Dealing with Chaos

To say that life is significantly different today than it was last month is an understatement.

Last month, most of our children were in school. We were at work…in an office…wearing grown-up clothes…with other humans. We didn’t second-guess our toilet paper usage. We planned vacations. We didn’t obsessively track the stock market.

Life has dramatically changed for all of us.

People are scared and feeling lost.

Binging on Netflix

Drinking too much wine

Avoiding work

Ignoring your diet

Skipping workouts

Eating all the ice cream in the house

Any of these sound familiar?

We are struggling. We are gaining weight, we are ignoring our best laid plans, we are skipping workouts, overeating, overdrinking and feeling blah.

Lately, my clients have been coming to me and they want help to stop these behaviors. They want to work on getting focused and motivated. They are pissed at themselves for “falling apart…falling off the wagon…letting themselves go” they are irritated that they aren’t sticking to their plans, that they are unwinding everything they had been working for, why can’t they get it together, GDI!?

As a coach, my job is not to help you learn how to control yourself. My job is to help you understand yourself.

When you are busy beating yourself up and trying to force yourself or guilt yourself to change or stop eating all the things, you are ignoring the dis-ease. You are focusing on the symptom.

In order to truly stop these behaviors, you have to stop berating yourself and look at what is really going on!

Are you avoiding work because you are afraid you are going to lose your job so your work today won’t matter?

Are you drinking that bottle of wine because it feels good and you’re scared about what will happen to your aging parents?

Maybe you are skipping your workouts because you just don’t care how you will look in a bathing suit during quarantine? It’s not like you will be going on vacation anytime soon!!

Are you binging on Netflix because it allows you to escape the news and ignore what’s going on outside?

Would you yell at your best friend for diving into a box of Oreos after a horrible breakup? Of course not! You would empathize with her. You would love her. You would understand why she was feeling terrible. You would be compassionate about her efforts to self-soothe. The last thing you would do is tell her she needs to stop it immediately and explain to her how she was ruining her diet and needs to get it together.

Extend that same compassion to yourself.

Life is getting real right now and it’s kinda scary.

Instead of getting angry at yourself because you are not acting like you are “supposed to”, explore what is really going on. What are you thinking when you turn off the work computer and zone out on Netflix? What is going through your head when you decide to bake that cake?–for yourself, of course.

We are all experiencing some pretty ugly thoughts these days.

What if my parents get sick and I can’t be there with them?

What if we have to quarantine for several more months?

What if we run out of diapers?

What if I get sick?

What if I die?

What if I lose my job?

You have every right to be afraid and upset and worried. Stop beating yourself up for trying to feel better. Stop being such a harsh critic.

It’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to worry about what our future holds. It’s okay that you are grasping at straws to self-soothe. That is human nature.

Life is meant to be 50/50. We are living in the 50% that sucks. Pure and simple. Stop trying to talk yourself out of feeling those rotten feelings. You are a human. That is part of the deal.

Recognize that you are struggling and have some compassion for yourself.

Once you can see how your actions are merely attempts to make yourself feel better and to buffer the discomfort, you can start considering how to shift out of those thoughts and create a new result for yourself.

You can start recognizing when you are feeling freaked out and seeing how your biological reaction is to seek pleasure and soothe yourself. Once you see that, you can start looking for other outlets for those emotions. You can’t do that when you are busy telling yourself you are a terrible person for eating all the Doritos!

The bottom line is that beating yourself up for acting out during times of grief and panic is counter-productive. Have some compassion for yourself. Just as you would do with your friend: let yourself have a good cry, a good ice cream binge, a night on the couch. Recognize the feelings driving those actions, then gently work with yourself to find a healthier outlet for those emotions.

The goal is not to find a solution to erase those feelings. The goal is to recognize that those feelings are PART OF LIFE. They are okay. And it is okay to experience them. They won’t kill you.

You can keep moving forward while feeling all the feels. That is how life works.

See the emotions fueling your destructive behaviors. Acknowledge them. Experience them. Learn to make better choices, despite the feels. Carry those worries with you but keep. moving. forward. consciously.

Now more than ever, people need support. If you need additional support, schedule a free session, I would love to help you move through this chaos.

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