4 Things to Do When Life Gives You Lemons
Around Tuesday, September 9, 2021, the weather started to change and I started to cough. I suffer from sinus infections once a year, so no big deal, take a Claritin, that should help. Then I started getting tired and couldn’t go through the day without taking a nap. I’d been working late into the evenings and staying up late, usually with plans to go to sleep. Then I'd lay down to wind down and instead, I'd look up and I’ve been on TikTok and YouTube for 4 hours. Solution: get more sleep, but now it’s been 4 days and the cough is getting worse and now I can’t sleep because it’s hard to breathe. Nothing that Vicks and a humidifier can’t fix, right. Completely and utterly wrong!!! By the end of this journey, I not only had to go to the emergency room but I was admitted to the hospital for five days and diagnosed with Covid-19 pneumonia. This is the worst thing that can happen to me. My father died of covid in March of 2020. I am in the middle of running a business with little help. I have a family that depends on me. I can't have covid, not now (like there ever is a good time to get sick ). I was depressed, worried, and scared about what was going to happen. I thought I may die. Luckily my story has a happy ending, I used the time in the hospital to hire help, rest, and reevaluate. I was treated and released and have had no long-term side effects.
This time also had me thinking about what a person does when the worst thing they can think of happens to them. For everyone the worst thing is different. For people I see as a divorce and family law attorney, it could be filing for a divorce. A divorce is in a sense, a loss because many people go through the 5 stages of grief; denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Compound the 5 stages of grief with also the feelings of failure and disappointment and then you meet my average client. Here are four decisions that helped me get over my worst-case scenario and they can help you through your "worst thing" whether it is divorce, death, and whatever life throws at you.
1. Ask yourself mind-shifting questions.
Regardless of what your “worst thing” is, the question becomes how can you transition to being ok or at least better and eventually good. How you decide to respond to matters. Michael Benard Beckwith, a spiritual teacher, states that during tough times you should ask yourself empowering questions versus disempowering questions. Instead of What’s wrong? Who’s to blame for my situation? Why me? What should I do? What could I have done differently? Instead ask questions like, if this experience were to last forever what qualities would have to emerge for me to have peace of mind? What lesson can I learn? For most people, they want to be strong but we forget that in order to get strong you have to go through something, push past what makes you comfortable. In order to recognize joy, we know what pain feels like. These uncomfortable, bad, unfortunate experiences are human experiences that no one enjoys. Yet, they allow us to appreciate the good parts of life that much more.
2. Ask for help.
Help comes in many forms. In my situation it was relying on my husband and in my business, people I had just hired to do important work for my clients. It was letting go of parts of my life in which I had control and being placed in a situation where I had absolutely no control. I was normally the person helping other people but asking for help allowed me to learn other lessons not only about myself but others as well. In addition, it made my recovery process much smoother. For you, it could be asking someone to cook meals because you can't think about what to eat let alone cook something. It could be asking or paying for someone to clean your home. It could be asking someone to take the kids so you can have a break. Help can also be a counselor, pastor, spiritual advisor, tarot reader, a wash and fold service, anything that can make getting back to a better version of yourself easier.
3. Focus on what can be done.
There is a saying that what you focus on grows. This is a universal truth. Tend a garden, water it, give it sun and you reap the benefits. If you forget you even have a plant (like I do whenever I purchase a plant) then it shrivels and dies. That is not to say that whatever your bad situation is will go away but focusing on change or something else entirely depletes the energy you give to the problem. By no means am I suggesting you ignore a bad situation that needs resolving, but reducing the effect it has on you, allows for other more positive circumstances to emerge. The "worst thing" is a crisis or at least feels like one. Judy Smith, a world-renowned crisis manager states to do the following when faced with a crisis:
Focus on the facts, which allows you to analyze what is really happening versus what your emotions are telling you is happening.
Figure out what you want or what you want for your outcome
Listen to yourself in quiet moments, you usually know the direction you want to go but you have to listen and have the courage to proceed with your intuition.
4. Give yourself grace.
I blamed myself for getting covid. I see a lot of people who blame themselves for their failed marriages, getting in an accident, or whatever other bad situation life places before them. Yes, it’s true that we have a part in every situation we are placed in, it does not mean you should continually beat yourself up about it. What is that going to solve by continuing to torture yourself? Grace is forgiving yourself for your mistake or the mistake that your think you did to place yourself in your scenario. It's being able to recognize there is more to you than this one decision. You have to live with yourself and should treat yourself better than any other person, especially when faced with your crisis or worst-case scenario. You can empower yourself to move past where you are now.
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