regrouping after life changes our plans: 3 keys to feeling stable again
My breakfast is planned for the next several months. Seriously. I eat the same thing pretty much everyday. If the Quaker company goes out of business, then I'll really have to rethink my mornings because I'll be completely thrown out of whack. Although, like any good type-A person, I do, of course, have a back-up plan for breakfast.
This, however, is not the case for absolutely everything in life. I'm pretty diligent about making plans and back-up plans, but sometimes life sends something your way that just throws you for a loop. It hits you hard, and you're left to pick up the pieces wondering what went wrong or what you missed. It can be hard to think, hard to see the big picture, and most of all, hard to pull it together again.
I'm sitting here writing this after the last several weeks of a numbing curveball of a loss that life has sent me. I thought everything was well planned out and in line with our family life, but life had another plan for us. And it shook things up quite a bit. There was no backup plan to make for this. No plan B to make it any easier. We just needed to let go and realize that we were not in control of these moments.
I cannot tell you how hard it was to suffer that loss. However, I can tell you that in those moments I was somehow quite willing to just stop. Stop trying to control everything. Stop trying to make everyone feel good and get along. Stop trying to be on top of whatever the next thing was. It didn't matter in those moments, and somehow I was perfectly okay with that. It's like deep down I knew that I needed to be present and aware of that loss. It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I can let go a little, just a little. In those moments, it was almost a relief to realize that the control I would have needed not so long ago was not welcome in that moment. I needed to feel the shift that life had taken without my approval. I needed to be fully immersed in that loss for the time being so that I could move forward in the next moments. I needed to just breathe.
When we find ourselves in these times, it can be so hard to not push back at life and question what went wrong with our plan. How did something so sudden happen to us or the people we love? How could things have gone so wrong? That's when it's the most important to be in that moment for all that it's worth. Soak up the sadness, the grief, the surprise, or whatever it may be. It will make you stronger, and you will come out the other side with a new perspective to carry you through to the next moments. If you're wondering how it's possible to achieve this when all you can think about is how to stop this from ever happening again, then I've got a few suggestions for you.
With all the noise that might be going on in your head, what you really need to try is to just listen. There are other people around you that might be needing to be heard. Your family and friends may be needing comfort and understanding. Even caregivers or doctors may just need you to be present enough to hear what needs to happen next. It could even be your environment that is telling you something that you need to start listening to for once. Whatever or whoever it may be that is there, it's your primary mission in those moments to stop and listen.
Don't try to fix anything or to make changes. All you need to do is be there to hear what is happening. That is your to-do item and your only one. It's powerful to finally press pause and just listen. Even if it's during a moment of sadness, that is part of life's journey, and we must appreciate those moments all the same. They're telling us something, and all we have to do is listen.
2. Find Gratitude
When your heart sinks and you no longer feel in control, finding a bit of balance can allow you to regroup. I mean, being inherently overly anxious and overbearing, after all, you're gonna want to naturally try to regain as much of that control as you can. Pushing back on your natural tendencies isn't the best thing for regaining balance. One way that you can try to find center again, though, is to practice gratitude. I'm talking about gratitude for what you do have in your life, for the people present with you now, and for the pieces of the life you've built that you are truly proud of creating.
Being able to accept change sometimes starts with having one foot on the path that we do know and one foot angled toward the next. It's a start. A good one. And one that allows us to stand in those difficult moments and realize that we will have more moments beyond them. So we should find the people and parts of our lives that we are incredibly thankful for and use those to get us back to center where we know we've got a bit of stability in our footing.
3. Focus your Energy
Moving into the days and weeks after a loss or a sudden change in your life can seem daunting. When we've stopped to listen and found the things that we're grateful for, then we can begin to focus our energy on something to reestablish our confidence and give us a new direction. It's not easy to just move on to the next moment, but you can find something that will propel you forward a bit. This can be anything from an art project to activities with your children or even just learning something new. The important thing is that you hone in on something you can create, learn, or practice that will keep you moving forward by engaging your entire self.
This does not mean that we are trying to forget the moments that we suffered. Rather, we can use these practices to draw out our present emotions in a positive way and build upon them to create meaningful new moments moving us forward on our new path. So go paint that guest bedroom, reorganize your kids toy room, or make the scrapbooks you've been putting off for two years now. Now is the time to envelop yourself in a task and in doing so find a way to get onto the path that was chosen for you.
These are the moments when we find ourselves and what truly matters. We can honor life's decisions and grow with them, or we can push back with little result. If we can just find it in ourselves to listen, be gracious, and focus our energy, then maybe we can come out the other side a little more at peace with the way life makes choices for us sometimes. Maybe we can just find a little glimpse of mindfulness in the moments that turn us upside down.