Three Questions to Ask When Life Gets Overwhelming

Every single day of our lives we are faced with the opportunity to choose how we are going to digest and react to hard times. I’ve found I really prefer grace.

Yesterday afternoon I bumped into a lady in the grocery store that I knew from the gym but hadn’t seen for a while.  We had taken some classes together over a year ago and were ‘smile and wave’ from the treadmill friends.

We started with casual chit chat but evolved into a conversation that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since. 

She had an accident 4 months ago that injured her and had been majorly disruptive to her lifestyle.  It had kept her out of the gym, left her unable to bite or chew normally, and made daily activity and interaction with others difficult. 

I could see it in her eyes. She was in the weeds.  As she spoke, she took blame for the accident, shamed herself for it happening. She talked about feeling isolated and alone. She said to me all the things that were very obviously rolling around in her head and dominating her thoughts.  “It’s my fault” “I have no hope of this getting better” “I’m not sure if or when I’ll be able to overcome this.”  Tears in her eyes, tears in my eyes, right there by the cantaloupes I just hugged on this woman.  I know she’s going to get better.  I know for sure she’s going to come through this and have a story and look back on this time one day as a season in her life.

Have you been there, friends?  Maybe you’re there now?  Are you dealing with a situation in your life that seems insurmountable?  You’re going to be better in the end.  I know that for sure. You just have to hang in there. Over the years I have been confronted with numerous situations both professionally and personally that were ground shaking, frightening, and disruptive.  Things that changed the way I did life every day, changed relationships with people who went from being there every single day to being strained or even over.   It felt hard, terrible.  Health scares like cancer, surgeries, autoimmune diseases that felt all consuming. Through every challenge, though, I have evolved and have started asking myself three questions about every situation before I fall over the edge of fret and despair.  I think they may help you too.

1- Is this something I have control over?

If there is anything you can do to change the current situation, you need to make a list and a plan of attack.  If there isn’t, you must realize that too.  There is something so comforting about releasing the need to try to control things you absolutely cannot change. 

Certainly, if it’s something that has already happened, there is usually nothing you can do to control that.  It’s impossible to put the toothpaste back in the tube.  There is no sense in berating yourself or agonizing over something that you cannot change.

Equally, if you’re not in charge, you’re not in charge. My personality tends to try to be in charge of everything and everyone. Learning that I’m just NOT has been freeing. I’ve learned to let that (stuff) go.

2- Am I speaking to myself the way I would speak to someone I love?

I often picture my daughter in the same situation I’m facing.  She’s becoming a strong, confident young woman y’all, and I intentionally speak peace, and kindness, and care to her.  I remind her of her strengths and speak love to her.  I deserve that too. 

So do you, reader.  If you wouldn’t speak to the most precious, loved beings in your life the way you are speaking to yourself- stop. No matter what the mistake is you made or how you think you could have done something differently, you deserve grace.

3- What can I do today to deal and move forward?

Sometimes, especially with my business, it’s coming up with a new plan to pour energy into.  If it’s a health situation, it’s allowing myself the time to heal or rest or seek treatment.  When I find myself in turmoil with a loved one, well this one is tricky and something I’m actively working on. What I’m finding though is that saying the things that need to be said and apologizing first if the situation warrants it is a huge step to finding peace.

You have to give yourself a grace period, whether it’s a moment to catch your breath or a week on the couch to heal, and then when the time is right move forward and focus on changing the season. 

As we finished up our chat with one last hug and Facebook friend requests sent, she thanked me for the pep talk and had a smile on her face.  I hope that bright spot in her day carried her to a place of peace for the rest of the day.  Being able to be there for her certainly carried me.

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