By Daina Puodziunas
Many of us reached midlife with highly developed multi-tasking skills—we figured out how to juggle many balls in the air. Then life decides to start throwing us curve balls! They come out of nowhere and can easily throw us into panic mode.
You find yourself suddenly without a job. You find out you have a chronic illness. A family member dies. Your spouse decides he wants a divorce and the list goes on. There is no way to really breeze through a crisis, but there is a way to move through it so that you actually use the crisis for your own growth and evolution instead of allowing it to use you.
If I have learned anything from the curve balls that life has thrown me it is this: It’s not what is happening that matters, but how you approach what is happening that makes all the difference in the world.
A little angel once told me that the universe likes to throw us curve balls to see what we do with them. But because it can feel so bad, we often judge what is happening as a negative event. It’s so automatic, we don’t even notice we’ve made this assumption!
As I engage with women in the midst of a variety of midlife transitions, it seems that these curve balls are coming at us faster and more frequently. We can either let life drag us down or we can rise up to the challenge and get good at utilizing curve balls to make us wiser, stronger, more creative, and more resourceful.
Last week my good friend and I were exchanging techniques for staying in the game when life and love take unexpected turns. It was an exciting and stimulating conversation. I thought I would share what we were talking about in seven easy steps.
7 Steps to Reduce Stress and Reorient in a Positive Direction:
1) Take Charge Of Your Attitude: Your attitude, orientation, or where you “come from,” is the key to learning how to dance with change. When we embrace adventure, we automatically open to new experiences with a sense of curiosity about how the world works. Many people live lives directed by habit, afraid to step beyond the familiar boundaries of their comfort zones.
This is the reason that I named the Midlife Adventure Club as I did. The attitude of adventure takes us out of our everyday lives and thrusts us into unfamiliar but ultimately novel and exciting situations. We can discover new practices and philosophies that we can incorporate into our lives.
2) Stop Wishing Things Were Different: This will only make you feel like you are striking out and can easily lead to depression. Accept what is. Stop resisting it. Everyone gets their share of hard stuff in life. It’s the resistance that is the problem, not the situation at hand. Develop your skills so you can hit whatever pitch is coming at you right out of the park!
3) See Your Situation From Multiple Viewing Points:
A ~ Think about who you admire in the world and imagine how they might view the situation.
B ~ Imagine yourself looking back on the situation a year from now. What would your advice be? What about ten years from now? How do you want to remember yourself when you look back on this time?
C ~ Take on the perspective of the other key players in the situation. How are they seeing things?
D ~ Connect with your heart and center yourself. Ask your soul to speak through your heart. What might your soul want you to see, learn, and do? How might your soul be looking at the situation?
4) Ask Yourself: What Is The Worst Thing That Can Happen? Project the worst-case scenario in your head. Then ask yourself if you could handle it. Most of the time the answer is “Sure I could, I’ve handled worse before.” This frees up an enormous amount of energy. The psyche is not in panic mode anymore.
5) Take Action To Get Grounded: So often we are resistant to taking action when we have no idea whether it’s the right action to take or when we can’t see the bigger picture, the plan. We can stay stuck trying to figure out what is happening and where we are going or we can surrender to the fact that we can’t figure things out but still move forward by taking a step even when we are not sure where it may lead.
A ~ Shift your perspective by answering: “What am I free to do now?” “How can I use what is happening to learn self-sufficiency, independence, a new skill that may take my life to the next level?”
B ~ Pema Chodron says: “Knowing that death is certain and the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?” What is the most important thing for you right now?
C ~ Understand that you can’t do an idea, a project, or a plan. You can only do the next action. So what is the next action? Often times, it is only after you have completed an action that the next one is revealed to you.
6) Implant Life~Affirming Concepts Within The Subconscious Mind To Support New Choices: Use symbols, words, affirmations, and pictures to create a vision map (a collage on poster board) of your new perspectives, choices, and answers to the above questions. Hang it by your bed and look at it for at least a few minutes in the morning as you rise and also during the evening.
7) Design A Personal Ceremony For Your Transition: A personal ceremony symbolizes a psychological, emotional, and spiritual transformation. You can create very elaborate ceremonies, but here are the nuts and bolts of the energy.
First create a sacred space (whatever that means to you.)
A ~ Write what you want to release on a peace of paper. This may be the need to control a situation, losses that you experienced, resentments and other yucky feelings, etc. Burn the piece of paper as you feel the release.
B ~ Find a symbol of what you are free to do now. Use water or incense to bless and baptize this symbol. Keep it on your personal alter or by your bedside next to your vision map.
C ~ Invite at least one other person to witness your ceremony and support you.
These seven steps can help you create a new relationship with change, challenge, and crisis.
I hope this gives you some ideas on how to reduce stress and reorient yourself in times of change and challenge. It’s all about reorienting yourself so that you are proceeding from the inside out. The difference is that you see yourself not as a victim reacting to life, but as someone learning how to show up for yourself and play full out.
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to email@example.com.