Some days feel as though I’m standing at the ocean’s edge where the ground is solid until the next wave comes in and chisels away the sand around my feet. Then, I’m unsteady and off-balance. The earth below me washing away, changing into something new. If I stay here, in this precarious spot, another larger wave will come in and knock me over in the tide.
But of course, I don’t just stand there. I take just one, baby step and that step moves me onto solid ground again, at least until the next wave.
Life can be like this. Sending waves of opportunities and challenges our direction. Both – even the good stuff like a new baby or marriage or new job– can leave us a little unsteady, uncertain as we learn our way and move to more solid ground.
We can freak out about it all. The pain and uncertainty and challenge and change. Or we can move with the surf. Learn from it.
I used to be the freaker-outer. Not so much anymore. Sure things get to me, but I’ve learned that it’s better to move with the current than flail around in the tide. Stress and upset draw too much energy from me. So, when I feel myself being sucked in by it, I return to three practices that help me regain balance.
Do Accept. People get all fired up about this one because they think acceptance is endorsement. It is not. I accept my arthritis. Don’t like it, but I’ve got it so I accept that it will be part of my experience. Acceptance is to see what is in this moment without judgment. This is a relief, because we don’t have to do anything. We don’t have to have an opinion. Acceptance is the place between resistance — the fight of it — and action. It allows us to see our circumstances realistically. It’s only when we fully accept our circumstances that we can identify the next inspired action that will help us through it.
Get Curious. Curiosity is a game-changer for me. I find it’s nearly impossible to be upset when I’m curious about something. Last week I got some disappointing news about work. I began to stew and worry and ruminate. Until I got curious. Instead of worrying then, curiosity got me wondering — What now? What can I learn from the situation? Who will I meet? What will I do? — and that transformed the moment of upset into positive action. It doesn’t eliminate pain or disappointment but it gets you moving through it.
Create Now. Once you are engaged and curious, you also become more creative and THAT makes you a better problem solver. Creativity isn’t just for the Monet’s of the world, it’s for the mothers who are juggling work and household responsibilities, and couples dealing with challenges in a marriage, and those who are managing the bills and the business. All of those things require creativity. Good news is we are all creative. You can always figure something out. Rework a situation. Rewrite your story. Learn something new. Do something different.
When you can pause in your stress long enough to take a breath, accept the circumstances, and began to explore and create new possibilities, you are actively moving through pain and challenge. The difficulty moves into something a little more positive, and becomes a little easier to live with. And then you are too busy moving through the stress and uncertainty to worry about it.