…on the highway of life.
Sometimes life throws you a wrong turn or sends you on detours with miles of road construction on the highway of life!
How do you handle it when your plans are rolling along and, out of the blue, something throws you off track? I mean… WAY off track? It’s hard enough without the detours. But when BIG detours do occur…it can seem like it’s time to give up. It all seems so disheartening, so draining, so DAMN difficult!
And I am here to tell you – YOU’RE RIGHT! It is.
I invite you to sit and acknowledge that life is … All.Of.The.Above!
You’re not broken; you’re not weak; you’re HUMAN. And life can get hard – very hard sometimes.
There will always be bumpy patches and challenges to overcome. I’m sure we can all agree on that!
And, you’ve probably heard that old saying about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off…..and I’m all for that. I’m all for adopting a mindset that keeps you going even when times get tough.
That’s not the whole story though. There’s something you can add…
To navigate those hard turns, those detours that take you completely off track, you must have that one component to save your sanity and eventually get back on track. And that element is deceptively simple, but not easy…here it is…
“Sit still and do NOTHING!”
WHAAAAT? Yes. I said sit still and do nothing! There’s a purpose to this so bear with me. Sit for 5 to 10 minutes a day. (Work up to 20- because it’s not as easy as it sounds!) It’s a form of self-compassion; a form of self-awareness. But more importantly, it’s a form of self-acknowledgment.
Let me explain.
That mindset of getting back up immediately after a challenge may sound “productive” but it ignores that fact that you are human. You are not a machine. You must acknowledge “where you are” and understand it is normal to feel the way you feel. Especially with the hard turns that come your way. Note-I didn’t say wallow in it! Once you have acknowledged and addressed, THEN you get back up, dust yourself off, and begin where you left off.
This practice is called mindfulness. It is NOT the same as meditation.
With mindfulness, you’re MINDFUL of where you are, what you feel physically and emotionally. Acknowledge it. Be aware of it. Don’t judge any of it good or bad. Just be aware.
So, here’s how you sit and do nothing: Sit. Eyes open and feel how the chair feels, what you see, smell, or hear in the moment. Nothing more. Nothing less. Be aware of your breath-but don’t breathe in any particular way. Be aware of the thoughts and feelings you are having but don’t dwell on any of them.
The idea is NOT to put yourself in a relaxed place. It’s simply to pay attention to your experience – emotional, mental, physical – right here, right now.
So why would you want to do something so boring, difficult, you might even say pointless?
- Simply by acknowledging your thoughts and feelings (this feels like @&%!, and I’ve been completely sidelined! ☹), your thoughts become calmer, and you realize they may not be as real or as dire as you imagined.
- You’ll notice how easily you caught up in unhelpful mindsets and realize that it’s possible to escape them.
- Problems don’t seem as big and unsolvable as before. Acknowledging them is the first step to finding a way to deal with them. Like a child that feels unheard, as soon as you acknowledge
The point is to learn to be more “present” and less tangled in anxiety and worry (future based) or depression (past based) of your detour. The road construction you are experiencing is a present-day issue, and you must stay in the present to get through it.
But first, a bit of self-compassion. “I acknowledge I got knocked off course. I’m feeling X, and it is perfectly okay to feel it. I am human. I send myself love and compassion and as soon as I am able, I will take small steps toward my original path.”
Mindfulness helps develop mental strength and flexibility that, when combined, produce resilience. And resilience is what gets you around the detours. Resilience, with a side of compassion, will get you back on track.
P.S. – don’t forget to smell the roses or take a great snapshot of the unexpected scenery!
What’s your best practice for getting yourself back on track after a life detour? Let me know in the comments. Join me in my free Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/virginiasstudiocats for more support, encouragement, and community.