If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity, it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, “I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.” – Ann Landers
Divorce, as with any major life transition, will at some point leave us asking the question, “What do I do now”?
These five little words, which can creep up on us everyday, many times during the day or never leave us alone, if left unanswered, will eventually cause us emotional, psychological and many time physical pain and suffering.
Most often, it leaves us anxious, scared, paralyzed, overwhelmed, weepy, angry, irritable, sad, insecure and unable to focus on those things most important to us.
The key to mastering this feeling of utter paralysis is to be prepared for what to do when this powerful, albeit tiny, little question rears its ugly head!
The following steps will guide you to manage the feeling that you are losing control when you don’t know what to do next.
Step One: Take a deep breath.
We all take breathing for granted as it is something that is done without our thought and effort. What we don’t often think about, however, is that how we breathe can affect our ability to slow down and think more clearly. When we begin to feel anxious, our bodies respond by breathing faster, our adrenaline begins to rush through our bodies and our body temperature begins to rise. It is at this point that slow, deep breathing will help us to regain control of the involuntary response that our body is having.
When you first begin to feel anxious, close your eyes and take 10 slow deep breaths, or as many as it takes, until your body begins to slow into a more calm and settled place.
Step Two: Journaling
Divorce can leave us not only asking what we are supposed to do next, but it will also leave us with our heads spinning and our thoughts and emotions in a mutiny against us.
It is hard enough to get out of bed in the morning…almost impossible to consider managing children, getting to and performing at work, eating, sleeping and taking care of a home.
One of the most helpful suggestions I can make is to begin journaling. Purchase a beautiful, decorative and calming journal and begin carrying it with you at all times. When you have that surge of anxiety and you feel yourself sinking into an abyss of confusion, get out your journal and just start writing.
Don’t think, don’t edit, don’t worry about how it sounds or looks…just write. Every thought, every “to do” task, every emotion, every question…everything that enters your mind. Just get it down on paper. Once it is on paper for you to go back to you when you are in a better place, you will feel your breathing begin to slow down and your thoughts stop spinning. At a later time, you will be able to look over what you wrote and manage all of the questions and thoughts that overwhelmed you earlier.
Step Three: Take Control
Many times our fear and anxiety is based on feeling out of control. In reality, most parts of our lives are within our control and are simply buried beneath our emotions, insecurities and overwhelm.
Journaling with help to get our thoughts, emotions and fears out of our heads and onto paper, but it is then that the hard work begins. Take those thoughts and anxieties and look at them with fresh eyes and the courage and confidence that Ann Landers expressed in her quote, “I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.”
Breaking it down into smaller parts and taking one little step at a time begins to clarify how much we are in control of our time, energy, emotions, actions and beliefs.
Step Four: Take Care of Yourself
We can only put out what we have inside. Ultimately, the factors that influence your health and vitality are your decisions. The food you eat, the lifestyle you lead and the health and fitness that you incorporate are what will create the highest functioning YOU! And, you will need to be at your peak performance to handle the opportunities and experiences that you will have during this time of transition.
What will determine your life choices and your level of action, and therefore the impact on your quality of life are three things:
• A compelling vision and purpose that will drive you to follow through
• The decisions you make: what you resolve to stand for, believe and take action on
• A schedule plan for implementation
Creating and maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit will be the most important commitment you make to yourself.
Step Five: Ask For Help!
You are not alone. You are not the first…nor the last woman that will go through the transition of divorce. Yours will be unique journey of creating the life you want, but there are many who want your inner light to shine!
As women, we are often under the belief that we should be able to handle everything on our own…but this is NOT true!
There are an extraordinary number of tools, resources and support out there for you. You will need advice, guidance, and a strong and supportive circle of people in your life.
You are the champion of your own destiny, but you will make better choices and decisions if you are aware of all of the options and resources available to you.
So, ask for help. Find a support group, join a social network, take up a hobby that you haven’t had the time or energy to do or work with a Life Coach to jumpstart your journey and create a path to move along. A life coach will help you to answer the question “What do I do next?”
Yours will be a journey of discovery and reconnecting to yourself. It is yours to own and you are in control of its direction. You are bold, beautiful and brave… and all that you need to get the life you want is within you.