A life crisis can be a blessing in disguise because it forces us to respond to what we really need in our lives. It gets us down to the root of who we really are. The crisis allows us to let go of our old life and to create a new one that can be more fulfilling. Yet we resist the change because it forces us to challenge our definition of who we have always been. We need to let go. But we resist letting go because we feel the need to hold on to the illusion of control.
We must let go of those parts of our lives that are no longer appropriate for us to hold on to. They no longer work for us. But we can hold on to those things that we truly need and that will define who we want to be in the future.
Some Practical Steps for Getting Through a Life Crisis:
- Live in the Moment- A life crisis might feel like a permanent condition- a painful and lost existence. Take one step at a time as you go through each day. Try not to focus on the past, which can’t be changed, and let the future unfold, as it will. For now, stay in the present and get your bearings. When your world is in turmoil, it is normal to feel confused. Your old tools for survival may not work any longer, and it is time to explore new ways of dealing with everyday problems.
- Find Support in Other People– It’s difficult to endure a crisis alone. Identify your crisis (divorce, grieving, financial loss, a medical issue, etc.) and find other people who have been through a similar crisis. Try not to isolate and work this through by yourself, although this might seem like the most comfortable option. A therapist is trained to help you in a confidential and professional way. A support group of people who have been through a similar experience can understand and accept your feelings. Find a trusted mentor who can help guide you through this period of confusion with practical advice.
- Draw On Your Full Range of Strengths– Try to find a good balance between the various components of your personality- your ability to think, your emotions, your intuition, and your spiritual self. You may feel more comfortable as a thinker- but understand that this is limiting. A person cannot usually think their way through a life crisis. You also need your ability to feel, and sometimes your gut feelings give you the best course of action. A crisis is a time of growth and adapting to new situations, and for this tremendous challenge you need to use your whole self.
- Define Your Goals– You may feel that your life is in disarray, so it helps to give yourself some direction. Set up a series of goals that you can easily achieve. When they are achieved, you will sense a feeling of success. These goals will constantly change as you wind your way through the crisis. For example, Monday will be the day to go to the grocery store alone. Tuesday you’ll call a therapist. Wednesday you’ll go to the gym or take a long walk. Later on your goals will be loftier- like going on a weekend trip with a new friend, arranging a party at your house, or starting a new job.
- Take Care of Business– Your life may be in crisis, but it must go on nevertheless. Pay your bills on time. Go to the doctor and dentist. Do your laundry. Bathe every day. Take your dog for a walk daily. Keep your house clean. Water the plants. These activities give you structure and serve as a good counterbalance to the chaos that characterizes life crisis.
- Nurture Yourself– The world may seem cruel when you are in crisis. Find at least one thing that you really enjoy doing- and then do it. Give yourself some pleasurable activities. Take a walk. Enjoy the sunset. Do a jigsaw puzzle. While you engage in these activities, allow yourself to have pleasant thoughts. If negative thinking comes into the picture, observe that you are getting negative, and let it go.