Ever had life blow up on you? Perhaps you're going through a breakup and then you get laid off. Or your job is all wrong for you but you can't find a new one and then you get sick. Or you get sober and realize your life is a mess.
When life crashes, it's easy to feel stuck, anxious and angry. Maybe we blame ourselves for our choices, thinking we should have known better.
Stop right there. Self-blame and judgment only make it worse.
We all make the best choices we can with the information available at the time. When you reflect on self-destructive choices, ask yourself: what were you trying to avoid? You were probably trying to save yourself from something you weren't strong enough to face yet.
While that decision may not have worked out as you would have liked, there are several benefits. You now know what doesn't work for you, and you've probably learned more about what is truly important to you. Another benefit of being in a tough spot is that it can inspire you to change. When your life implodes, you know that something must shift, life cannot go on as it was. This gives you the freedom to explore things you may not have had the courage to do before.
So what do you do? You start by building your foundation.
Give yourself permission to go slowly and do it right because a good foundation will support you for life. You may not see immediate changes but this will set you up for very powerful and positive shifts when the time is right. My clients are amazed when they meet their partner or get their dream job after focusing on themselves, but that's often the way it works. Think of it as investing in you.
To build yourself a strong foundation, consider these four things:
1. What do you need to do to support yourself?
Consider your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. What needs the most help right now? Focus on that first. For example, you may need to heal, to change your lifestyle, or to trust yourself or to develop a spiritual connection.
2. How much do the people and things around you affect you?
If you keep getting drained by external events, develop stronger boundaries to protect you. If it seems like nothing touches you and you are shut down, get curious about your internal reactions.
3. What do you need to let go of that is no longer serving you?
Coming from a situation that was not working, you may have developed behaviors, thought patterns, relationships or communities that no longer reflect who you want to be. I call these "drag." Let go of them. For patterns that are tough to change, I recommend writing out what they cost you and then praying to release them.
4. How can you create a supportive context?
Immerse yourself in what you want via books, classes, communities and (if possible) a private coach or a therapist. These keep you going and set you up for success when you face the inevitable bumps in the road. You may find that a book works best in some areas, while you need one-on-one support in others.
You may have noticed that two big things are missing from this list of how to build your foundation: relationships and career. This is intentional. Committing to another person or job before you know the new you is tricky. Beware of taking on too much at once as it can lead to overwhelm and frustration. Remember: a house is built brick by brick. Start with you.