Have you ever lost a job? Lost a love? Lost your mind and tore your world apart to “get right” again?
Did you get a little distance from the situation and think, “Oh, THANK GOD!”
You’re my people.
There are several events I look to as pivot points for my life. Situations where – to my liking or not – I had to pivot and find a new path, a new outlook, a new way of doing things.
I won’t lie – in the moment, those events left me awash in waves of hot, dark hell crying for mercy.
But I did what I do best. I took the next breath . . . and the next . . . and the next.
Eventually all those breaths added up to minutes. Minutes turned into hours. Hours, days. Then, one day, from far away, I could look back at the man, the job, the meltdown, the (fill in your own blank) and say, “Damn – I didn’t like it in the moment, but that really changed me for the better!”
How do you navigate the change that comes from tough times?
Do you let it mold you and sculpt you into something better or do you get bitter?
Here are a few things I’ve learned about overcoming my Bitter-B tendencies:
I have to stop myself from making up a different story. I’m a writer and I’m southern, which means embellishment is one of the things I do best. So, when I’m going through a tough time, I remind myself to recite the facts, only the facts – without any “supporting details.”
Once I get my story “straight” I ask:
What am I REALLY upset about?
A lot of times, it’s not the actual thing that I’m upset about. It’s the ideas/dreams/stories I told myself about the thing that I’m upset about losing.
Now that I’ve reframed, do I want what I lost? OR, do I want a different/better version that’s more in line with my dreams and ideals?
This is where I’m able to gain footing. Most times, I don’t really want the actual thing I lost. I want the version of the thing that I had in my head.
What action steps can I take to bring me closer to what I REALLY want?
I’m a list-maker, so I pull out a pad and get to listing. Some of my ideas are shit. But, sometimes, I come up with something brilliant. (PSA: If you’re applying these steps to your breakup – stalking, whether online or in person, is NOT an action item. I repeat, stalking is bad, m’kay?!?!?!)
Of course, sometimes, I continue spiraling. And, when I look at it, it’s because I’m ruminating. That’s when I make a deal with myself to step telling myself “the story.” (Yes, read that again.)
I’ve noticed that it’s worse when I’m in the car. I’ll be driving down the road and my monkey-mind will be on chattering away going over and over and over what happened, what I did wrong, what they said, what I said, what I could’ve done differently, what they should’ve done differently, what I wished I would’ve said . . . and on . . . and on . . . . and on. Seriously, it’s like the crazy train pulls into the station and blows the whistle for all the nutty thoughts to come aboard!
So, I redirect my thoughts when I find my mind winding up the story box. Even if it’s just 15-minutes at a time. I’ll sing along to the radio or put on a podcast – I’ve noticed that when I engage with words, I disengage my internal monologue. But, if you’re in a story spiral, you’ll have to experiment until you find your key to stop the self-talk.
Finally, I seek forgiveness.
I’ve learned that I don’t have to have an apology – or even a conversation – to forgive someone. I simply get quiet and picture them in my mind and I say to them, “Person’s Name, I forgive you and release you. I wish you nothing but the best.” Then, I picture them getting lighter and lighter and lighter until they turn into a fine mist and they’re gone.
This isn’t a one-and-done practice, though. Sometimes, it takes several forgiving and releasing visualizations for me to let peoople go. But, that isn’t the hard part.
The hard part is to forgive and release myself. I let go of the ridiculous expectations I had for myself, I let myself off the hook for saying horrible things, I just let it go and feel the freedom from being released. When I’m able to do it, it’s quite a remarkable experience. I urge you to do the same.
Finally, I take responsibility for my story and my life moving forward.
Yes, that last chapter wasn’t so lovely, but I can turn the page and start penning something marvelous now! After all, I’m in charge of my experiences and you are responsible for yours! That’s why I’ve started making plans – both professionally and personally – to be active in drafting a bright future. Grab your calendar and put some fun outings and challenges on there! It’ll give you something to work toward and look forward to conquering.
Of course, if you’ve tried everything you can think of to get out of your own head and can’t stop the cycle, consider talking to someone. Do your research and choose a life coach or a counselor to help you identify some strategies that will get you through this roadblock and on the path to a better life.
At the end of the day, though, what matters most is that you’re able to learn and grow from your experiences. Life should make you better, not bitter! Let’s drop our sad stories, let’s stop being victims and let’s embrace lasting change and renewed strength.
Cheers, dears, to the happy missteps and glorious mistakes that make us our most glorious selves.