Monday, August 14, 2017

How to cope when things happen that are outside of your control

Part of my job as a doula is to help others to feel confident in their birth choices. We have more power than we realize, but we do not have control over everything that happens to us during the birth process. That is one of the amazing, yet frustrating parts of giving birth. It is so unpredictable. We can do "everything right" and still not have the birth that we want.

So many things happen, on a daily basis, that we can't control, but affect our lives anyway. Much of it feels unfair. Much of it IS unfair. I hate that familiar feeling of powerlessness and rage that fills my mind and soul. It makes me want to do things that are uncharacteristic. I want to kick, scream, and cry. I want to hit and hurt. I want to run away and hide. I want to punch something. I want to do something, anything, to make these feeling go away. They suck.

I'm honestly no expert on how to cope with these feelings. I've tried some things that may help someone, but I keep having to deal with them myself. Here are a few things I've tried.

1. Keep breathing

I said it like that on purpose. Things have gotten so bad before that I've wanted to cease to exist. It feels like there is nowhere to turn. No one understands. What is the point of being here? No one cares. Everyone would be better off.

Please. Stay. You would be missed tremendously. You matter. If all you can do today is survive, to take one more breath, please, keep breathing. Just focus on breathing in, and breathing out. That's all you have to do today. Keep breathing.

Breathe in.

Breath out.

Repeat 672, 768, 000 times.

2. Cry

It is okay to cry. Really. Sometimes we work so hard to stifle our emotions, that the tears won't come. If you're not ready to cry, that's okay too. Sometimes a sad movie helps. Sometimes music helps. Whatever has worked before, it is worth trying again. Crying is healing, and it is a way to cope.

3. Move

Do something to move your body and get your blood flowing. Walk, run, dance, punch a pillow, go for a swim.

4. Go outside

Enjoy the sunshine or the shade. Go commune with nature. Nature has a calming influence.

5. Create

Get creative. Play the piano, drums, or whatever instrument you play. Sing. Color. Paint. Compose. Play with play doh. Crochet or knit. Build a bookshelf. Everyone has something they can create. I can hear it now. "I'm not creative. I don't know how to do anything." Sure you do. Can you clean something? You can create a cleaner space. Can you cut with scissors? Use glue? Cut out pictures from magazines that convey how you are feeling and glue them on a poster board. Draw a picture of some flowers and trees and make a collage. Make some yarn art. Take pictures on your phone. Start a blog. Make a meme. Participate in a video challenge. If you honestly can't think of anything creative to do, do this:

Make a video about three things you are thankful for today. Leave it in the comments if you'd like to share.

6. Serve others

This doesn't have to be extravagant or difficult. Smile. Bring someone a meal. Visit someone who is sick. Write a letter. Listen. Validate. Seek to understand. Babysit their kids. Look for the good. There are so many ways to help others.

7. Laugh

I often forget that laughter is a way to help me feel better about things going on in my life that I can't control. I love watching a good Jim Gaffigan video. He always makes me laugh.

8. Take a social media break

There are some great things about social media, but sometimes it just plain sucks. It often brings out the worst in people. Need I say more about this? Take a break.

9. Seek support

Confide in trusted friends or family members. Get some real life social interaction with real life people.

10. Practice gratitude

I have been a student of gratitude for a few years now. What I am starting to learn is that it is an action word and not just a feeling. I am no stranger to practice. Sometimes gratitude takes practice. Some days it might be difficult to feel thankful for things. It is okay to not FEEL it, but expressing it, even if just in your head, is a perfect starting point. What are three things that you are thankful for today? They can be the same three things as yesterday. After some days of practice, expressing gratitude will start to become easier.