My Most Tried-and-True Methods to Practice When Life Overwhelms You


I’ve been getting my share of lessons in acceptance lately. I choose to see it this way rather than as a run of bad luck because without fail I am more grateful, more clear-seeing, and more resourced on the other side of these stretches. When it’s happening I obviously just want it all to go away.

It started a few months ago when my daughter Lemon caught a stomach bug. It hit her hard, but I thought after a few days of gut rest she’d be back to her normal cheery self. Instead her entire system unravelled, and she lost the ability to digest anything. She survived on broth for another month while we waited for this monster to run its course. It was a lot of waiting in the dark.

When Lemon gets sick no one knows what’s happening. This time after lab work ruled out a few common bacteria and parasites, her pediatrician told me she would defer to me since I was the expert on my daughter’s health. I sat with these words for a minute unsure if that was actually a good thing in this case.

There really isn’t a net to catch this child when she falls. I hold her on the way down, and we fall together.

It has me thinking about how we all find ourselves in the depths at one time or another and have to find a way through. Holding healing for yourself or for someone you love is a commitment to staying present with fear, exhaustion, and every joyous gain. It’s allowing yourself to be right where you are with the tools you’ve got.

And rock bottom serves its purpose in that it’s a place to take inventory on what is and isn’t working and to resource for the next steps. The following ideas are some of my most tried-and-true methods for navigating the deep and making my way back home again. Hopefully they will help you too the next time life hits the fan in your house.

Feel your feet connecting with the earth. This is the most immediate kind of grounding work and can be done anywhere, anytime. There is only so much freaking out you can do while your focus is on your feet.

Practice gratitude about anything and everything. Say it out loud. This is life-changing work because it makes acceptance of what is feel bigger.

Ask for what you need (or want) from your partner, spouse, friend, and extended family. Don’t expect them to know until you verbalize it.

Explore more forms of support than you think you need (support groups, therapy, friend time, exercise). 

Connect with resources that align with your values – make sure it’s a right fit. If it isn’t, allow yourself to explore other options.

Create a space to be with yourself. Choose a place where you feel connected with something bigger than you. Church, yoga, a meditation circle, standing in the forest, or immersing in water.

Some days collapse is a necessary and logical response to what life brings. Go there and find the gem of stillness buried inside. When you feel ready get up and start again.

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”  — Rumi

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