Realities shift all the time in different ways. We want to learn to deal with this type of chaos well.
We started it excitedly wondering what this new decade would bring. Turns out it was Tiger King, Schitt’s Creek, the birth of TikTok, battling sourdough starters, banana bread, investing all our money in toilet paper and learning the way of the future—virtual school.
What if we objectively looked back on this 2020 year of change with gratitude of the lessons learned? Lessons in pivoting, resiliency, strength, community and love. We learned how important mental health, getting enough sleep and stress management are to our overall wellbeing. How we need a strong inner foundation to weather any storm. How we need space to think and reflect on what means the most to us.
Most of us were in the dark about the intense shift of reality that was about to hit us like a freight train. But it didn’t just happen in 2020. Realities shift all the time in different ways. We want to learn how to deal with this type of chaos well.
So, what do we do when change hits us out of nowhere?
We build habits of responding that serve us well in the moments we need them.
Habit 1: Building Resiliency
Internal resiliency is a muscle that needs to be worked diligently ahead of time in order to handle times of turbulence. It starts with our thoughts. Psychological research shows that negative thinking actually weakens us and our immune system (which is kind of important during a pandemic). Developing strength of the mind begins with our power to choose.
Yes, one of our greatest powers is the ability to choose our thoughts. Believing is seeing. What we believe, the story we tell ourselves—our self-talk—is what we end up seeing in our lives. If we believe we don’t have control over our own life and choose to blame others for what is happening, then we’ll always feel out of control and anxious.
Or we can choose to interpret these situations differently. Try thinking thoughts of growth and opportunity. From this mindset, we can see the nuggets of gold in any situation, and that will propel us forward from chaos to calm.
Two ways to build this resiliency and strength:
1. Meditation and/or quiet moments without disruption, social media or screens
2. Make a small list (3-5 bullets) of different activities that make you happy or lift you up. Return to these when you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated or not yourself. These might include singing or dancing to your favorite song, walking out in nature, reading, cooking, talking to a loved one, exercising, etc.
Habit 2: The Release Process
Sometimes a situation comes out of nowhere and you aren’t prepared. Or maybe there’s a lot going on and you’re mentally exhausted and one more thing is piled on. Here’s a great process to engage during those moments:
1. Let your body release whatever you are feeling. Maybe that looks like going somewhere private and yelling it out, yelling into a pillow or intensely crying. Or maybe journaling is your thing. Whatever it is, the feelings need to come out.
2. Place a hand on your heart and a hand on your belly. Connect with your body, take three deep, belly-filling breaths and repeat “I am safe.”
3. Find your list of activities that give you that “I feel amazing, I can do anything” type feeling and do something from it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness around us, the anxiety that others are feeling, the intense emotions and energy. Checking in with our mind and body helps keep us grounded in the present moment. The phrase “I am safe” reminds us that the world might be chaotic, but we are in a safe space. Recognize that you can’t control others or the situations. The only thing you can control is yourself and how you react to a situation.
Habit 3: Illumination
This is the fun one! It’s a habit formed over time—one you notice happening as you grow stronger. This is when the affected parts of you transform from the messy cocoon into the beautiful butterfly, floating gracefully through the chaos. This is the magic. You recognize it radiating through your body when you are confronted with the same situation again—but this time your resiliency shines through. Always remember that the most beautiful diamonds are made from the most intense pressure.
I started my calm to chaos journey three years ago when a big ole’ truth bomb hit me over the head. I didn’t like my reactions to certain situations, most of them including my mother. This journey to untangle my belief system has been a hot mess! But it was, and forever will be, one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am releasing what is holding me back. I am stepping into my true authentic self and I am living the life I was born to live, with complete gratitude. This leads me back to peace and calm every time. Leads me back to me!
Go shine your light you beautiful butterfly! The world needs more of you!
What nuggets of gold can you find in your hardest situation?
Image via Nat Daniels