Regain balance after your life implodes
At 43, life as I knew it imploded. The series of events and details aren’t important here, but I felt utterly alone, disoriented and overwhelmed. When I say my life imploded, I mean every aspect of my work life, family life, my married life and financial life. My life to that point had been charmed, so I was caught defenseless and unarmed emotionally.
Through the haze, I met a lot of people in similar predicaments. In trying to regain a toe hold on my life again, I found that I could join support groups (which I tried) and rehash every wrong-doing and regret publicly with other people, I could go to therapy (which I tried) and rehash everything in private, I could go out partying and act like I was completely healed and “over it” (which I tried) to show my friends and family that I was fine or I could crawl into my wine glass and Netflix (which I tried) and hope that something or someone would come along to make everything all right again.
If this sounds even slightly like what you may be going through, first I want to send you as many healing, loving vibes from one soul to another. Secondly, I want to pass along a few gems that I was lucky enough to come across to help me find balance when everything seemed to be upside down — including recommendations for these books: Evolving Out Loud, by Kyle Cease; Micro Habits for Major Happiness, by Indigo Ocean Dutton; and The 5 Second Rule, by Mel Robbins.
Balance is an elusive creature when you don’t have it. You know it when you feel it. It feels like calm — calm in your brain, calm in your joints and muscles, calm in your relationships, and mostly calm in your heart. The gem I learned from Kyle was to control what is in my control and to let go of what I can’t control — just let it go. I know, easier said than done. That is where your work is.
The other piece of your work is to honestly understand what is and is not in your control. We all think we have control over a lot more than we actually do; control is an illusion. We keep juggling all those balls, some better than others, but ultimately when we are out of balance, a ball or two fall and before you know it, all the balls have fallen.
The next gem I found was Micro Habits. In a nutshell, Dutton says micro habits are goals broken down into extremely small, very-doable actions so that even if you no longer have the energy to…stay on your diet “just for tonight”…you can still do a micro habit because your mind doesn’t have any push-back to it. Your ultimate goal may be to go to the gym every day, do 100 pushups or run a mile. A micro habit would be to do one pushup a day — just one. That one builds to five, then 20, then 100, then gym once a week. Somedays it’s still one pushup. On those days I don’t beat myself up. I can still congratulate myself for doing my one pushup.
The last gem I found was the 5 Second Rule. I did just say that the micro habits were crazy small and they help you conquer your goals, one baby step at a time. However, when you are feeling overwhelmed and upside down, the thought of one pushup may as well be 100 by the way it feels. At my lowest, taking a shower every day was a crap shoot. The premise is that you have five seconds to put your idea to action before your brain starts to sabotage you with thoughts of why you can’t or what-ifs or this is silly. Mel’s 5-4-3-2-1 gets you down on the floor doing your one pushup before your brain can stop you — on some days more.
While finding your balance again, after your life implodes, may feel impossible– but it’s not. First and foremost, be kind to yourself, then baby steps. Identify what you can control, put into ridiculously small baby-step micro habits and take five seconds to propel yourself to action every day. Your toe hold will turn into solid footing before you realize it.