Updated: Feb 27, 2019
Life is filled with constant change and transition. Although we have found ways to cope with small transitions throughout life, we sometimes find ourselves feeling stuck, frustrated, and overwhelmed when confronted with big change.
So how do we deal with big life transitions without losing our minds?
Here are 5 ways to help you cope with major life events:
1) "This Too Shall Pass" - This is a saying found in recovery literature and can really help someone though a tough situation. Although many use this term to help them work through their cravings to use drugs, I find it helpful in any situation where you might be feelings stressed, angry, overwhelmed, frustrated, or any other uncomfortable feeling. What this saying truly means is that feelings, thoughts, and events are all temporary. There will be times in our lives when we are happy and content but even those moments aren't forever. Therefore, the same thing is true for the times we feel sad, mad, or lonely. Remembering that there are better times ahead and that you have made it through every other major life change, can sometime be just enough to help you to keep you head held high and push through your current challenge.
2) Radical Acceptance - This is a term coined by Marsha Linehan in her book Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy of Borderline Personality Disorder written in 1993. To embrace radical acceptance in your life, you must come to terms with your current life situation. This means is that you need accept the things that are not in your control or are choosing not to change. Viewing life through a lens of acceptance can change your entire experience of a situation. The most common and simple example to radical acceptance is running late for an appointment. When you are in a rush and feeling frustrated, angry and stressed, doesn't it seem like to catch every single red light possible? How does fighting the fact that you are late help you to get there any faster? The truth is, when we are feeling frustrated, angry and stressed about being late it is normally an unnecessary suffering that we inflict on ourselves as punishment for not being on time. What would happen if you accepted that you were late and accepted the natural consequences of your tardiness? Could it be possible that your stress would melt away and your intense feeling would lessen? The fact of the matter is YES IT WILL! Although radical acceptance can be a powerful tool to help you through tough emotions and situations, remember that the most important part of radical acceptance is to allow yourself and ACCEPT your feelings for what they are. If you are feeling sad, frustrated, and hurt, it is okay to have these feelings because guess what?... This too shall pass!
3) Flip Your Vicious Thoughts - Okay to let me start by explaining what a vicious thought is; a vicious thought is a negative thought you have about yourself, your situation, or others. Many times our vicious thoughts come from a place of judgement and shame. It keeps us stuck in a situation longer than necessary and definitely increases our suffering. In Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) it is said that your thoughts influence your feelings, your feelings influence your behaviors, and your behaviors influence your outcome. If you are feeling stressed out about a big life change, it is possible that you are having some major vicious thoughts. The importance of flipping your negative thoughts into positive ones have to do with our desired outcome. If we want to stop the suffering, we need to change our thinking, so we can change our feelings, and therefore change our behavior to get a different result. Flipping your vicious thoughts doesn't always mean changing it into a positive. For example, you might be having vicious thoughts that sound like "I hate my life," "nothing ever goes my way," or even "why me?" These vicious thoughts will then lead to feeling sad, mad, lonely, frustrated, and scared. This in turn causes you to act impulsively and irrationally by blaming others, not taking accountability for your part, and ultimately non-acceptance of the situation. Flipping your thoughts would sound like "whenever I am challenged in life, I always make it through," "somethings do go my way," or even "I accept that life is hard right now and that I am sad and uncomfortable." Overall, flipping our stinkin' thinkin' helps us persevere.
4) Affirmations - content coming soon!
5) Faith - content coming soon!