What to do when a life disaster strikes – not taking about losing your cell phone or locking your keys in the car. I'm talking major disaster – like finding out your husband is a serial womanizer or learning your baby has a degenerative disease, or losing a loved one too soon to cancer. I mean the things that rock your world to the foundation and if you do not recover no one would judge.
One of the things that makes me a good coach is my life experiences. Luckily I have not had to experience every example Iave above but I have had to experience some of them and I have been able to come out the other side in a good and healthy way. So here are some things that if you're not doing it may be helpful.
– Go into protection mode by shutting out the outside world (not those you need to support you). This is also called setting new boundaries. You need to eliminate all extras from your life. You need to reserve all your time, energy and financial resources to deal with your disaster and take care of yourself and your family.
– Set your emotion aside and look at your options. It may be true that no one would judge if you crawled into your bed and did not come out for a month or if you smashed all the windows but that is not going to get your kids fed, care for your sick or give you your last moments with your loved one. So get your head out of the sand, ask for the help you need from those who can give it and do what needs to be done.
– Just say NO. You have bigger problems to worry about than running the PTO fundraiser or donating your time or money to that wonderful charity. When a disaster hits and you did not see it coming you need to turn inward, take stock of where you are at and what you need instead of running all over for everyone else. So when you are asked to do it just say "I wish I could but I am just completely overwhelmed right now with all I have going on and I just can not handle taking on anything else at this time." This clearly states you are unable to handle the responsibility right now and leaves it open for the future when you may be better equipped to help while not giving out the gory details of your life disaster.
– Speak out to those who can support you in a positive way. Support groups are great but not if you feel more depressed or defeated then before you walked through the door. If going out with your girlfriends gives you the space to purge your emotionals then that's great but if you find yourself feeling more lonely or desperate then make a different choice. Pay attention to how you feel inside and do what brings true relief.
– Ask for help from those who can give it. Asking your sister to support you while you both are watching your father succumb to cancer is only setting yourself up for disappointment since she is probably as devastated, tired and overwhelmed as you are even if she expresses it differently. You need to move outside that circle to those who have the energy and time to give you what you need.
– Do not run away from the situation or the emotions since they will always find you. Taking a break to rejuvenate is smart and needed. Spending your evenings drowning your pain and fear in a bottle of wine is a waste since it does not improve the situation at all and you feel worse in the morning, less able or ready to deal with your situation. Fear of being overwhelmed by our emotions is usually what makes us run away from any situation.
– Dive in – yes, I am serious. If you are overcome by hurt, fear, sadness- any negative emotion, the most effective but little known way to deal is to close your eyes, notice where you feel the emotion in your body then bring your awareness right into the core where it feels the most intense. It is scary at first but soon you'll notice that you are ok. The deeper into the core of intensity you go, the more it looks to lessen. Do not stop there – keep diving into the core until it is completely gone. Take a deep breath and drink a glass of water.
These steps have helped me many times over the years deal with a list of situations. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to be present for your life even if it is hard. And getting good at effectively feeling your emotions is one of the most useful things you can learn to do as it frees you to focus on what needs to be done and to do it. Being present during the months and last moments of my father's illness was a gift as was having the presence of mind to do what needed to be done when I learned of my husband's secret life while pregnant with our second child.
If you are going through a life disaster of your own and need someone on your side who knows what to do, contact Kate@askcoachkate.com .