The Blog


Dec 6, 2010

9 Ways To Keep Your Bearings When Things Get Tough

Last week we talked about changing your game, and one of the by-products of getting honest about what you truly want and going for it is that you’ll get pushback from others who don’t want you to change the status quo. Maybe your change in game plan rocks the boat, or changes a power dynamic, conflicts with their worldview or simply makes them uncomfortable because they wish they had the courage to truly act on their beliefs.

It doesn’t really matter why you’ll get pushback, though, because it’s generally not the kind of thing you can resolve via conversations.  You’ll just have to accept the fact that sometimes they may react by trying to talk you out of (or prevent you) from taking action that’s congruent with your core decision.

This post isn’t about how to change their minds – it’s about how to take care of yours. :-)

One of the inevitable things that happens when you decide to make a significant change in your life (changing careers, getting divorced, or changing/beginning religious beliefs, for example) is that people close to you who disagree with your decision will react very strongly against it on the grounds that “you” have changed – which usually isn’t true.

All that’s really happened is that you’ve gotten honest with yourself about who you are and realized that you can’t keep living in a way that’s incongruous with that any longer.  But because others don’t see that, it can really throw you for a loop and make you feel like your world is turning upside down.

I know I sure felt that way last month when I filed for divorce.  My family and social circles have had a very strong religious affiliation, so this went against the grain like you wouldn’t believe.  Tempers flared and things got messy very, very quickly. It’s been a very emotional process, but fortunately I’ve been able to cope because I took specific action steps before (and during) the transition period.

Here are a few of the things I’ve done to keep sane and grounded – and that I wager will help you navigate your transition as well.

  • Find experienced people to talk to. People who have been through what you’re going through can save your bacon by helping you understand what feelings are normal and expected (as well as how to effectively cope with them).  In my case, having people who have gone through divorce on call has helped me stay on an even keel when emotions run high.
  • Keep things objective. Friends and family often are too invested in how your decision changes things for them to be objective about what is “right.”  Talking to people who don’t have “skin in the game” and can be objective is a life saver.
  • Avoid hostile people. If people around you are reacting via passive-aggressive behavior (or outright rage), bullying you or actively retaliating against you, do not engage.  This can be incredibly tough when people you care about are trying to sabotage your attempt to live a congruent life, but you have to hold strong.  Make it clear you’re not going to react to provocation.
  • Get spiritually grounded. This means different things for different people, but it’s important.  Whether you’re meditating on the beauty of nature, studying your book of choice or participating in the traditions of your faith, there’s a healing effect that happens here.  When I walked into the cathedral for Mass yesterday morning I felt an instant sense of relief knowing I could put my troubles aside for an hour and tap into a support structure greater than myself.
  • Talk to counselors if you can. This is especially helpful when your decision is particularly massive, such as in the case of divorce.  It was very helpful to hear from experienced professionals that my reactions to fallout (as above) were healthy and normal, and that having people disagree with you doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. :-)
  • Get plenty of sleep and take care of your body. The stress of a major decision in combination of fallout from others can shake to your core if you don’t take care of yourself.  Get a good night’s sleep, no matter what.  Get exercise.  The long walks and physical exercise I’ve been getting over the last month have been critical in helping me keep things together – don’t neglect this.
  • Eat and drink things that will fuel you. This is the time when you need to watch what you put in your body.  Drink plenty of water and juice, and load up on fruits and vegetables, even if you don’t want ‘em.  You want to keep your energy levels up and your body topped off with all the nutrition it needs to keep you strong and focused.
  • Accept that you’ll freak out sometimes. You won’t be strong every day.  Some nights you’ll cry for an hour into your pillow.  Sometimes the stress of people you care about reacting so harshly against you will hit you like a crashing wave.  Sometimes you’ll miss the old way of living, even though you know the change you made was for the best.  This is natural.  Don’t fight the wave, but give yourself a chance to let it crash over you and dissipate.  “This too shall pass.”
  • Speed dial. When you’re feeling down, have a few people on tap to call and get advice and support from.  Don’t push though a painful time alone.  Having a wide range of people I can call or email at any hour of the day and who will be there for me has helped me immeasurably through this time.  Do everything you can to use this resource, too.  You’d be there for your friends without question – remember, they feel the same way about you and are happy to help. :-)

I hope this helps you – and here’s what I want you to do now.

  • If you’re going through a tough time now because you’re getting more honest about what you want out of life (and you’ve had the courage to begin changing things), then use the tips above to help you cope with strength in this challenging time.
  • Retweet this post via the button below and share these tips with others.

Stay strong, and spread the word -


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