It happens to all of us every now and then – one minute we feel like we’re on top of the world, with our lives running smoothly, and the next, it seems like everything is falling apart. Whether this feeling is based on a difficult life event, or comes on suddenly without warning, there are certain methods you can use to help you cope.
Life is full of unexpected surprises, and certain events are indeed out of our control. However, one thing that we can control – though it can be extremely difficult – is our minds. Much of the time, feeling out of control in a situation is a byproduct of not living in the present.
When our minds wander too long in the past, or get caught up anticipating the future, it can become impossible to focus on and complete the tasks that need to be done right now. Sometimes it is necessary to let thoughts of the past and future slide, and just focus on the next step at hand.
Transform your To-Do List
When you read your to-do list, do you look ahead to everything you have to do that week, or even month, and become overwhelmed by the swarm that you need to accomplish in such a short time? This can make you anxious and cripple your resolve before you even start.
Take some time one day per week, perhaps first thing Monday morning, to make a to-do list for that week. Decide which day each of your weekly tasks need to be done, and schedule them for that particular day. Obviously, you will have to adjust things and add unexpected things as the week goes on, but you will start with a good framework.
When you are done creating your list, do not stare at the tasks that are on other days, just focus on today’s tasks, in order of importance, and when you have completed them, do not look ahead. Instead, take time to relax, and feel good about what you have accomplished.
Learn from Your Experiences – Good and Bad
Life is a learning process, and we can strive each moment to make improvements. If, for example, one day you feel so swamped at work that you snap at a co-worker, you can look at this as a learning experience. After you’ve made your apologies and righted the situation, do not dwell on it; let it motivate you not to react this way in the future.
Conversely, if you experience a moment where you handled yourself very well, for example if you were able to patiently deal with a difficult client, and end up earning their trust, take a lesson from this, and apply the tactics that you used to deal with difficult people in the future.
Sometimes, we have a tendency to get so wrapped up in our own problems that it is difficult to see the world around us. Making an active choice to help someone else can in turn help us to step outside of ourselves for a while.
Assisting someone else can both brighten the other person’s day, and distract you from the issue that you were ruminating over. It can also make you feel good about the fact that you did something good for another person.
Another benefit of helping someone when you feel out of control is that when you are done, you may have either forgotten about your problem in the first place, or find that it really wasn’t as insurmountable as you had thought, once you let yourself get some distance from the issue.
Ask for Help
The popular euphemism, “no man is an island,” became popular for a reason. Human beings are naturally social creatures, and sometimes we need to reach out to others to solve problems going on in our lives. Talking to a trusted family member or friend can help you get a new perspective on the situation, and even if their advice does not turn out to be applicable, the simple act of talking it out often works wonders.
Just be sure to provide a listening ear the next time that person has a problem that they need help with – a support system is a two-way street.
The simple practice of taking a few moments each day to think about everything you are grateful for can be extremely powerful. If you find yourself in a swarm of negativity and worry, wondering how you are going to hold everything together, find a quiet spot, close your eyes, and bring to mind all of the people you love, all of the opportunities that you’ve been given, all of your good qualities, and everything positive you have achieved.
When you open your eyes again, even if you can only find time to do it for one minute, you may be surprised to realize that you feel empowered and ready to face the challenges ahead.
Especially in the middle of a busy workday, or a stressful conversation with family members, it may seem impossible to find time to meditate. However, if you are able to walk away from what you are doing for just five minutes, sit comfortably, and focus your mind entirely on the present, it can give you the tools that you need to deal with whatever it is you are facing when you return to the task at hand.
Meditation can be difficult, especially at first, as swarming thoughts certainly make themselves known, and loudly. However, with practice, meditation can become your most powerful ally in feeling in control of your mind and your life. If you would like guidance as to how to begin, many community centers and other organizations offer guided sessions, sometimes at no cost.
Google classes in your area, or give your local community center a call. If this is not an option for you, the Internet can be a valuable resource for introducing the basic skills of meditation.
Sometimes, the best way to get your mind back under your control is to realize that there are many things that you simply cannot control. If you accept this fact, actively remember to breathe, focus on now, and take things one step at a time; you can navigate your life around those uncontrollable events, to where you want it to be.
-The Alternative Daily