So, your life feels like a country and western song. Life can be like that sometimes. You may wake up every day wondering what will go wrong today. It may be hard to imagine right now, but we’ve all gone through times in our life when it feels like everything’s falling apart. When it happens, it is challenging to see the good in anything. It feels impossible to move forward, to believe your life will ever make sense, or to trust you will be happy again.
Life is a journey, and during every journey, there are ups and downs, rough roads, and smooth sailing. Even though life is a journey is a cliche, it is true! None of us end up where we thought we would. We start out with plans to go in one direction, but there are forks in the road, detours, and dead ends that we encounter. What should you do when you feel like you have taken the wrong path at the fork in the road and on a detour, you run into a dead end? That is what you will discover in this eBook. There are ways that we can learn from life and move on to be happier than we ever imagined, even if that doesn’t seem possible now, so keep reading.
Why is this happening to me? I’m a good person! What did I do to deserve this? The truth is, all of us get comfortable with what works at a given time in our lives. Sometimes it takes the Universe kicking us in the pants to make a change – when our lives fall apart, we are forced to make changes. The Universe isn’t trying to harm us, in fact, just the opposite. It does this because it knows what is best for us on a soul level. If we are too cozy in our comfort zone and don’t recognize the signs we are getting from the Universe, it eventually takes action to make things happen for us.
A transition is really what all this is. Not knowing what is going to happen next is scary! However, it also gives us the courage to take risks that we might not have had previously. Once that comfort zone is gone, we can face our fears and grow. If we do this and do not just rush right back into another situation – any situation – to feel comfortable again, we will find what really makes us happy!
What serves us at one stage in our life won’t always serve us. We outgrow things, people, and situations. We are here in this lifetime to evolve, which by its very definition means we must change and transition into new stages in our life. It is not comfortable, but it ultimately leads us to greater peace and appreciation of who we truly are.
Our society focuses a great deal on the external. You can’t go to a party without being asked about what you do for a living, where you live, or who you are in a relationship with. But these things are only the outward trappings of our lives. They feel like our reality, but they are only here for a time before they need to be traded in for something else. The aim during this time of transition should be to take this opportunity, even though it is hard, to figure out what it really is that will make us happy and then take action to make it happen.
Will I Be Ok?
Yes, you will. Promise. It doesn’t feel like it now, but a whole new world of possibilities is about to open up to you once you can shed the old stuff that has been holding you back from seeing all that you can be.
Maybe you are still in the phase where you don’t care about what you can learn from this situation – you only want the pain to stop. Understood. However, it is important to recognize that once the initial grieving is over, you will see that something good can come from the loss that you now feel you will never get over.
What you can learn:
- You know what doesn’t work for you
- You eventually feel lighter
- You’ve learned what is really important
- You have been at the bottom and have less fear about things that were holding you back before
- You have the impetus to change
- You don’t have to be the strong one all the time
- You don’t have to be perfect to be loved
- You have true friends
- You can feel free by letting go, by surrendering
- You can release the fears that have kept you safely stagnant
If you will open up your heart and learn these important lessons in spite of the pain or fear, they are the lessons that will lead you to the better life you want deep down inside.
What Can I Do?
There are many types of transitions – job, relationship, financial, health, etc. But no matter what we are transitioning out of, there are six stages that people go through when there are dramatic changes going on in their lives. These stages are grief, doubt, despair, perception, comprehension, and assimilation.
You need to allow yourself to go through the first three, even though they don’t sound like any fun at all. Skipping those and trying desperately to get back to what you once had will only prolong the changes that need to occur so that you can be happy and at peace.
When we think of grief, we think of death. But when we lose someone we love isn’t the only time we experience grief in our lives. Anytime we lose something meaningful to us, we grieve and we should! Allow yourself to grieve for what was before you do anything else. As you go through this process, you will begin to release old thinking, old patterns, old assumptions, and maybe even old relationships. You need to let go of those things before you can fully embrace the new.
Change is rarely, if ever, comfortable, and often it is downright painful. Yet the only thing we can count on in this life is that change will happen. We can’t stop change and in fact, we should want to (although we usually don’t). So what can we do to get our lives back on track – though on a different track than we were on before – and stop feeling so awful all the time? The list below includes tips and techniques that work, no matter how our lives have fallen apart. No matter what you are facing, working through these will help you get to the other side, to a better life than you can imagine right now.
In the Beginning
Accept that this is life right now – Accepting that it is what it is, doesn’t mean that you have to like it or that it’s sufficient. But until you can accept this is where you are, you can’t start to let go of what you have been clinging to that is holding you back. And if you can’t do that, you can’t move out of this place of transition into a new, better life.
Feel the pain of the loss – Allow yourself to feel the pain, but do it without going into the story surrounding what happened or what you are scared of. For example, when you feel the sensation of fear or grief come up, notice where it happens in your body. Cry, scream, punch your pillow. Then the thought will start. You will start to tell yourself a story, I can’t live without him because… or Why did this happen to me? I’m being punished for… or I’m going to end up homeless now because…. These are the stories or thoughts you want to stop when you notice them playing through your mind (and they will!)
When they do, recognize them for what they are – only thoughts – and go back to feeling.
Feel the physical sensations of the pain. Lean into or embrace the loss you feel. This is part of the acceptance of what your life is now. Your first instinct will probably be to resist the pain, to make it go away somehow. But that only causes it to grow stronger. You must experience the loss and grieve before you can fully move on to the wonderful life that awaits you.
Take extra good care of yourself – Now is not the time to put yourself out there and take on more work. You need time to experience your feelings. If that means that you need to take a few days of vacation time or sleep more than usual, then do it. If you can afford it, get a massage or go to a spa. Do what makes you feel as safe and cozy as possible. You feel vulnerable now, which is totally understandable. It won’t always be like this, but for now, cut yourself the slack you need and give your mind, body, and spirit what it needs to recoup.
Focus on the present moment – This goes along with the stories our minds like to create around the emotions we have. As much as possible, catch yourself living in the past, through how perfect life used to be, and living in the future, worrying about all the ways your life could never be good again. The past and the future are only mental constructions. They don’t really exist. Only the here and now exist. Sometimes all you can do is take one breath. Take one step. And then the next. And then the next. This kind of living is actually very freeing and gives you a place of solace from your constant thoughts about the past and present.
Do one day at a time – You may feel that life isn’t worth living and that for all intents and purposes, your life is over. Instead of thinking about how you are going to live the rest of your life, focus only on doing what you can do today. For example, just for today, you will get out of bed and get dressed. Just for today, you will eat healthy food that nourishes your body and mind. There is absolutely no need for making big decisions right now. In fact, when you feel this vulnerable, you shouldn’t make big decisions. Just focusing on one day at a time is enough for now.
Do only what is absolutely necessary – In the beginning phase of your life-altering situation, don’t take on anything that isn’t necessary. Go to work, eat, sleep and whatever else is required today but nothing else. It is okay to retreat from the world for a while and explore your inner experience. Say no to any activity or responsibility that doesn’t make you excited to get started. Say no to any obligations you don’t want to attend to and don’t allow anyone to bully you into feeling guilty for lowering your expectations of yourself for a while. You need this space and time to heal and grow.
Remember that nothing lasts forever – This can be a challenge to believe when it feels like nothing good will ever happen to you again. It is true all the same. Everything in life is impermanent – the good things and the bad. The transition isn’t comfortable, but you will feel happy again. In fact, you may find that you end up feeling happier than ever once you start to see the amazing possibilities now available to you.
Let go of the judgment and self-blame – Yes, this is a doozy, but it can be done. Judging others and blaming ourselves for the way things worked out are part of the stories that we tell ourselves. You may feel that you made a bad decision that ended up wrecking everything. Or you may blame another person involved but ultimately, there is nothing to be gained by wallowing in these thoughts and feelings. Remember, everything happens for a reason. You made the best choices you could at the time. It is what it is, and now is the time to let go of blame and judgment so that you can move out of suffering and into a bliss-filled life.
Find refuge – Refuge means many different things to different people. What is your solace? It might be a friend, spiritual belief system, or chocolate chunk ice cream. It might be attending a support group or therapy. It can be anything that helps you live in this current moment and makes you feel safe and loved. There is no right answer, as long as it is a healthy way to deal with the fact that you are unsure about what your future will be like. Of course, ice cream isn’t healthy, but it is better than some other things you could lean on short-term.
Ask for help – This is probably not going to be easy or comfortable at first. We are inclined to pretend everything is perfect, not wanting others to realize what a mess our lives are in. Did you know that everyone else does that too? Believe it or not, we have all been there, and most of us would be happy to help our friends through a rocky patch, or even when the sky is falling. Asking for help not only will get you the help and support you need but will also show you who truly loves you. You will start to see all the kindness and beauty there is in the world.
Be grateful – You may be thinking right now that you have nothing to be grateful for. It can seem that way, but when you drill down, you’ll see that you do. You are breathing. It is a beautiful, sunny day. Your pet is happy to see you when you come home. You have food to eat today. You have the ability to take a long, hot bath. You don’t have to come up with huge things. In truth, the simple, small things in life are often the best things in life and the things we can be grateful for. Before you get out of bed in the morning and before falling asleep at night are perfect times for thinking about what you are grateful for. Gratitude keeps your heart open to the beauty in life, even in our darkest moments. Out of gratitude grows the grace we need to face an uncertain future.
Journal – Getting your thoughts and feelings out on paper is unbelievably cathartic and healing! Did you know that when we only think things, we deal with them on an emotional level, but when we write them down, we can deal with them logically? It’s true. Somehow the emotional sting is lessened by writing it down. Let yourself just write, with no purpose other than to get it all out of your head and onto paper. No one will ever see it but you. If you worry about that, burn the pages right after so there is no evidence. Just free-write each time it comes to mind until you have nothing left to say. It is truly amazing how much you can work through by simply starting to write.
Let go of what you can’t control – The truth is, we believe we have control over much more than we really do. We can’t make someone else change, for example, though we often try. We can’t go back to what we had before; we must move forward. Struggling to gain control usually gives us the opposite – more struggling. You can do everything possible to get hired for a job you are highly qualified for, but you can’t make the company hire you. Practice letting go of what you can’t control and trust that the perfect situation is coming to you and will arrive at the perfect time.
Surrender – Much of our lives we spend struggling. We struggle to be perfect, do more, and be more. Struggle doesn’t work, but it’s what we know. So, when our world is falling apart, we struggle against it. We rage against our circumstances. We shake our fists at the sky. Do all of that if you must, but then, surrender. You feel so much liberation and relief in surrendering that you won’t believe it could be that simple. Once you surrender to what is, the Universe can help you build your best life! In other words, the longer you struggle, the longer the transition process will take.
After Some of the Dust Has Cleared
In the stages of transitions that we discussed earlier, there is a point when things start to turn around. We start to feel hopeful, even though everything is not perfectly rosy in our gardens. When you feel strong enough to realize there is life after, start focusing on this list of techniques.
Decide what you really want – The Universe wants us to have exactly what we want and need to be happy. Everyone is different, but the Universe will wait to get the details of what you want from you. You may want to pull out your journal and review it. Then write down what you really want, being as specific as you can be. Keep a running list – this will be a living document that can always be altered.
Dream big. Right now, you have little to lose, so start considering how what you’ve always wanted to do is now possible.
Do something creative – While it is important to consider your goals, beliefs, and assumptions, it is equally important to get out of that head space consistently and move into a heart space. We do this when we do something creative. Instead of thinking logically (and often round and round) we can enjoy the non-thinking time of creating something beautiful. It doesn’t matter what it is. Take a class or pull out those watercolor paints you have been meaning to start using again and let yourself create. Getting out of your head for a while will make things clearer when you do start considering what you should do next.
Trust your intuition – We all have an intuition, though some of us have developed it more than others. It is that small, still voice that will guide us to our bliss if we are willing to listen. There is no better time to start than now. Your intuition is a way the Universe speaks to us to guide us through tough times and opens our eyes to the amazing prospects before us. It helps us make the best decisions for our lives. It leads us to what will make us truly happy.
Move your body – It may be the last thing you want to do, but getting a bit of exercise will do you the world of good. Moving your body releases feel-good hormones, which can help you feel more optimistic so that you can make wiser decisions about your future. Thereâ€™s no need to go to the gym and work out like someone training for a triathlon. Taking a brisk walk or a few laps at the pool will do the trick. This is one of the ways you can be extra nurturing to yourself during this challenging time.
Go outside – Being in nature is nurturing to our souls. When we are surrounded by the beauty that is nature, it is easier for us to believe that a benevolent Universe is watching over us and caring for us. Plus, the Vitamin D we get from the sunshine supports our immune system, which is especially important right now.
Begin a meditation practice – Meditation has long been used to practice being one with the present moment and embracing our feelings. It is a beautiful way to treat yourself lovingly. You can go inside and develop an equanimity that precludes any peace you’ve ever felt. Meditation is all about just being with whatever you are thinking and feeling, without judgment. It is a safe place where you can explore your deeper beliefs and investigate your inner experience, no matter what is happening in your life. It will serve you well at all times of your life.
Reevaluate your goals – When you go through a sudden and unwelcome transition in your life, it’s a sure sign that something needs to change. Sometimes that something is a major part of you – your thoughts, dreams, beliefs, or assumptions. For example, perhaps you’ve been in a dead-end job and unfulfilling relationship for years but were convinced that it was the best you deserved. Maybe you had a big dream, but wouldn’t let yourself believe that it could ever be anything more than a dream. Well, now is the time to reevaluate your assumptions and set totally new goals for yourself. You have a chance to recreate your life, so now is the time to set your sights on something you’ve always really wanted!
Slow down – Western culture has an addiction that is rarely talked about. It is an addiction to speed. When things start to go wrong, our first instinct is often to speed up, do more, and work harder. All of this doing keeps our brains numb so that we don’t have time to think about all the ways our lives could be better. Now is the time to stop the struggle and slow down. Take it easy. Let your mind consider all the things you were trying to block out before. You aren’t going to lose out on anything just because you take some time out of the rat race to experience your feelings and investigate your thoughts.
Start setting an intention – Setting an intention is easy to do and really guides your day. They help you stay focused on the steps you need to take and the good things in your life instead of staying stuck in the “my life sucks” mentality. Many people like to set an intention for the day before they get out of bed in the morning. This is a great way to start your day off on the right foot. In the beginning, you may set smaller intentions that just help you get through the day, like staying dry-eyed at work. As you progress through the transition phases, you can change these to help propel you along.
Surround yourself with positive people – Have you ever noticed how hard it is to stay positive when you are with someone negative for a while? What you need right now is a fun-loving group of friends who will support you no matter where you are in your life. Distancing yourself from non-supportive, negative people right now is vital to your mental health, so don’t be afraid to do it. You don’t have to cut them out of your life forever, but you do need to make sure that during the time you are with other people, they are open and loving. This sentiment holds true for social media too! If there are friends on Facebook who always post negative, judgmental memes and comments, hide them for a while so that you don’t see their updates on your page. Do what you need to do to care for yourself right now.
Take charge of what is in your control – While there are definitely things in our lives that we don’t have control over, there are things that we do. Let go of trying to control what you can’t (like what people are thinking about you) and take responsibility for what you can control. You don’t have to figure it all out today. It is fine to take baby steps while you are feeling vulnerable. But take the action necessary to start rebuilding your life.
Focus on what you do want, not what you don’t. I never want to be in a codependent relationship again could be changed to “I want a loving, trustworthy partner who loves me unconditionally.” The Universe provides us with more of what we focus our attention on. When we are focused on what we don’t want, we just end up getting more of the same. Start to change your focus onto what you do want so that you can inform the Universe what you want it to manifest in your life.
Questions your unconscious beliefs – We all have underlying beliefs about ourselves and our world that we aren’t aware of on a conscious level. They may stem from things we were told or shown as children or from life experiences we’ve had along the way. Some common ones are, You have to know the right person to get ahead in business, No one really loves unconditionally, I’m not smart enough to do ____, and Money is the root of all evil. Does any of those sound familiar? We don’t usually go around saying stuff like that, but deep down, those unquestioned beliefs are impacting our lives and the decisions we make. Spend some time recognizing what your unconscious limiting beliefs are. Discover what your personal emotional blocks are. Once you get them out in the open (to yourself) you can question them and replace them with beliefs that are true and empowering.
Take action – After being so vulnerable and tender from feelings of losing everything, it can be hard to get back on that horse. No one is suggesting you shouldn’t feel scared about getting out there again. Some people always stay stuck in their lives because they allow their fear to control them. They never reach for what they really want because they are scared to fail. It is okay to be scared. But take action anyway. Each little step you take to rebuild your life will make you stronger and less fearful.
Find ways to give – Getting the focus off yourself by helping others is one of the best ways to take action and gain perspective on how bad your life really is. You may want to volunteer, for example, at a women’s abuse shelter if you have gotten out of one yourself. It feels amazing to give of ourselves. It is empowering to help empower others. Practice random acts of kindness, volunteer your time for something that is important to you and help a friend or a stranger. It doesn’t matter exactly what it is. When we are always only stuck in our own heads, it is easy to lose perspective. Once we start giving back, we might just start to see that we aren’t as badly off as we thought we were.
Don’t wait to be happy – You can choose to be happy now. You don’t have to wait until you replace the partner, income, or job you lost. You can choose to be happy, even when things aren’t perfect. Because they will never be perfect. That is just not the way life works. Everyone has problems – don’t believe that they don’t by what they show on the outside. Those people you know who are happy have chosen to be, in spite of their difficulties. Start taking notice of the way you are looking at things. How could you choose to be happy in spite of them?
Choose your attitude – Attitude is everything, even in your current situation. Once you’ve done the grieving and you are feeling stronger, decide how you are going to handle what you are faced with. You can stay stuck in no man’s land wallowing in self-pity or you can be determined to learn the lessons the Universe is offering you.
Remember that everything happens for a reason – Right now you probably have no idea why it happened. But if you take steps to move on and make changes in your life, you will be able to say, If ______ had never happened, I wouldn’t have ______ now. Once you release the baggage that was holding you back from living your best life, you’ll finally discover how awesome life can be.
Play out the worst-case scenario – This suggestion might sound counterintuitive, but it works. Why? Because we are great at imagining all types of horrors once our minds get on a roll. Our fear gets us in a panic and we start what if-ing. When we really, truly take a look at what the worst-case scenario could be, it’s usually not as bad as we think it is. It’s still not going to be what we want to happen, but by stripping away the emotions buzzing all around it and working up the courage to look it straight in the face, we can much more easily face our biggest fears.
Recognize what is no longer serving you – We humans tend to hang onto things way past their sell-by date. Somewhere deep inside we know that job, relationship, whatever, isn’t working for us anymore, but we hang onto it because… well, what if nothing better comes along. Isn’t it better to have a crappy job than none? Isn’t it better to have someone than to be alone? When we keep hanging onto things that no longer serve us, we stay stuck, which is when the Universe is often obliged to step in and make changes happen. Start paying more attention to those things in your life that are no longer making you happy. When you recognize them, it is time to take action to change them.
Don’t rush in – You don’t want to take any old action. You don’t want just a job or just a relationship. You want one that will make you feel blessed every day. You want the right job or relationship or situation – that is what the Universe has been trying to tell you – that there is something much better for you waiting for you to take action on. But you’ll never do that until you are moved out of your comfort zone. And if you don’t do that voluntarily, It will still move you along. Look at all the options before taking action.
Realize that your thoughts are only thoughts – Thoughts can feel real, all right, but they aren’t. They aren’t truths. They aren’t real. They are mental formations you can choose to believe or not, immerse yourself into, or not. When you find yourself getting swept off by your thoughts, when they are building up to dramatic proportions, come back to feelings. Come back to the sensation of being alive in your body. Come back to the present moment. Thoughts only have power if you chose to continue to entertain them, so take them off the guest list.
Find a support system to help you grow – At some point, you will be ready to start rebuilding your new, shiny life. That is the time to seek out those places, people, and things that can support your personal growth. You may find classes, a life coach, books, a mentor or a therapist is just what you need to help you discover the possibilities now available to you and begin to learn new things.
Set small goals – When you start feeling like you have gained perspective and are starting to perceive the possibility of a bright future, start setting small goals. And not a lot at once. When you stop feeling so overwhelmed by negative emotions, you might have the urge to make big changes immediately, setting many large goals for yourself. Instead, continue to treat yourself kindly and take baby steps to a better life. You don’t need to do everything at once. Decide what the most important one or two tasks are that need to be completed and work on those first.
Be aware of your perception – What makes up our reality is really just our perception of a given situation. At some point in this transition process, you need to get to a place where your perception is positive. You want to arrive at a place where you see possibilities instead of dead ends. Yes, your life isn’t the same anymore, but is that really a bad thing? Think back to all the things you would like to have changed, and then make it happen. Grieve, yes. Allow yourself the time and space you need to heal and question your beliefs about yourself and your world. But then move out into the sunshine and look for ways that you can change your life for the better now that you are no longer encumbered.
Accept that it is going to take time – You probably lived years in that comfort zone life you once had. It is going to take a while to get to a place where the changes necessary feel like an adventure rather than a burden. Give yourself that time. The last thing you want to do is rush the process, skipping steps to recovery. If you do that, you’ll end up right back where you started.
You know someone who has done just that. Rushed right back into the fray, into the same job, relationship, bad habits, or whatever that put them in the difficult, life-altering situation to begin with. They weren’t willing to take the time to work through their limiting beliefs or to take self-care seriously. Don’t be that person! Learn the lessons you were meant to learn so that you don’t have to go through it all over again.
Look for inspiration – You might not feel ready to do this until you have moved through some of the pain and grief, and that is fine. Once you are ready, start looking for inspiring stories of people who went through it and made it out to the other side. You can find stories on the Internet, in an online forum, in a support group, or in books. Hope, as they say, springs eternal, and what you need is a bit of hope that you really will be happy again.
Understand this – We humans believe, for some reason, that we should always have everything all figured out. That logic rules and if we think smart enough, work hard enough, and are perfect enough, we will have our stuff together and everything will turn out great. But that is not how life is meant to work. We are here to learn lessons, and some of those lessons require us to have no idea where we are going, much less how to get there. And that’s okay.
Being okay with not knowing isn’t comfortable most of the time. But when we are in the in-between phase of life, we are able to gain a perspective that is usually hidden from us. We realize that no one really has it all together. No one’s life is really perfect. We all just show the best to the outside world. Life is never a for sure thing. In the blink of an eye, the most perfect, wonderful person you know can lose it all. Nothing is permanent. That might sound super scary. But it’s also liberating. While you are in this state of not-knowing, you have the opportunity to see a world of possibilities that you weren’t able to see inside your comfort zone.
Life is full of change. When lots of changes happen all at once, it can feel like your whole life is falling apart! Hopefully, you find comfort in the fact that it happens to all of us at one time or another… and we all make it through to the other side.
Now that you look back, you may see the subtle (and not-so-subtle) signs the Universe was giving you that you needed to make a change. It may not feel like it right at this moment, but the Universe knows what is best for us and is always guiding us toward our bliss. When we don’t take the hints It gives us, it has to shake us up and force us out of our comfort zone.
The important thing to remember in all of this is that the Universe always has our back and that everything is impermanent. The fear and loss you feel now won’t last forever. In fact, many people who go through a huge transition later say it was the best thing that could have ever happened to them. That once they let go of the soul-killing job, co-dependent relationship, etc. they were able to make the changes in their thoughts, words, and actions, in other words, in their lives, that lead them directly to exciting, new possibilities that would have never been possible in their old life.
So, take hope! You will be happy and fulfilled again. Give it time and use the tips and techniques outlined here to reduce your suffering and open yourself up to the multitude of blessings coming your way!
None of these tips should be a one-time thing. You will need to continue to practice gratitude and letting go, for example. One journal entry is not going to solve all your problems. Transitions take time; there is no one fix that will make your world bright again. Instead, you must learn the lessons and grow in your new life.