Navigating Through the Storms of Life
Sooner or later they hit. Without any warning, while you’re minding your own business, a storm comes out of nowhere and rocks your world. Whether it’s a financial crisis, an illness, or the death of a loved one, something comes along which creates for you a psychological earthquake where your world is now divided into two parts: before it happened and after it happened. Everything comes to a screeching halt and you go into survival mode.
So, how do you navigate through the storm when the world around you continues to function as it always has?
First, don’t spend precious time and energy on why. Storms hit because they are a part of life. Spending your energy on trying to figure out why a crisis hit, as well as ruminating about the past, is not only counterproductive, but it ignites the stress response which creates illness and disease and will also take precious strength and vitality away from dealing with the situation at hand.
Second, take time to prioritize. Make a list of what needs to be done in order of importance every day. When a crisis hits, some days just getting out of bed may be all you’re able to do…and that’s ok. If that’s the case, you may only get through one or two items on your list, but doing even something small will instill a sense of accomplishment and let you know you’re starting to move forward. Also, and I know it’s easy to say but much more difficult to do; try not to sweat the small stuff. This will keep your energy from becoming fragmented and keep it for where you need it most; on the issue at hand. This will also help prevent overwhelm caused by focusing on too many details at once. When something big needs your attention it’s helpful to let what’s not pressing take a back seat for the time being.
Understanding that nothing lasts forever is also an essential key element. It may not seem like it, but the crisis will end, resolve itself, create a new path or direction, or eventually find a homeostasis. We often forget that when we are in the middle of a storm but everything runs its course. If at all possible, see what lessons may be left to learn or if you can possibly find some benefit from the experience. What did that experience teach you, and better yet, what have you learned that you can now teach to others because of your experience? Finding the blessing (and I know that sounds like a stretch when you’re knee deep in your crisis) and helping those because of it, takes the focus off of you while preventing you from falling into “victim” mode. It can also fill you with purpose and self-worth.
Next, don’t be afraid to ask for help. What some may view as a sign of weakness is actually a sign of healthy strength. I find it’s usually the givers, nurturers, and the most supportive people who are happy to help others, but cringe at the thought of asking for help. Reaching out doesn’t only benefit you, but it allows others to enjoy that same great feeling you feel when you’re helping someone. Think about it, you give because it feels good; why deprive someone else of that same gift they now have an opportunity to give to you? Giving fills us with a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and joy. Why deprive another of that joy just because you’re the one who needs it now?
Lastly, be gentle with yourself, and do your best to eat well and exercise, refuel and replenish, breathe and meditate. A fit and sound body and mind will help you to stay centered while the storm whirls around you. Go for a walk, meet a friend for coffee, have a full out cry…do whatever you need to nurture your body, mind and spirit.
No matter what the crisis, navigating the storm comes slowly. Eventually, you’ll find a silver lining. Change is never easy but trusting that this tragedy may possibly lead to your greatest triumph enriches our lives in a way we could have never conceived. There is something to gain from every challenge before the sun comes out- even if the only lesson learned is how to dance in the rain.
What did you do to help you get through a life crisis? We’d love to know, comment and share!