, and hopefully won’t give me the answers (it can help to set clear boundaries with what you need in the conversation and make sure you pick the right people!), but they will be there for me as I fall. Reaching out is well over half the battle.
- Move my body: I’m definitely that person that just wants to lie down when something like this happens. Even though I KNOW how impactful yoga can be, often, the last thing I think I want to do is move. I want to lay down in bed and cry my big brown eyes out. I want to sleep for days and even if I can’t sleep, I don’t want to look at anyone or talk to anyone or ANYTHING. That works for a little while, and sleep is definitely important but the wallowing can’t last. This is why I phone the friend FIRST. Make sure they get me out of bed (even if it’s just a text reminder). The truth is, this time, I needed friends to bring me sushi and pick me up on their way to the gym but once my body got into motion, I was able to take the next step. The reality is, our bodies are intelligent and when we can shift our bodies our mindsets follow suit.
- Shift Perspective: Body movement really does help me shift perspective. So does literally DOING something else. The challenge here is doing something healthy to shift perspective. Otherwise, while I may no longer be dwelling in the situation at hand (what happened, what could I have done differently, what can I do, etc) I might be escaping into denial or unhealthy patterns or habits that don’t actually serve me in the short or long term. We all know the unhealthy routes we each take (or maybe that’s an important awareness moment — take a minute to journal unhealthy habits here). But what are the healthy ones? For me, I took a deep dive into gardening. Gardening has been this amazing lifeline filled with inspiration from the plants themselves and from others who find beauty in the blooms. Yes, my instagram feed started filling with flowers, 😉 Both the body movement and the deep dive into other parts of my life that bring me joy allow me to move through painful moments. They also give me the strength to reflect and ask, what is the lesson here? There is always a lesson we are being asked to learn (again, highly recommend therapy).
- Nourish: Do you forget to eat in those moments? I do. I literally forgot to eat for 24 hours and only realized because someone said it was lunch time. A friend of mine says that when something emotionally or physically traumatizing happens, the spirit leaves the body in order to protect itself. In order to get through it, incorporate the learnings and move on, re-integration is CRUCIAL. Get some food in the belly, hopefully its healthy and not just a giant bag/box of double stuff Oreos (not gonna lie, I definitely did that in college pre-resilience lifeline knowledge).
- Re-focus: Finally, when you’re ready, call to mind what really matters here. Use a process of discernment. What is absolutely critical? Clarify what is essential. What do you need to get your basic needs met, and then on through the callings of heart and what will bring joy to your being.You don’t need to do it all. In fact, trying to do it all is part of the overwhelm. You just need to take the best next step, even if it’s saying, “I don’t know” a few times first.
As I move through this process, I notice, the journey is definitely not linear. I do a mix of all of these things each day. Every morning, my body requires re-integration, reminders, re-membering: literally applying focused awareness to every part/member of my body and breath to return to an integrated place. Every interaction and conversation requires discernment; a decision of what is called for here and now. It requires extreme presence and patience with myself.
The last thing I’ll leave you with is: celebrate the successes. This is a daily reminder and daily practice of gratitude. Wake up and list three things I’m grateful for. Even if this morning, it’s just the breath, there is always something.
Ironically, next week I’m hosting ‘The Resilient Path’ the last Women Together event in the 2019 Spring Series with Gabby Bernstein (who just wrote a great article about resilience) Wendy Palmer of Leadership Embodiment and Kate Johnson. They’ll be sharing incredibly practical tools, tips and experiences we can all use to move through difficult moments so that hopefully, even when the wind comes, we can see it with a new perspective and respond with a new level of capacity.
We’ve got this.