It was never in your life plan, certainly never predicted in your high school yearbook.
And yet, here you are. You've gone through a soul-sucking life experience and are suffering from the collateral consequences. Uncertainty, fear and disbelief rule the day. You keep waiting to wake up and find out this was all a bad dream.
The problem is that wishing, wanting and waiting don't help. Whether you're still in the midst of the storm or idling in the aftermath, the truth is that you have to reach down and make the decision that although you may have had no control over what happened to you, you do have control over how you respond and move forward. These six tips will help start you on that journey:
1. Don't Compare Your Blooper Reel to Other's Highlight Reel
At times it may seem like the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Social media exacerbates this perception because people tend to show only their green patch of lawn and not their backyard full of weeds!
Wouldn't it be refreshing to see someone's perfect vacation pictures captioned: "Don't know how we're really going to pay for this; We're up to our ears in debt! The kids got carsick and puked in the rental car, and Jack and I haven't had sex for weeks! Wish you were here!"
The grass isn't always greener. Everyone has something in life they wish they could undo, redo or erase. They just don't post it on Facebook.
2. Realize That Sometimes You Have No Control Over What Happens to You
Like the saying goes, life is what happens to you when you are making other plans. I truly believe that things happen for you rather than to you to nudge you into growth. When something unexpected happens, ask yourself "What's the lesson here?"
3. Surrender to Your Situation
Surrendering doesn't mean giving in; it simply means you stop fighting the fact that the situation happened. Accept the fact that it occurred, that it sucks, and that yes, it probably was unfair and undeserved.
When you continually try to fight against a situation, it's like trying to swim against a rip current. You can fight it and end up exhausted and pulled out to sea, or you can accept that it is done, swim parallel to it and overcome it. You cannot change what has already occurred but you can change how you respond to it. This is the tipping point to taking your power back.
4. Understand That Your Coping Mechanisms May Be Holding You Hostage
It is natural to feel disbelief, anger and sadness, and to want to blame others for what you are going through. These coping mechanisms are designed to help you deal with the situation at hand. They are also a defense mechanism, a way to push back on the reality of the situation.
The problem is, when you get stuck defending, denying, and blaming, you form an endless loop of negative thoughts that won't stop spinning in your head. The part of your brain that is controlling the loop is your ego. When you learn to harness your ego, you can transform the way you think and move past these self-destructive thoughts.
5. Harness Your Ego
Your ego is part of your consciousness, and it competes with your higher self, or spirit, for control of your thoughts. Your ego is fear-based and your higher self is love-based. The two cannot coexist because the higher self simply does not recognize fear. Think of the ego as the darkness and the higher self as the light switch; once the light goes on darkness cannot exist.
The ego thrives on fear and separation in order to control your thoughts. It causes you to think you need to be better because you're not good enough or are lacking in some way. The egoic brain creates this fear of inferiority and you react by putting others down as a way to raise your sense of self-worth up.
You can recognize your ego at work when you are critical or judgmental of others, when you take on the role of victim, or when you blame others rather than looking inward. When you feel self-important, when you feel the need to be right, and when anger, jealousy, and self-importance take center stage, that's your ego, and it isn't helping you. It creates a false sense of self.
Once you are aware that your ego is talking, you have begun the process of winning the mind chatter war in your head. Your awareness helps you realize that you no longer have to react to the fear it is creating. Your thoughts are not you but are of the ego. Remember that your ego and your higher self cannot co-exist; When you recognize the ego it has to take a back seat to your higher self. You then can move above these thoughts and shift your perspective from negative thoughts to ones that serve you positively.
6. Create Calm and Gratitude
The ego loves for you to focus on your past, on what you lost. What if you shift the way you look at your situation and focus on what you gained as a result?
What did you learn as a result of the trial? Are you more compassionate, less judgmental? Is your house calmer or cleaner? Did you start taking better care of yourself emotionally or physically? Are you finally putting yourself first?
Focusing on what you are grateful for instead of what you lost is a mindset that creates a calmer, happier you. And that is something to be grateful for!
Tired of feeling like you'll never be happy again?
Mary Holloway empowers women to reach down and find their inner warrior. Mary is a sought after speaker, resilience coach, and most importantly, a survivor of soul crushing life experiences. She is the founder of Resilience Café and the creator of the Boom Bounce Wow Resilience Method. Mary believes that every woman has an incredible warrior within her that can help her take back her life and emerge better, stronger, happier, and surprisingly thankful for the experience. She knows that women can choose not to be defined by their situation but rather by how they respond to it.
Follow Mary at ResilienceCafe.com or on Facebook.