It can be a terrible shock to our system, then, when our lives derail in the most spectacular way possible, often through no fault of our own. The experience overwhelms us, leaving us completely at a loss when it comes to coping and recovering.
And as a person who’s had her life derailed multiple times, I thought I’d give some tips.
Forgiveness, like mourning, is vital to your well-being.
That’s right, when everything in your life is going wrong and you’re seeing everything go to pieces in front of you, the important thing for you to focus on is breathing.
Breathing is good because it reminds you that, despite everything, you’re still alive. And where there’s life, there’s hope.
Also, if you take a moment to just breathe instead of doing anything else, it cuts down the odds of saying or doing something you’ll regret later.
2) Do Nothing
This is probably the hardest piece of advice to give, because in my experience, it’s the hardest piece of advice to apply to my life. I’m a go-getter, so when things go wrong, my knee-jerk response is to do … something.
The problem with this is that the stress of your life falling apart puts you into fight or flight mode. It drags you down to the emotional and cerebral level of a cornered animal. No logic. No clear thinking. So if you’re just reacting and making important decisions on the spur of the moment, you will almost invariably make your situation worse. Except if you’re really, really lucky.
If you’re in this situation, suspend every possible decision until you can get yourself out of the fight or flight mode. Obviously, some decisions will be unavoidable, but still try to avoid them until you can logically think about them, or until you absolutely can’t avoid them any longer.
One’s life going to pieces can take various forms. A business going bankrupt. A divorce. A loved one dying. Betrayal. Some combination of the above.
The one thing all of these things have in common is the loss of your life in the way you knew it. There is no recovery to your old status quo and this is something you have to accept. But before that, you have to give yourself time and space to mourn.
Sometimes, people try to suppress their emotions in these situations and soldier on. I’ve done this. I just don’t suggest anyone to do this indefinitely, because even if you say “I’m fine” a million times, you’re actually doing severe and often lasting damage to your well-being in the long run.
It’s better to go through the pain and process everything that’s happened than to pretend everything’s fine and having those things you’re denying consume you from the inside out.
Oh man. This is another piece of advice that’s so difficult to do, and implementing it can well take the rest of your life. The thing is that forgiveness, like mourning, is vital to your well-being.
I think it’s Buddha that said, “Refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting that person to die.”
Holding onto grudges and past pain doesn’t punish the people and things that hurt you nearly as much as internalizing those negative emotions will damage you.
In other words, that dark, twisted pleasure you get from dipping into your rage every now and then just isn’t worth it. Trust me. I’ve been there. I know.
5) Take Stock and Pick Up the Pieces
Eventually, once you’ve calmed down and gained some sense of equilibrium in your new world, you will be in a place where you can look at what you’ve lost and what you have left.
Once you’re there, it’s important not to wallow. You’ve mourned. You’ve let go and forgave. There’s no point to circling back to your grief any longer. Now, the only thing that’s left is picking up the pieces and starting to build again.
And in that, there is a new hope as well, because although you’ve lost your old life, you will have the skills and tools to build a new one. And who knows? Maybe it will be even better than before.
Have you ever had your life come crashing down around you? How did you recover? Any advice that you think I missed?