OK, I’m really letting you in now. Please don’t judge me…
The past 18 months have been a whirlwind of activity for me.
I gave birth to my first child. I left my high paying, senior level job to pursue my own business, lost one of my best friends to breast cancer, and now we are expecting our second child on our daughter’s second birthday.
People have often said I perform well under stress. That I seem to take it all in stride, that I can problem-solve in difficult situations. That somehow, I always have the answers.
But eventually, everyone has a breakdown. And recently I had mine.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but I’ve been unusually absent. I’ve written no blog posts, hardly any Facebook posts, no periscopes, no Marriage MakeOver Monday videos, minimal emails, not much of anything.
I’ve hidden behind the sickness and extreme fatigue of the first trimester of pregnancy. The nausea, indigestion, and insatiable need to sleep, have left me almost paralyzed on my couch and in my bed. Surely, I cannot make a video in this condition. Of course, I should rest instead of writing about this idea I want to share.
I’ve hidden behind the death of one of my closest confidants. She was my sounding board for so many ideas. She left me inspired after every conversation. Her death so unfair and so untimely. God did not answer my prayers, and I felt like a fool for having such faith that she would survive.
My home is a total mess. Keeping up with the tornado that is my toddler seems nearly impossible. So I don’t. Cooking, cleaning, and taking a shower feel like herculean tasks, that somedays, I’m just not up for. And I don’t. I’m so grateful my husband does not complain and how he quickly agrees to pick up take-out yet again after working hard for 12 hours or more a day.
My business is not a business at all. Businesses make money, and I’m not doing that. So for now, I’ll call what I’m doing a hobby. I’ve invested in trainings and programs that gave me all the tools to be successful and to offer my services to the masses. Yet, in my recent program launch, only 1 person signed up. 1 person. Don’t get me wrong, she is amazing and I LOVE working with her, but when I do the financial breakdown, I want to break down.
I’ve put myself out there in ways that have terrified me. I’ve tried to make a difference in people’s lives, to help them think about things differently, to help them heal their relationships. Several have written that it’s too late, or that they are just plain giving up. And so, I want to give up. What would it matter anyway?
On many days, I’ve felt depressed. Not happy with myself. Not happy with the people around me. It’s an awful place to be. Yet on the outside, I’m holding it all together and most would barely notice.
So, what am I, Miss RelateAble, life and relationship coach supposed to do? What can I tell myself to snap out of this funk, to pick myself up, and really pull it all together? After all, it’s a new year, and surely this behavior cannot continue.
Well, to get my breakthrough, I have to practice what I preach. Don’t get me wrong, I am still human. I cry. I get down. But I cannot, I will not let myself stay there. So I wanted to share with you my top 5 tried and true methods for turning a breakdown into a breakthrough. If you find yourself in a similar place, I hope one or more of these will help you find your way out.
#1. Practice Gratitude.
For some reason, this one always works for me, and it works quickly. When I am able to stop focusing on what’s going wrong, and turn my attention to all the ways I am blessed, I instantly feel better. Even in the loss of my friend, I’m so grateful to have had her in my life, and feel honored that I now get to play a part in continuing her legacy. I’m grateful, I can still remember how her voice sounds and that in moments of confusion, I can hear her friendly advice.
And when I’m feeling awful from my pregnancy, and can’t keep my food down, I’m able to remember the thousands of women who would trade places with me in an instant, who would be happy to endure the symptoms of pregnancy. And I remember that not long ago, I was one of them.
Being grateful for even the smallest detail of your life can instantly shift your perspective. It sounds simplistic, but when done consistently is very powerful. Here are some quick suggestions:
*When you want to complain, find the good in whatever is in front of you – whether it be a person or a situation. If nothing else, you can focus on how you are growing and learning more about yourself from what’s happening.
*Make it a habit to write down good things in your life. Recently, I saw the idea of a gratitude jar, where you jot down the things you are thankful for on a little piece of paper and place them in a jar you can pick up and read through at any time.
*When you are feeling really down, complete the sentence (out loud or to yourself) “I am grateful for ____________” or “Even though __________ is not how I want it to be right now, I can still be thankful that____________.”
2. Find Something Spiritually Uplifting.
I consider myself to be a very spiritually grounded person. Still, there are times when I don’t feel super close with God, or times where His answer is not the one I want. There are times where I don’t feel like praying because it seems useless. Yet, there are some songs that really lift my spirits, where I can truly connect with His spirit. There are scriptures that remind me of His goodness and His promises that make me feel encouraged. There are messages by certain ministers that leave me feeling optimistic and hopeful.
What is it for you?
What are the things that no matter what lift your spirit? Take stock of those things and incorporate them into your daily or weekly schedule. Even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes.
3. Act How You Want to Feel.
You’ve probably heard the term, “fake it until you make it.” While I don’t like that language exactly, there is something to acting a certain way to create a certain result. That’s what this concept is all about. If you want to feel happy, content, loving or kind, then act that way. Even before you actually feel it.
We often think we act a certain way because that’s how we feel. For example, I’m feeling annoyed, so I’m going to complain. But really, it works the other way around too. If you complain, it often fuels your annoyance. Next time, give this a try – when you feel annoyed or frustrated with someone, compliment them, or do something nice for them. If you want to rebuild connection to your spouse, act as if you are more connected than ever. If you want to feel accomplished, act as if what you are doing is the most important and successful thing you’ve ever tried. Eventually the feelings will follow and you won’t be “faking” it at all.
I know right now it might sound like I’m suggesting you walk around with blinders on, but it’s not that, really it’s not. Our feelings are a function of our thoughts. The story we are telling ourselves about a situation or another person. That story is always playing in the background and it generates emotions that support the plot. And we behave in ways that support that same story. If we can change the way we are behaving, and modify our actions, we begin to feel differently and are empowered to change the story completely. Imagine if every time someone upset you, you didn’t show anger, but instead showed compassion and love. You’d be in a constant state of peace.
Just trust me on this one. Give it a try.
4. Create New Thinking Habits.
One thing I’ve learned is that our brain is an incredibly efficient machine. Think about your morning. You probably have the same routine things you do each day. You don’t give it much thought. You probably mindlessly drive to work, not consciously remembering to turn here or there, you just do it because that’s what you’ve trained yourself to do.
Same with our thinking. There are certain thoughts that over the course of your life you have rehearsed over and over again that when certain situations happen, your thoughts about them are immediate. It’s your knee jerk reaction. Your pet peeve. And you don’t really question it, because it’s just the way you are.
Well the same goes for when you are stuck in a bad place. You tell yourself over and over again, it’s not worth the effort, you are so unfortunate, you can’t do anything right, things will never get better. You get really good at thinking those negative thoughts. So good that even if a positive thought comes up, you are quick to shoot it down.
The only way to create new thinking habits is to practice thinking the things you want to think about. The thoughts that make you feel better. And thoughts that you actually believe. Baby steps are ok here. For example you don’t have to go from “it’s not worth the effort” to “I can do anything!” Instead try practicing something like, “if I take action, I might get a good result” or “if I want to feel different, I’ve got to do something differently.”
The point is, you have to build up your positive thinking muscles, but with thoughts that actually work for you. Advice and pep talks from friends are all fine and good, but if you don’t believe a word they say, it’s useless. Same with self-talk. Take a second or two and write down the advice you’d actually give someone else in your same situation.
5. Set Some Goals.
Given that it’s the beginning of a new year, you may already have in mind some goals for 2016. Setting goals gives you direction, a place to work toward, something to achieve. I think the most important thing in setting goals is that they are realistic. Set yourself up for success. I’m just as ambitious as the next girl, but the devastation that can happen when you fall sooooooo short of a goal is pretty hard to handle. Consider having an achievable goal and then a stretch goal – the one that is really BIG! And remember, your goals are not written in stone, so if you need to make adjustments, feel free to do so!
I also like to create goals in increments, like 90 days. Trying to plan something for the whole year can sometimes be overwhelming, and honestly by April or May, I’ve forgotten what some of them are! Shorter term goals give you intense focus and also generate a sense of urgency. If you have all year to work on something, you’ll wait all year. But if you have 3 months (which is basically tomorrow) you’ve got to take action now.
Write down a list of all the things you’d like to be doing or working toward. Then narrow down that list picking a few things (like 3-5) that you will have laser like focus on for the next 3 months. When prioritizing your time, those things come first, and everything else is second, or doesn’t get done at all in the time frame you’ve set. I like this method because I usually have 1,000 things I want to do, and knowing that I’m holding off for just 3 months and picking a few keeps those other options alive in my mind.
So there you have it, 5 of the things I’ve done recently to breakthrough my own breakdown. Now of course, there are many other things like cry myself to sleep, eat a box of Frosted Flakes, and sleep all day that could have made the list too, but I’ll spare you those details. They are not that helpful anyway.
The point is, we all have down periods. Where we don’t want to talk to anyone, and we just want to wallow in our own sorrow. Where nothing seems to be going right for us, and everyone else is living picture perfect Facebook posts. You are entitled to those moments. What I want is to make sure they are just moments, and not major life turning points.
I hope something here has been helpful, and if you’d like to talk more, I’m here! I offer a free 30 minute consultation to work through anything that’s got your stuck or upset right now. I’d be happy to help in any way I can. Email me now!