When life takes an unexpected turn for the worst, it's easy to feel angry or blame yourself for what's going on.
Self-blame and judgment have a habit of making problems worse, so try your best to steer clear of them. Instead, consider the fact that we all make the best choices we can with the information available to us at the time. So when you reflect on your choices, ask yourself: What was I trying to avoid?
You were probably trying to react to something you weren't ready to address yet. While that decision may not have worked out as you would have liked, it might actually have led to some good things. For example, 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 and explore things you may not have had the courage to before.
So if life isn't going your way, try to reframe your mindset to see how it can be an opportunity to build a new foundation. Give yourself permission to go slowly and do it right because a good foundation will support you for life. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you go:
1. What do you need to do to support yourself?
Consider your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. What feels like it could use the most help right now? Focus on that first. For example, you may need to work on changing your lifestyle to be less draining, trusting yourself, or developing a spiritual connection.
2. How much do the people and things around you affect you?
3. What do you need to let go of that is no longer serving you?
After emerging from a difficult situation, you may be left with behaviors, thought patterns, and relationships that no longer serve you or reflect who you want to be. Those are not invited to your new foundation and must be released. Journal about what they cost you, and then conduct a visualization exercise to let them go.
4. How can you create a supportive context?
Immerse yourself in books, classes, communities, and (if possible) a trained therapist that can guide you toward what you want to call into your new foundation. These resources will keep you going and set you up for success when you face the inevitable bumps in the road in the future. You may find that a book works best in some areas, while you need one-on-one support in others.
Two major things are missing from this list: relationships and career. This is intentional! Committing to another person or job before you know the new you can be overwhelming, so beware of taking on too much at once. Remember: A house is built brick by brick. Start with you.
Adelma Lilliston helps women create careers and lives that fit who they really are. Before training as a life coach, Adelma spent 15 years in research and management in both corporations and non-profits. She holds an MBA from Yale and a BA from Barnard.