What To Do When It All Blows Up
Life can throw a lot of unexpected nasty stuff at us, sometimes all at once. After a while, you reach the tipping point. Where you could handle a few disappointments or problems, one will push you over the edge…
… and suddenly the whole world sucks and life is bleak.
“Problem overwhelm” can make you feel absolutely inept, helpless, weak, tired, hopeless and even dumb. Right? It’s like you’re doing everything you can, and no matter what, you’re getting dismal results and at the same time you’re bombarded by more and more and more problems!
All you want to do is curl up in the fetal position, hide under a rock, cover your ears and yell, “lalalalala, I’m not listening” until the dust dies down and the sun comes out again.
You can binge on ice cream. Or lose yourself in a night of foreign movies. Or go for a run. Or drink too much wine with your girlfriends. But the next morning, that mass of problems is right there at the foot of the bed, daring you to get up and face it. What a way to start the day... already stressed, already worried... it does not bode well for your mood or ability to cope!
So what can you do to get away from that helpless and hopeless feeling and regain your energy, hope and personal power?
1. Narrow your focus and identify the one big problem.
If “everything” is the problem, it’s because you’ve lost your ability to cope… so narrow your focus and point your finger at the one thing that’s the root of your troubles. Hint: it’s probably a problem that’s been festering for a while - something you’ve been avoiding, procrastinating on and hiding from. NAME IT.
2. Own it.
You want to feel better, yes? Step one is to own whatever actions you took or didn’t take… attitudes you had or didn’t have… that contributed to or caused this problem. Take back your power. Decide right now that you are the boss of your life and you will not let some stupid problem (even if you created it) ruin your life. Just as you co-created this problem, you can co-UN-create it.
3. Just the facts, ma’am.
What about this situation is truly a fact, and what is opinion? What kinds of stuff are you making up in your sleepless ruminations, and what is actually a “thing” to be dealt with? WRITE DOWN the facts, without the emotional package that accompanies it. For example, “I have accrued $30k in debt.” (Not, “I’m buried in debt, how will I manage, I’m gonna lose it all, people will think I’m a loser, my parents will be disappointed, my kids will hate me…” All of this emotional turmoil and potential consequences exist only in your imagination! You might actually be surprised at how supportive people are... but the point is, write down just the facts because they are the only things you have to deal with - you don't have to deal with situations that may not even occur!)
4. Analyze your response and your experience.
Step back and have a look. How much is this situation really affecting you… and how much of your attitude is due to your foul stressed-out mood? Your experience of any situation is made up of a complex mix of the facts plus your interpretation of the facts, which stems from your beliefs, perspectives and emotions. Your experience is malleable. You can choose another experience just by changing your interpretation of the facts. If you’ve allowed yourself to get completely twisted in knots about a situation, your experience would be different than if you looked at the situation from a different perspective.
5. Play with alternatives perspectives.
You can instantly change your experience by using your imagination. What would Mother Teresa think of this? What would she do in your shoes? What would your mom do? What would Einstein do? What would your very successful aunt or uncle do? What would your favorite teacher do? What would your hero(ine) do? What would your favorite celebrity do? What would your favorite author do? What would your dog do (seriously!)? What would a wise sage do? What insights and wisdom do these other perspectives bring to the table, that YOU can use?
6. What is one thing that can you do right now?
Although you might feel completely helpless in the face of what appears to be a complete life meltdown, you are never completely helpless. Write down one thing you can do right now, to face your biggest problem. That one small step is manageable and it is immensely helpful. Take it. NOW. Do that one thing you wrote down, first thing in the morning. Get it out of your hair!
7. Eat the frog first.
Yuck!! It’s a silly way of saying that for best results, you want to tackle the big ugly problem first, before it eats up your life with its heavy weight and makes you feel worse and worse (which poisons your attitudes toward other smaller problems!). Take teeny tiny daily steps to take care of the biggest problem you have, until you feel strong enough to take on the rest of the problems one by one. Believe me, this works. You’ll gain confidence and hope with each tiny step, and that will change your attitude toward your other challenges.
Do this same exercise for every problem you’re facing, starting with the biggest and moving down the list. But - here’s the secret - do it ONE PROBLEM AT A TIME. You see, as you’re taking proactive measures in coping with your bigger problems, the smaller ones will fade into oblivion. They’ll cease to be problems simply because you’re feeling better and you’re now able to see them as inconsequential dust bunnies instead of life-destroying monsters.
When life can sling arrows at us from all directions, we can build stronger defenses. We can uplift ourselves and gain confidence in one area of life; and that confidence will positively impact our perceptions and attitudes about other areas of life. The best and easiest way to create this incredibly supportive atmosphere is to watch several MindPT sessions for just 3 minutes each during the course of a day. If you join the Subscription Membership, you can easily grow your custom MindPT library of sessions that support your biggest areas of challenge, to create a solid foundation of life-enhancing attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, skills and habits. Join here now!