When Things Seem Out of Control
Sometimes, life throws us a curve ball, and no matter what our physical condition, the hours we have practiced, or the protective gear we have donned, we are thrown off balance and loose our footing. It may mean that we are down for the count, on the sidelines for an inning, or maybe even out of commission for a while. Life is going on all around us, but we feel numb, insignificant, hurt, betrayed, or sick inside.
It seems as though our world has collapsed, crushing us underneath. We wander around aimlessly, scared and unable to reason. Whether we are caught up in the whirlwind of a broken relationship, washed away in a tidal wave from the death of a loved one, or thrust through the windshield of terminated employment, emotional disaster affects us much the same way as natural disaster. We are left to ask ourselves:
- Why me?
- How did this happen?
- What do I do now?
We lose track of our resources, our support network seems to have taken a vacation, and our goals and dreams are shattered like broken glass after a hurricane. We are unable to determine a productive course of action and feel a deep sense of loss. The paragraphs that follow help us to:
- Assess the damages
- File an insurance claim
- Start the rebuilding process
Assess the Damages
Our emotions are inseparably connected to our physical bodies. They are physical manifestations of the things that are going through our brains. As such, when things are awry, we have an increase in physical symptoms.
At first, we may think that we are coming down with some type of serious illness. Remember, stressful events increase the body's susceptibility to infection, disease, and mental health problems. A thorough medical evaluation will reveal anything serious that needs prompt attention.
The table below lists some of the physical symptoms we may be experiencing. These symptoms are common during emotionally trying times, and do not necessarily mean chronic illness, but that things are going on that are not easily resolved. As we assess, we can look at possible causes and places to target intervention.
Crying for no apparent reason
Grieving over missed opportunities, lost relationships, or unfulfilled dreams
Over analyzing what is happening and trying to figure out what to do about it
Pre-occupation with matters that have deep life significance
Susceptibility to infections
Body's increased need for nutrients, coupled with lack of rest
Poignant emotions are blocking feelings of empathy and causing misunderstanding of others' situations
Impatience due to unresolved issues
Fatigue from being on an emotional roller coaster
Increased level of adrenaline speeds up the digestive process
Unexplained aches and pains
Muscles are responding to increased blood flow and presence of stress hormones
Low feelings of self-worth
Unresolved emotions resulting in negative self-talk
Assessing the damages gives us an understanding of how the troubling event or circumstance is affecting our current health and well-being. It also helps us to see that assistance is warranted. We cannot live life alone. We need others to help, inspire, and uplift us, no matter who we are and where we find ourselves.
The information we obtain as we assess the damages also gives us the basis for filing an insurance claim. There are many well-meaning people who will take advantage of us when we are in a vulnerable state of mind. Knowing where we are and what needs to be done arms us with the ability to recognize when others try to swindle us out of our time, energy, and resources.
File an Insurance Claim
We have many types of insurance we can file when things go wrong in life: auto insurance on our vehicles; health insurance for issues in our physical health; homeowner's insurance for things that happen to our property; and life insurance when loved ones leave this world.
Insurance purchased from these types of companies is dependent upon the premiums we have paid and the contingencies associated with our policies. When it comes to our emotional health, however, we are only covered by our insurance if we are having serious enough issues to need psychiatric or psychological intervention.
The support system we have formed throughout life as we have developed relationships with others, namely our friends, family members, co-workers, fellow church members, and neighbors becomes our emotional insurance. If we have treated these people with kindness, respect, and love, they will respond by forming a buffer zone of protection around us.
When difficult things happen, we file an emotional insurance claim by turning to these people. They care enough to listen, understand, and assist. We have to be wary, though, as our feelings may be easily hurt, or unknowingly swayed in the wrong direction.
The only thing that will help us know what is best for ourselves in these situations, is to turn to God for assistance. Whether we acknowledged God's presence previously or are just now realizing that we need him, it is time to file a claim. He will listen and hear, no matter what we have done and where we are in life. Third Day tells it like it is in the video below.
When we acknowledge that God is our Father, and we are his children, and build our core self-worth around this belief, it does not matter what happens in the rest of our world, we still are able to feel a sense of self-worth.
Turning to God gives us a chance to heal from our emotional wounds. He loves us with a love that is unconditional and unchanging. Our relationship with him also forms a system of checks and balances in our relationships with others. As we trust in God, we will be guided to know who else we can trust.
God is the only constant in the universe. The seasons change, our relationships come and go, and the things of this world rise and fall, but the love of God, manifested through the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, will carry us through. It gives us hope for a better tomorrow, a light to follow, and a place of peace amid the turmoil.
Start the Rebuilding Process
When the storms of life pull us to our knees, with the help of others, we can get back on track and move forward. It doesn't happen in an instant, and patience is necessary, not only with ourselves, but the situations we are facing, and the loved ones who are trying to help. We may think that because it happened in a moment, we can get back up in as short a time, but that is usually not the case. A step-by-step approach works best for most people.
First, focus on physical health
Emotional difficulty becomes disastrous when it disrupts life to the point that we loose track of our daily routine. Before we know it, we are suffering physically. Now is the time to re-establish the habits that have held our lives together through the years. They give us daily substance and structure. It is time to for:
- Adequate rest
- Nutritious meals
- Plenty of water
- Daily relaxation
As the emotional roller coaster slows down, and things start to settle, the best thing we can do is to get some rest. We may have to find ways to help ourselves relax in the evenings before bedtime. Warm baths, listening to soft music, reading enjoyable material, or meditation allows our bodies to unwind.
Nutrition is vital for rebuilding the mind, body and spirit. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and moderate amounts of protein give the body much needed nutrients for re-building our emotional health. Avoiding addictive substances is also wise. Although they may dull the pain, they leech nutrients from the body. Hydrate with water rather than commercial drinks containing additives.
Emotional health must be maintained regularly through creating enjoyable experiences in life. Oftentimes after emotional trauma, we think that we don't deserve to have fun, when the opposite is true. We need wholesome recreational activities to recreate who we are at the core of our being when our identity has been through a crisis. Laughter and enjoyment release life-giving substances in the brain.
Second, develop new hobbies and interests
Life changes after emotional trauma, and we need to change with it. That means that our view of the world needs a make-over. We re-define ourselves in terms of our new reality. As we do so, we are able to re-kindle faith and hope in humanity and our place in it. We are able to make plans for our own future, and the future of those we love.
We may find that our interests change as the people in our world change. Our feelings of vulnerability can be used to our advantage if we allow ourselves to experience new things, places, and people. At the same time, we build our own feelings of worth as we trust our instincts in what would be best for us. Our foundation of stability and structure has been shaken, and it is time to re-establish our identity and purpose.
Third, re-kindle relationships with friends and loved ones
Those around us may not understand what is happening to us, especially if they have not been involved in the emotional trauma that we experienced. It is up to us to assure them that we love them, and help them to still be a part of the new world we are building. They may question some of the decisions made, and we, too, must respect that they want what is best for us. Only time will tell if things are working to our advantage. If not, we can backtrack and try something else.
Just like a forest that has been burned with fire, our emotional disaster is now growing new seedlings. Our ability to incorporate the old world into the new will depend on keeping our loved ones and friends close to us. Life is a precious gift, and we have been given a second chance to make something of it.
When things seem out of control, remember to assess the damages, file an insurance claim, and rebuild.
© 2014 Denise W Anderson