A new year, a chance to close the chapters of 2015 – both the good and difficult times that occurred, some in our control and others that fell our way. For most of us, the challenges of health, aging, personal direction and the feeling of loneliness force us into ruts, losing the ability to maneuver our way in the most direct and passionate way.
In my book, Living with Loss, One Day at a Time I make reference to our struggle to climb out of the ruts of pain as we heal from any type of loss. On Day 123, I suggest avoiding the daily ruts that cause feelings of suffocation or of being trapped in our own emotions.
The New Year provides the opportunity to start fresh with newfound personal, emotional and spiritual goals. Of course, this is not a novel idea as every December 31st we create New Year’s resolutions, professing to honor these pledges that are set into motion on January 1st. Most of the goals that are set for a New Year are measurable – losing weight, spending more time with family and friends, selling more products, eating healthier, saving more money or establishing more “me time.” Most of these are achievable since creating new goals with measurable outcomes provide an opportunity to evaluate our individual progress.
What if this year, your goals were set based on your personal need of getting out of the ruts caused by internal or external circumstances? Of course this is not easy, as it requires self-introspection to determine what was causing us to be wedged in our personal circumstances and seek clarification or resolution. Just as I share on Day 123, the ruts are often out of our control; but how we embrace the rut and what we do to climb out of it is in our power.
As the New Year comes into full swing, the opportunity to look ahead is right in front of us. Embrace the circumstance that is causing you to feel trapped and set goals with specific, measurable outcomes to help reduce the anxiety of your situation and increase your happiness and contentment each day. Embrace each challenge – some might have a clear resolution while others will require you as an individual to change the way you look at the situation emotionally, physically and spiritually.
- If you are a family caregiver at your wits’ end because of the emotional and physical strain of care giving — resulting in watching your loved one’s health decline and not taking care of yourself — it is time to look at the situation differently to get out of the daily rut. Perhaps you can hire or ask for volunteers to help you with the physical care of your beloved; allowing someone else to handle the mundane tasks while you to spend more quality and loving time with your loved one.
- If you are grieving the loss of a loved one and are struggling to move on without them, imagine ways to stay connected to your beloved. As a survivor, establishing an emotional connection to your loved one is merely one way to climb out of the ruts caused by their passing. What if you created a living memorial – either establishing a place to go to remain connected or creating a legacy to pass on for generations? By creating a plan, engaging others and taking action each day will provide further, ongoing strength.
- If you or a family member has recently been diagnosed with an illness – whether terminal or impacting your daily quality of life, learning to live with the circumstance is truly the only way to climb out of the “daily rut.” Set a goal of learning more about the disease, join a support group to learn how others are embracing the challenge and try to focus on what’s ahead rather on what was in the past.
These three examples illustrate that although you may not have control of a specific challenge, you do have control over embracing the situation, setting goals and establishing a plan to get out of the ruts of stress and sadness. As I have shared over the years while facilitating support groups – you cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens, mastering it rather than allowing it to master you.
Updated: January 22, 2016