Despite our best plans and designs, sometimes “life happens”. Whether it’s a brewing nor’easter that fills the proverbially radar screen or a little squall that passes quickly; navigating life’s storms isn’t a magical talent some possess and others don’t. It may not sound sexy, but becoming more adept at dealing with what life throws at us is a matter of practicing helpful
Here are three go-to strategies I use for myself and in my life coaching with clients:
Find the ‘can’. When we’re faced with life’s downside, we tend to hyper-focus on the “can’t” of the situation (our brains default to this thinking when we experience stress). Instead, take a couple of deep breaths and visualize yourself stepping outside of the situation and viewing it from a broader perspective. What’s something you can do/say/think? Bonus points if you use this as a journaling/writing exercise. Getting it “out of your head” and onto paper is a proven strategy to help us brainstorm more possibilities when faced with stressful events.
What’s the next smallest step? When you feel stuck in a situation life’s thrown at you, ask yourself, “what’s the next smallest step I can take to shift my position in the situation?” This might look like asking friends if they know of a resource to help you, or sitting in nature to ground your body. Above all, KEEP IT SIMPLE. Don’t discount any action as being “too small”
(one of my go-to’s since I often work from home is to sit on my patio for 5 minutes). It’s usually the small steps that feel doable and you’re more likely to take action on something smaller rather than an action that feels daunting. Once you’ve completed the next smallest step, you’ll find you can identify the next step, and then the step after that (it’s crucial to do each step before you worry about the next step to avoid overwhelm).
So what happens if you try the strategies outlined above and you still feel stuck in the storm? Here’s my recommendation: face the fear. Yep, I said it: face the fear. It’s there, so you may as well spend a few minutes acknowledging and honoring the fearful feelings that are bubbling up. (When working with clients, fear is the #1 emotional block we uncover – and dismantle – in order to help them move toward action and ultimately, toward their big goals and dreams). Now, I’m not suggesting you stop there and stay in those fearful feelings. In fact, that’s one of the worst things we can do. Interestingly enough, we usually have a wonky belief that if we name or acknowledge our fear, it will have a firmer grip on us. Here’s some good news: In reality, quite the opposite is true! Once you’ve identified and named those fears, you’ve actually empowered yourself and freed up your ability to create possibility, get unstuck. Bonus: the strategies of finding the ‘can’ and taking the next smallest step become even more doable and effective, even if it is done one step at a time.