It was one of those days when I awoke in a funk – I remember it well – and it was happening more often than not. This is what they mean by “life happens.” Everyone around me thought I had the perfect marriage, but it wasn’t perfect at all. I denied it for years. I told friends and family that I was fine. I wasn’t. The truth was I did not want to be one of those women whose second marriage ended in divorce, too. Not a great reason to stay in an abusive relationship, I know.
But, I decided to work my tail off to make it right this time. I even agreed to renew our wedding vows again. Early on, we decided to celebrate our marriage with a renewal every five years. The first one was great. By the second one, it felt a bit dishonest to me. When it came time for the third one, I just couldn’t do it. I realized that I wasn’t being true to myself. I was working really hard at fixing something that was not in my power to fix.
Although the circumstances around the ending of my first marriage were quite different, how I was feeling inside was quite the same. I felt numb to begin with – afraid to feel much of anything at all. Then, I felt anger – a lot of that. The fear set in next. Then, the panic. I was immobilized. How am I going to get out of this? Why is the same thing happening again?
Hold on. There was something different for me the second time. After some soul searching (and reaching out for help), I realized I had learned some things that I could apply here. That first experience – of “life happens” – could be used to motivate and guide me. As I started to use a few of the lessons I learned, I noticed they got me moving faster than before. They helped me feel less like a victim and more like the power was in my own hands. The fog – and the fear – started to lift.
Many of those same lessons have come in handy in my other life transitions, too – changing careers, being laid off, moving across country, the loss of my parents, to name a few. Back then, I did not know what to do or where to start – but, now I’m confident that when life happens to me again I’m equipped to handle it.
It occurs to me that life may be happening to you or to someone you know so, I thought I’d share some of these strategies with you here. I hope they help.
Remember that you are not alone.
Life happens to everyone at some time or another. Some struggle through those transitions, while others seem to let them roll right off their backs. You can choose which way you want to handle yours. There are many resources available to us through research, support groups and coaching. Reach out for help to make your transition smoother and easier. As you speak with people going through similar experiences, you’ll feel comforted that you are not alone in this.
Take small steps forward.
Baby steps help to build confidence. They also help to ensure you are heading in the right direction. Taking a wrong turn from a baby step is an easy correction. Don’t try to do too much too soon. When life happens, take it one step at a time.
Reach out to those people whom you trust.
A strong, positive support network of family, friends and resources is essential at a time when life is changing dramatically. Pick these people carefully. These are people who want to help and who will have your back. When you need a sounding board, there is someone there to listen. When you need a shoulder to cry on, there is someone there to lend that support. When you have made some decisions and you need to try them out, there is someone who will play devil’s advocate. The key here is that this support network feeds you positive reinforcement, encouragement and constructive feedback if they see you heading down a path that doesn’t feel right. Your support team will also help you to remember that you are not alone.
Don’t be afraid to brainstorm ideas that may seem a bit whacky at first. Perhaps they are. And perhaps they will not be the ones you choose. Dream a little. Let your imagination run a bit wild. This kind of brainstorming helps to open your creative mind to think about all the possibilities before you select the one that suits you. After considering many options, it’s very likely that the one you do choose will feel very right for you – there will be no doubt about which path to choose. There’s the benefit of exploring options.
Don’t let your current situation define you.
I like this quote from Nido Qubein (motivational speaker, author): “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
Focus on where you are today. Do not look back at how you got here. You can examine all that in due time. The sky is the limit in where you can go from here. Only you can hold yourself back now. Look forward. Lean forward. Step forward.
And, when life happens …
The fact that you have choices can be both comforting and confusing. By following these few simple strategies – remember you are not alone; take small steps; surround yourself with positive people; explore options; and, start from where you are today – the clarity of direction will come to you. The fog will clear. The fear will diminish. You will be empowered to make great decisions that set you on the right path for you.
And, since we know life happens to the best of us – when we least expect it – the next time life hits you square in the face, say, “I’ve learned this lesson before and I know just what to do this time!”
Make this your day ~~ Explore … Dream … Discover!
Chief Inspiration Officer | SafeHarbor Coaching | For women facing life transitions
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