What do you do when everything falls apart?
You know, those times.
A breakup. A death of a loved one. Losing your job. An illness. A mid-life crisis. Or when just about everything in your life explodes.
Yes, those times of crisis.
When the ground you stand on cracks open. When what was secure and steady is now uncertain and chaotic. When you feel out of control. Helpless. Scared. And lost.
You think: It’s not supposed to! How will I get through this?
What you try to do
So you try to hold on to what you had. You desperately try to return to who you were. You try to regain the safety and security you felt.
But it just doesn’t work. Because everything’s changing.
Barn's burnt down —
I can see the moon.
When everything in your life changes, it means you’re reaching the limit of who you are now. Like a snake sloughs its skin, you’re being pushed and birthed into a new version of yourself. For that to happen, some parts of you must dissolve, disintegrate, even die.
Without change, you stagnate. Who you are now must give way to who you will be.
Kāli, the dark goddess of destruction, is dancing her dance. The dance of chaos. The dance of change.
The third energy in the life wheel of creating-sustaining-dying, Kāli destroys to make room for new life, vitality, and growth. Just as winter dies so spring can be born, so the old must give way to the new. There's wisdom at work here.
When everything in your life changes, it means you’re getting ready to transform. You’re preparing for a new identity and way of being in the world.
When everything in your life changes, it’s an opportunity. Will you take this energy and run with it? Or not?
How to work with change
1. Accept and embrace change
You want to turn back the clock. You want things to return to the way they were.
You want your relationship or job back, and the security and comfort of the way things were. It can be really hard to accept change. You feel uncertain, anxious, and afraid. Mostly, you’re not in control.
But at some point you get, really get, that things won’t return to the way they were. The only way is forward and different.
You’ll get the most out of this period by working with change instead of fighting it.
2. Be present
Stay present with yourself and difficult feelings like fear, anxiety, and confusion.
Allow yourself to feel. When you’re sad, angry, or confused, be with it all. Let yourself cry if you’re grieving.
You may be tempted to do things or distract yourself to regain some sense of control. Try staying as close to your feelings as you can without getting overwhelmed.
Breathe. Deeply and often. Especially when you’re feeling something intense.
3. Don’t do — allow
This time is about letting go of who you used to be, which means not knowing who you’re going to be in the future.
Change can be scary. It can be tempting to distract or numb yourself or return to old ways you used to do things.
The more you allow change to organically happen, instead of willing or forcing, the more authentic and rewarding it will be.
Trust your feelings, your body, and your heart. The best way to birth the new you is to allow what wants to shift and come forward. When you ride the wave of change, you get the most out of it.
4. Seek support
It can be really helpful to seek support at this time from a therapist, coach, or healer. Intense feelings are natural and it can be a huge relief to have a safe space and relationship in which to process.
Reach out and connect with friends, family, and community who understand what you’re going through.
Consider joining local groups and communities, or online groups if there aren’t any in your area.
5. Do your inner work
When life falls apart, it’s a clear message that some ways of being, often beliefs and patterns, are outdated.
- What themes are showing up?
- What about you is being challenged?
- What’s being stirred in your unconscious?
- What are you ready to let go of, heal, and transform?
Use this time as an opportunity to clear and release old ways of being and shift to a more authentic you.
Again, work with a therapist or professional to get to the root of what this is about for you.
6. Nurture yourselfBe gentle and compassionate with yourself.
Nurture yourself with self-care.
Do things that are grounding for you, like yoga, tai chi, gardening, or make things with your hands. Do what’s soothing for you, like listening to music, playing an instrument, or hiking in nature.
Maybe meditation, an awareness or spiritual practice, or prayer will feel centering and grounding.
7. Learn to be with not knowing
Learning to be with not knowing can be unnerving, yet energizing. All your fears will come up. But it also holds gifts you’ve longed for.
It’s like being in a dark room, in which you slowly begin to see. You start to see and feel things which you didn’t when the lights were on.
Trust yourself. Maybe you’ll discover something about yourself. Give yourself a chance to explore.
Do things differently. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Fall down. Pick yourself up. Try new ways of being.
What are some other ways you’ve navigated life when everything falls apart? I’d love for you to share them here.