Grief can feel all-consuming, as though you are being buried alive. People have also observed that bad things tend to happen in clusters. You may be grieving the loss of your partner, when the furnace breaks followed by your hard drive crashing. It can feel like the Universe is pig-piling on, leading to feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
This was certainly my experience following my divorce. In addition to the financial, emotional and social adjustments that consumed my time and energy, things started to break resulting in costly repairs, which fueled my financial concerns. Then my dad got diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized. This would be a horrible blow at any time, but it felt particularly devastating at a time when I felt unable to absorb any more sadness, or face losing anyone else.
People are able to survive natural disasters such as mudslides or avalanches when they make an air pocket which allows them to breathe. This buys them precious time while they await their rescue.
How can you employ this survival tactic to create an emotional air pocket that will allow you the space to breathe as you wait for healing?
Know What You Can and Cannot Control
Consider the following.
- Separate the challenges you are dealing with into two groups – those you can control such as repairs and finances, and those you cannot, such as losing a loved one(s). For each item that you can control, give it your attention and devise an action plan to address it, thereby creating more space.
- For the challenges that you cannot control, accept that they will need to occupy some space. However, become intentional about identifying aspects of your life that are working well that also inhabit your space. These could be your personal friendships, your job, or your health. How can you foster these areas in order to counterbalance the areas that aren’t so good?
In managing what you can control, accepting what you can’t, and nourishing what is hopeful and positive, you create an air pocket through which you can breathe and reduce anxiety.
What are two to three small action steps you can take right now to manage, accept and nourish what is present in your life?