It’s no secret that life can get chaotic. Chances are, if you are using the word “new” to describe your current circumstances, you are facing new challenges and a bit of stress. New parents have different dynamics at home. A new job brings an opportunity for meeting friends and learning skills that will enhance your career. A new house means decorating your dream home, but also the free-for-all of seeing moving boxes everywhere. Each scenario can make you feel out of control and wishing you could just feel back to normal.
Consider these tips to help you make sense of those topsy-turvy circumstances:
The first step in overcoming any challenge is recognizing there is one. We like comfort and things to remain the same. It generally makes us feel secure and peaceful. It can be scary to step out and do things we have never done before, especially if it’s in a new place or with people we do not know. Changes can be good but are often accompanied by caution and concern. So naturally, there is a tension between feeling apprehensive and motivated to move forward. If you find yourself experiencing this tension, then you are not alone. Refusing to deny our emotions is the first step toward feeling back to normal.
Embrace the disruption when you feel out of control.
Change is disruptive and divisive. It takes away our consistency and shatters our emotional safety net. Yet, it is equally a starting point for new opportunities and improvement. Walking through change enables personal growth and professional maturity. No one will be the same once they see this task through to the end. This disruption a necessary ingredient to help you feel back to normal in a better way. The pandemonium you are experiencing can become an exercise in simplicity and minimalism. It is a great time to take a step back and re-evaluate what really matters and what you consider important. Discovery and clarity are gained when we choose to step outside of the mundane.
It can also be a time to shed some emotional and physical baggage, letting go and closing the chapter to begin a brighter one. Maybe you gained some insight into how busy you have become at the cost of acquiring meaningful relationships. Now, you may want to be more intentional in your commitments. Or perhaps you have found a new appreciation for nature and desire to spend more time in the outdoors. If we look, beauty is discovered within the chaos if we search for it, even when you feel out of control.
Start somewhere – Anywhere.
Even if you anticipate your journey to be slow-going. Just start. Do something. Go somewhere. You cannot create less chaos without amending your environment. It requires that you keep going forward. As a counselor, I often share with clients, “Let’s keep going forward – whatever that looks like in this moment.” It does not matter how little or how much you accomplish – keep putting one foot in front of the other. Do that for a few days, and then you can look back to see how far you have come. You will never feel back to normal again if you never get started.
Be focused, but flexible.
Be open to new ideas and accept how things will have to be for a while. When life seems cluttered, we feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all and yearn for a quick resolution. Hastily, we begin to do things or make decisions that may actually prolong our frustration and delay the outcome. In essence, we become part of the process that makes us feel out of control.
Did you recently move and feel overwhelmed? Unpack your bedroom and be content with take-out food for a few days until you can unpack your kitchen. Have you started a new job and now find yourself feeling overwhelmed wondering if you made the right decision? Take hold of why you signed on and look at your job description. Instead of searching for a quick fix, identify the most important thing to address and then become flexible with the rest.
Focus allows us to move forward, and flexibility creates space to take a breath and enjoy a calm moment.
Re-connect with friends.
When we feel out of control, our friends may bring a necessary familiarity to unsettling circumstances When we feel unknown or like a new kid in school, old friends remind us that we are not lost or invisible. When we feel discouraged because our footing feels unstable, friends offer encouragement and remind us we are part of a community and not alone.
Sometimes in order to feel back to normal we have to create a new one. That can mean seeking out new friendships with people of different interests and ideas. Diversity nurtures self-discovery and resilience. When we expand our ideas then we become a better person and friend.
Find your gaze.
When life become overwhelming, we need somewhere to put our gaze. A place where we can hang our hats, and fix our attention, to give us direction. For some, this is their faith. For others, it may be writing a to-do list and setting weekly goals. It just needs to be something you can turn to when mixed emotions set in and questions jumble our thoughts. Having something that helps us get centered keeps us grounded and moves us from stress and anxiety to the present moment. Soon, we Weill feel back to normal because we have found our inner peace and confidence to continue to move forward.
Express your gratitude.
My grandmother grew up in the Great Depression. Her father was an unemployed bricklayer, and her mother was a housekeeper. She volunteered during World War II. She divorced her abusive husband in the 1950s, when it was considered embarrassing and shameful. She worked in a school cafeteria to support herself after her second husband died of a heart attack. Shortly into retirement, she developed terminal cancer.
Yet, she was always the most encouraging person to be around. Everyone loved being around her. Whenever someone complained, she would admonish, “There is always something to be grateful for…remember that!” Who knew that the research would later support my grandmother’s wisdom? Taking the time to count our blessings immediately shifts our focus to something positive and improves our attitude and perspective.
Remember you will feel back to normal again.
When your life feels out of control, it’s easy to forget that this is just a temporary situation. It seems like this turbulent time will go on forever because there is no end in sight. We feel stuck in a whirlwind of uncertainty. Yet, the reality is that the plane will land at your anticipated destination. And usually the journey turns out to be shorter than you expected. Seasons have a beginning and an end. Eventually, the dust settles and routine will settle in as familiar guest.