Most people like stability, routine, and a sense of control over their lives. Individuals crave some steady ground to walk on, assurance that everything will be alright, a desire for safety and security, and the knowledge of how life will play out. One thing is for sure, experiencing uncomfortable emotions and uncertainty is a natural part of life. During challenging periods such as divorce or Covid-19, it is important to take the time to sit with the uncertainty and to focus on what can be controlled. Acting impulsively to escape or deny the discomfort has the potential of causing additional detrimental consequences. Intentionally shifting to more adaptive healthier strategies to deal with uncertainty can teach important life lessons that lead to a more peaceful and productive life. The L.E.A.N. framework (Let it Be, Empower, Accept, and Nourish), when implemented, creates an awareness of the skills needed to move through the challenge in an effective way.
LET IT BE:
It is okay to allow yourself the time to hurt or be sad. Letting go of difficult situations is often too much to ask but setting an intention to let things be as they are and move past them is much more manageable. Holding on to negativity impedes your personal growth and the ability to move forward. Wishing things were different also will not make them so. In order to move through a challenging situation and just let it be it is essential to focus on the following actions:
Stop blaming others.
-It is up to you to take responsibility for your own happiness. Start living the life you imagine and desire.
Make a conscious choice to free yourself.
-Set the intention to write a decision statement and the benefits you will receive from it. Print, post, and read the statement frequently. Your subconscious mind and the intentional behavior will begin to manifest itself naturally and guide you internally to move through the challenge.
Trust you will be okay.
-Think of instances in the past where you have felt a similar way and how you moved through it. Also, lean on friends and reach out to others you respect because chances are, they have gone through similar experiences.
Create moments of quiet.
-Take the time to pause and to focus on the messages in the mess. Stillness allows your inner whispers to be heard and to foster positive action.
You have a choice not to ruminate on things that are out of your control. When you experience that you can let things be that you thought you needed to hold onto, you allow life to teach you instead of remaining stuck.
You have the capability of making decisions and handling the various situations that might come your way. It is essential to view yourself as a valuable human being. Feeling like you have little power to change things is a mindset that can undermine your physical and emotional mental health. That type of “Stinking Thinking” is extremely disempowering and keeps you stuck. Managing your expectations, taking risks to move you forward, and facing reality will help you see how your challenges are rarely as bad as you thought they would be. When you find yourself in situations over which you feel you have little or no control encourage yourself to try the following actions:
Look for the good that does exist.
-There is always a lesson to be learned in any situation that can help you grow as a person.
-Set the intention of taking a few minutes before reacting to others and taking their behaviors personally.
Focus on staying in your own power.
-Remain as calm as possible even when others aren’t. This is the time to be mindful of taking deep breaths, being aware of your body language, and intentionally using your words wisely.
Ask for what you believe you need and set healthy boundaries.
-Remember, people treat you the way you allow them to.
Be mindful of not making requests of people who are incapable of responding appropriately.
-Know who you can rely on.
Make yourself a priority.
-Do things for yourself that bring you joy. Plan time for just you by establishing your goals and needs.
Recognizing your importance and ability to be a creator instead of a victim requires maintaining control over your thoughts. You have the power within yourself!
Accepting the present without an intense desire to change it can be extremely difficult. However, when you make a conscious effort to stop fighting reality and stop resenting that certain aspects of your life aren’t the way you want them to be, you leave a space for acceptance to arise. Pausing to explore what you are feeling and recognizing what is and where you can act and respond accordingly is where your control lies. Setting the intention to achieve acceptance can be manifested in the following ways:
Prior to reacting to a challenging situation, notice when you are fighting or resisting reality.
-When you are feeling bitter, resentful, unhappy, or disillusioned, it is an opportune time to explore those feelings in a curious non-judgmental way.
Make an internal commitment to stop fighting what is.
-Denying reality makes it difficult to focus on how to change the situation and creates suffering. By ranting, raving, judging and blaming, you waste physical and emotional energy and get nowhere. Acceptance is not approval. It is simply acknowledging the reality of a situation. As best as you can, turn your mind toward focusing on how to cope with the challenge. Decide that you are have choices to move beyond the present moment and ease your pain so you can consider how to handle the reality before you.
Use your body to help guide you.
-Focus on your breath and on relaxing the muscles in your shoulders, face, and stomach. When you are stressed, your body becomes tense. Setting the intention to relax will allow you to think more clearly.
Encourage yourself to act as if you are accepting (acknowledging, not approving) the situation.
-Fighting reality only intensifies your emotional reaction and creates suffering. You may experience pain, but suffering is optional. The process of acknowledging what is lets emotions arise and helps you move through a difficult period so you can develop a plan of action and move on.
Learning to accept the reality of a situation can be overwhelming at times. The critical thing is to remember that acceptance takes practice and it might feel uncomfortable and difficult at times. Setting the intention of acknowledging reality, not denying it or fighting it, can create the opportunity for problem solving and healing.
Taking care of yourself is essential, especially when going through a period of uncertainty. Often individuals let life happen to them without stopping to check in with themselves on a daily basis. Making self-care a priority allows you to connect to your own sense of meaning and enhances strength and resiliency during challenges times. Acting supportive and encouraging towards yourself requires focusing on the following skills:
Find comfort in daily rituals like meditation can enhance your ability to feel steady, centered, or at peace.
-Meditation helps you to relax, gain clarity, and provides you with the inner strength to move through a challenging situation. It can also help you stay calm and positive when things get out of control because it gives your mind a rest and allows your thoughts and emotions to settle down naturally so you can process more purposefully.
Make self-compassion a priority because it will allow you to feel more grounded and comforted during difficult times.
-Practicing mindfulness gives you time to be in the present moment with your thoughts and feelings. It also provides you with the opportunity to sit with your pain, understand its source, and creates a space for you to face the truth of your experience.
Set the intention of focusing on what is good.
-You are more likely to fixate on what might go wrong then what might go right. Being afraid is natural, but it only adds fuel to negative thoughts. Encourage yourself to look for the silver linings and the ways you can be grateful. When you take time to appreciate those things, you help your brain slow down negative thoughts. During this time, the brain releases serotonin which gives you a mood boost and dopamine which encourages your brain to keep looking for things to appreciate.
Feed your body with wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and healthy fats.
-Nutrition plays a critical role in your mental health. Eating a nutritious diet helps you keep a healthy body weight and a healthy heart. It also reduces your risk of developing some chronic diseases. By setting the intention of supplying your body with a healthy diet, you are giving your brain the fuel it needs to affect your cognitive processes and emotions in a positive way.
Move as much as you can.
-Daily physical activity is healthy for your body and mind. People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them a sense of well-being and accomplishment. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. Exercise also relieves stress, improves memory, and boosts your overall mood and health.
Practice intentional kindness or reach out to a close friend when you are feeling stressed or worried.
-Getting out of your head and having positive interactions with others releases oxytocin and helps to elevate your mood.
There are always opportunities to learn new skills, accept your feelings, tolerate distress, and to move forward despite not knowing what the future holds. In truth, you live with not knowing every single day. It is important to allow yourself the space to feel your emotions, acknowledge the reality of them, ride through them, and to take action to discover how to handle them. The answers will come as you walk through the process. Your journey will unfold, and you will be able to handle the realities that come your way. Setting the intention of using the L.E.A.N.framework will enhance your ability to move through periods of uncertainty in a more effective and beneficial way.
You will thrive!