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How to take action when life hits us hard

When we’re in a bad place, we have a choice.

We can distract ourselves to lessen the pain. Temporarily.

Or we can take action to alleviate the pain. Permanently.

Most of us choose to distract ourselves. In a shopping mall, with shiny new things we don’t need. With food, usually unhealthy salty and sugary snacks. With drink, whatever takes our fancy. With drugs, ‘legal’ and otherwise. With work, the longer the hours, the better. With sex, not intimacy.

I used to be a master of self-distraction. Work was my chosen poison. I would take on complex projects with impossible deadlines and bury myself in them. The more hours I spent at and on work, the fewer there were left to do anything other than eat and sleep.

This approach worked for me for years… until, one winter’s day, I imploded. There was simply no more space inside me to bury the pain. I knew I had to make a decision.

I could either choose to distract myself more effectively and deeply (drugs and booze, anyone?).

Or I could choose to start alleviating the pain.

I chose the latter. I knew this was my only real choice if I wanted to be healthy and happy. Which I did.

I looked at EVERY aspect of my life to see what needed to change to get to the root cause of the pain.

I took action, and started to make the changes in my life that needed to be made.

I found my path out of the pain. And continue to work on it, every day.

Here are some things that have helped me and others work through our pain.

  • Find solace in nature. Nature just allows you to be, with no judgement and no expectations. It gives unconditionally. There is such peace to be found in nature that it can only help you to find the peace within you. Nature is the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Find solace in friends. Your true friends are a bit like nature. You feel held and supported when you are with them. If you don’t feel this, they are not true friends.
  • Find solace in meditation. A meditation practice helps you get out of your head and into your heart. And your heart is a much kinder place to be! When you find the type of meditation that works for you, it’s another gift that keeps on giving.
  • Find solace in animals. Animals have much to teach us about how to live fully in the moment. And this is the secret of happiness. You can walk a dog along the same route every day and he will never get bored. For him, the route is new every day, it’s full of experiences (smells, tastes, sights, sounds, sensations) that weren’t there the day before.
  • Find solace in therapy. Therapy can really help some people get to the point where these other forms of solace really work. The key is finding a therapist who fully resonates with you.

Distracting ourselves is NEVER the answer to feelings of pain. Distraction is denial and ALWAYS leads to more and deeper pain.

We should choose to grow, to alleviate the pain permanently. This is the ONLY route to happiness. Such personal growth isn’t easy. It takes courage, diligence and patience.

And you’re worth it.

Image credit: Sarah Blick

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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Why the pace of change matters when you make life changes

pace-of-change-http://agingdisgracefullywell.com-sarah-blickI’m an ‘act first, think later’ kind of person. So my pace of change modus operandi for life changes has always been fast and furious. Whilst there are many times when this MO has served me well, there are also many when it hasn’t. At all.

Fast and furious is disruptive. That’s its essence. So when you need to disrupt your life, fast and furious is the way to go.

When should you use the fast and furious approach? I’ve found it useful in situations such as these:

  • When I’m really stuck. If I can’t make a decision about something that I know needs to change, I just act radically at the first opportunity. For example, when I was trying to decide whether to move to a new place or not and found the rational pros and cons to be balanced, I let external forces make my decision for me. I applied for jobs in all locations and moved to the one with the job offer.
  • When I’m uncomfortable, but don’t know why. Changing one thing rapidly shifts everything around a bit and helps me understand what was making me feel uncomfortable.
  • When I feel a strong, often irrational pull towards something. If I’m not feeling overwhelmed, I follow these urges as they always provide me with something I need.
  • When a member of my pack needs my help. Requests for help are often urgent, even if they’re not framed as such. I’ve learned that it’s best to act quickly when someone needs help.

At the other end of the pace scale is slow and steady. I’m FINALLY learning to become friends with 4460963090_b53518675d_b-1024x719slow and steady. Slow and steady would have saved me A LOT of money over the years. Money on movers. Money on con man landlords. Money on air fares.

When should you use the slow and steady approach? This is when I’m going to use it from now on:

  • When I’m feeling overwhelmed. Every decision I’ve ever made when overwhelmed was a bad one. Bar none. Overwhelm clouds your instinct and thinking.
  • When I know where I’m heading, but know it’s not yet time. Patience hasn’t always been my strong suit, but I now recognize when it’s needed. Whenever I feel like I’m forcing something, pushing too hard, I stop. And wait patiently for the right opening to appear. The right opening is one through which I can walk with ease.
  • When I don’t know where I’m heading, but am not completely stuck. If I have some insight or information, but not enough to move forward with confidence, I sit tight.
  • When I’m scared. Every decision I’ve ever made when scared was a bad one. Bar none. Fear clouds your instinct and thinking.
  • When making purchases. Every impulse purchase I’ve ever made was a bad one. Bar none. For my health. For my bank balance.

You might be thinking that, in reality, very few actions are made from either extreme, but from somewhere in between. And you’re right. But the most important point to note is this:

Each of us has a personality that tends towards one end of the spectrum. If we want a life of ease, we need to learn to use the other end, too.

Believe me, if I, Ms. Fast and Furious, can dip into the unfamiliar waters of slow and steady, ANYONE can.

Let’s change it up!

 

hare photo credit: Out for a Run, Severn Valley, Gloucestershire via photopin (license)

tortoise photo credit: Sulcata 3 via photopin (license)

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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Overwhelmed by change? Patience & pacing will help

I REALLY messed up recently. During a time of too much change, I made a bad decision that cost me a lot of money.

For a very good reason, I had decided to move from one city to another. That meant resigning from one job and finding a new one, and leaving my apartment in one city and finding a new one. It was a lot, but seemed manageable to me… as long as nothing went wrong.

I quickly found a new job and had to start there within less than a week. No worries, I thought to myself, I can stay on site during the week (this was offered), go home to my old city on the weekends, and take my time to find an apartment in my new city. After two nights on site, it became apparent that staying there wasn’t going to work for me. First, the kitchen was unusable. And second, the bed was so small, it felt as though I was sleeping in an undersized coffin. That was the first thing that went wrong.

The second thing that went wrong was that my new job was much more intense than I had ever imagined. Plus I wasn’t enjoying the work at all. That was the third thing. And the fourth was that no landlord I’d come across in my initial search seemed to be willing to consider me as a tenant. I didn’t have the paperwork required to rent an apartment (I hadn’t been living in the country long enough).

Overwhelm started to set in big time.

I felt under enormous pressure to find an apartment. So when, after two weeks, I found a landlord who would rent me one as long as I paid six months’ rent upfront, I grabbed it. Without wasting a moment, I signed the lease and paid the money. ALL I wanted was to remove the apartment pressure from myself so I would feel less overwhelmed.

What a mistake I made. The landlord was a con man and the apartment had such a severe noise problem that I was forced to leave after only a couple of months. When I tried to break the lease, the landlord was able to delay and manipulate things in such a way that I ended up paying four months of rent for somewhere I wasn’t living any longer.

A decision I made when feeling completely overwhelmed ended up costing me a lot of money.

What should I have done instead?

I should have stopped making ANY important decisions until the overwhelm passed. I could have stayed at a hotel temporarily – even a three-month stay would have cost me less than the money I lost on the apartment. I should have tapped into some patience.

The minute you start feeling overwhelmed is the minute you need to sit down. And do these three things:

  1. Stop taking on more change.
  2. Stop making important decisions.
  3. Start assimilating the recent changes you’ve made into your life so they feel more comfortable.

Stop. Assimilate. Decide.

And give yourself a break. Plus a pat on the back. You’ve earned it.

 

photo credit: submerged glade via photopin (license)

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).