Oh, the unnerving feeling of losing control. Don’t cha just hate it?
I’ve interviewed scores of women on my internet radio show Heart & Soul for Women of Faith who’ve shared that “losing it” is one of their biggest fears and most daunting obstacles.
Why does not being able to control our circumstances, surroundings, or responses of others cause us to fall apart at the seams and resort to all manner of unhealthy activities?
Eating not two but three pints of Cherry Garcia comes to mind as does the pervasive, soul-sapping “un-activity,” procrastination. Sometimes we choose to stick our head in the sand and hope the situation will blow over.
And sometimes lack of control over one or two circumstances will lead to a feeling of lack of control over everything. In a flash our whole world, in our mind’s eye anyway, turns upside down into one big ole chaotic mess.
I asked a friend and colleague of mine, Life Coach Joann Lim, why she thought lack of control is such a bugaboo for many women and why it can lead to an overall feeling of utter chaos. Joann said CHAOS = CHANGE. We often feel like our lives are out of control and chaotic when our status quo is disrupted, that is, when change of any kind takes place.
A few short weeks ago a team of movers swarmed into our house to box up our belongings and transport them from Lovely Lynchburg, Virginia, to Beautiful Bel Air, Maryland. Sure enough, change was occurring right in front of me. I felt control-less in the midst of chaos despite the team’s orderly manner and noteworthy professionalism. Breathe, Jory, breathe!
But check this out. Joann showed me that the letters for C A N are in the word CHANGE whereas the letters for C A N N O T are not!
Hmmm. True that. So how ’bout if we focus on what we CAN do when life seems to overwhelm us?
Let’s start with the four chief categories that comprise life as we know it – Physical, Psychological, Emotional, and Spiritual. And let’s put several options under each category that will help us stay grounded in the midst of chaos/change.
[I polled my colleagues, clients, Facebook friends, and captive audience at a recent Women’s Expo in Baltimore, Maryland to come up with the following list.]
Proven Suggestions for Staying Grounded in the Midst of Chaos
- Take a nature walk and truly appreciate your surroundings
- Eat well
- If you’ve downed too much ice cream, go eat something healthy to get back on track
- Drink plenty of water
- Choose to smile despite what’s going on around you
- Take a bubble bath
- Drink warm tea
- Arrange fresh flowers
- Take a yoga class (or Zumba or Nia or belly dancing … whatever you enjoy)
- Reach out to your spouse for intimacy
- Meditate or contemplate on all that’s good in your life
- Think of three small things you can do that will make you feel as if you’re back in control and/or making progress.
- Prioritize your “to do” list
- Focus on one task at a time
- Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing to help cut down on overwhelm
- If the task at hand doesn’t fit into the big picture, don’t do it
- If necessary, give yourself a set amount of time to fret and stew
- Set a timer – when your time is up, move on
- Be at peace with asking for help
- Ask for help
- Take care of yourself
- Remember the oxygen mask rule – you need to put yours onfirst
- Establish routines and stick to them
- Ask yourself: “In five years, will this really matter?”
- Celebrate your victories!!!! (a.k.a. “Do the Happy Dance!” wherever and whenever you can)
- Talk your concerns over with friends and family
- Don’t complain as this will merely reinforce your feelings of chaos and overwhelm
- Seek counsel from trusted advisors and mentors
- Maintain a positive, grateful attitude (in all things, give thanks)
- Enjoy your pets and/or whatever else brings you a sense of joy
- Ask yourself, “What will bring my heart peace right now?”
- Follow your intuition
- Pray about everything
- Be of service to others
- Visualize C A L M – what does that look like for you?
- Visualize and affirm a positive result
- Read soul–nurturing books, articles, and magazines
- Refresh your soul with music or anything else that feeds your spirit
- Ask yourself, “How can I handle this situation in a way that has eternal significance?”
What I find particularly useful for me is to weigh everything against my God-given purpose, which is akin to asking the eternal significance question above.
As put forth by author and theologian Gordon T. Smith in his book Courage & Calling, we can think of purpose or calling as having three dimensions. (1) What is our general purpose or calling as children of God? (2) What is our specific purpose or calling that allows us to use our unique gifting to touch the lives of others? (3) And what are our primary tasks and responsibilities put before us right now?
As I’ve helped women discern their life purpose, I’ve discovered that many think they have to wait till a certain stage of their life is over before they can “find, follow, and fulfill” their divine calling. “When I graduate from college . . . when I finish grad school . . . when my babies go off to college . . . when I finish paying for grad school . . . when my parents don’t need me anymore.” We tend to think we can’t live out our purpose until [fill in the blank].
We’d be waiting forever if the planets had to align just right for us to live with purpose, passion . . . and joy.
If you’re home with young children, if you’re taking care of elderly parents, if you’re nurturing a husband back to health, if you’re faithfully fulfilling your God-given tasks and responsibilities, then know you are in the heart of your purpose. Add meditating on that comforting thought to the suggestions above. It will serve as your soul-soothing plumb line in the midst of what appears to be pure chaos.
Even if we’re in a fairly calm stage of life right now, change is waiting for us right around the corner. Let’s equip ourselves with a plan and strategy now so we can be prepared for whatever may come our way.