When Sh*% Hits the Fan: 12 Tips for Survival
Shit can hit the fan in a variety of ways: your angry bosshole impulsively fires you; your sweetheart walks out the door; you’re hit with a crushing unexpected expenditure; a project you’ve poured your soul into falls apart; you make a big mistake that you have no hope of fixing. These are just a few examples of the tumultuous boulders that the universe can hurl across your path. Sometimes, a lot of shit hits the fan at once. It seems trouble is often a package deal. Such upheavals are ultimately part of the gig of life. We’ve all been through them. But in the epicenter of the moment, shit hitting the fan is scary, bewildering and painful. The world you knew is flipped upside down. You’re on overload, unsure of anything. You doubt yourself and your ability to cope. Panic pokes a menacing finger. Despair pulls you into its clutches. Everything is scrambled. But the good news is that your tender heart is tougher than you think it is. You’re smart. Grit is in your DNA. You can ride it out and you will survive. Here are 12 suggestions that might help:
- Get simple. Rest and recover. This is the first order of business. Everything else can go back burner for a while.
- Make a mental/emotional survival plan. Jot it down in your journal. Get to the basics. Self-care is a good place to start.
- Process what happened, but don’t allow it to keep traumatizing you over and over again. Keep it in a box. Pull it out and look at it, but put a time limit on it (half an hour a day or whatever). Outside of that designated period, leave it in the box with the lid tightly shut.
- Get physical. Anxiety, stress and sadness get pent up in the body. Movement can shake out a lot of unhelpful energy.
- Go outside. When my kids were babies and would get fussy, taking them outside always seemed to calm them down. I have no clue why. Maybe it was the air, or the trees or the simple change of scene. I’ve found that the mind is a lot like a screaming baby. A short walk around the neighborhood can do wonders.
- Heal your soul. Be around people who truly love you. Surround yourself with the blessed spirits who have your back. This is where the truth is.
- When people offer to help you, believe that they mean it and let them do it. And if you need to, ask for help. I have to admit that this is one of the hardest things for me to do. I think it is for many of us, and it’s curious as to why. All the same, when you’re up against it, you need lifelines. Accept them with grace, gratitude and dignity.
- Practice mindfulness. Stay in the moment. Resist the sense of urgency to figure everything out right away. Allow the debris to settle.
- Get comfortable with vulnerability. Accept that for the time being, life hurts. Take comfort in small things: the neighbor’s dog wagging his tail at you; clean sheets; your morning coffee.
- Be selective about what you allow in your airspace. Filter out negative news and sad stories. Limit your intake of social media and the incessant chatter that comes with it. Seek out things that affirm life and bolster your optimism. You may not have the attention span for reading at present, but check out inspiring documentaries on Netflix and You Tube. Perspective is everything.
- Refocus. Reframe. Get back to the positives. Even if you’re in the middle of a shit storm or a deep heartache, there are still aspects of your life that are good. Really see them. As best as you can, be grateful.
- Remember who you are. You are not the dumped lover or the fired employee or the person who fucked things up so miserably. You are more than that. The situation does not define you. You are a beautiful human being who happens to be going through a hard time. Your essential goodness is not in question here. Give yourself that much. Show yourself compassion.
Eventually, the laws of impermanence will shift in your favor. You don’t know what will roll through next. That’s the wonder and the curse of it all. But the human ability to endure is profound. And as long as fellow sentient beings are roaming this earth, you’re never really alone. I have to believe that we will all be OK. Hang tough. Hang in. Hang on.
“Trust that the desperation will go away.” –James Altucher