In times of turmoil, despair, or confusion, the hardest task to overcome is the feeling of being helpless, lost, or uneasy. That distinct feeling of anxiety, panic, feeling nothing, feeling too much or being torn between trying to do everything and doing nothing is what I am referring. To not know what to do or to no longer feel comfortable in your own skin is scary. To no longer have clarity, peace of mind, and good sleep because it has been replaced with racing thoughts, physical discomfort of a heavy heart, a stomach as if gripped in a vice, or no appetite are the hallmarks that things are awry.
Regardless of what caused it, the hardest task will be to just sit with these feelings, thoughts, and physical ailments. It is also probably one of best things you can do. Avoidance, numbing, self-medicating or denying all of it only compounds the problem. The sooner you face everything, the faster things will resolve. In this age of instant gratification, money seeming to buy happiness, and awesome technology, it seems counter intuitive to sit back and just immerse yourself in the situation.
While friends and family will want to help you, the reality is, some things can’t be taken care of by others. You and only you alone can go through a trying experience. Only you know yourself best and how to proceed once you feel a little bit more aware and calm from whatever situation you are trying to resolve. If you can learn to face yourself, alone in the middle of the night, and accept your inner voice, the private thoughts you think, and the swirling chaos within you, you have won half the battle.
There have been times in my life where I met sheer terror through life events. In the beginning for first couple of days, the only thing I could do was sleep 3-4 hours as my life spinned out of control. The remaining waking hours were spent with heart palpitations, talking to friends trying to sort out what was going on and how I felt about everything, and vague plans for how I could fix the situation. Sometimes there was no solution. The only solution was to live with the new reality that I didn’t want to face.
Whenever I feel life couldn’t get any worse, I wallow in whatever it is I’m feeling. I’m the type that tries to get everything out of my system all at once to get it over with. If I’m sad, I’ll cry as much as I want as often as I want. Maybe it will be for 3 days, it might last 2 weeks. The point is, whatever I’m feeling, I know if I can just get through that emotion, I can find the healing place sooner. If I’m angry, I think about all the reasons why I’m angry. I read, I make lists, I solidify my arguments. My goal is to acknowledge my feelings as strongly and deeply as I can to use them as step stones to finding peace again. If I’m not hungry, maybe I’ll only eat once a day. If I’m tired, maybe I’ll sleep more as long as I’m taking care of everything that needs to be taken care of. Do what you have to in that hour to get to the next hour and to get through the day. As long as you are not being self destructive, you are doing okay.
And that’s the key, what is it that you do to relieve your stress and anxiety in a healthy way while facing your obstacles? Is it to exercise, socialize, read, or help others? Cultivate activities or minor distractions to preserve your mental and emotional state from unraveling further. Those are your strongest assets to moving on. There is nothing more precious and valuable than human capital - thinking, feeling, and reacting well during life’s most difficult moments. Learn to live with the decisions you make because only you can live your life; no one can live your life for you.