I am not sure whether everyone hits rock bottom, nor whether that moment is always a catalyst for change. What I do know is that during times of overwhelm I tend to downward spiral really quickly. New action is necessary to redirect this habit; but how do I take different actions and make the change?
6pm on a Tuesday in the middle of winter, the snow is falling adding to the existing white blanket already on the street. The sky is dark but clear and I can see the stars. I am sitting in my car in the parking lot outside the grocery store.
I have no appreciation for the beauty of this moment. Instead I’m wallowing in self-pity, tears running down my face, negative thoughts about myself and my life consuming my mind.
It could just as easily be a Monday morning, a Saturday afternoon, or any other day and time. Leaving the house to be alone and cry became a regular occurrence for me, an almost daily part of my routine.
I would use getting groceries, walking our dog, or any other reason I could think of to disappear from my reality. Then always, instead of using my time to do the errand or chore in a timely manner, I would pull out my phone and distract myself (hello Cookie Jam). This behavior continued for months!
My thoughts were loud and full of self-blame; for example… "What happened to me, I’m so mean all the time", "I’m a terrible mother", "I know I said this yesterday, but I’ll do better tomorrow", or "at least my children will learn how not to behave".
It was on one of those trips to the grocery store parking lot that something snapped and I forced myself to self-reflect and face the facts. My children, my husband, and even the dog were hurting and they deserved better. This was not the type of parent, wife, or person I wanted to be.
That was my rock bottom. I was in the worst health of my life, I had zero motivation, and I wanted to avoid all social situations. I knew something needed to change. It was time for me to take back control of my life and I needed to do it now!
In that “now” moment, I took a new action. I immediately stopped wishing and hoping and I made a choice to do something different. No more waiting for the perfect moment, no more waiting for "normal" life to return. Right then and there I deleted the game I was playing on my phone (bye-bye Cookie Jam) and sent an email to a friend for advice.
A couple months later I listened to the audiobook ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ by Tony Robbins. The book helped me understand that the moment in the car was a time of deliberate decision and clear action. That the “doing” was the spark that allowed me to create my new attitudes and reality.
Robbins states “making a true decision means cutting off any other possibility.” And that’s exactly what I did! I made a decision (I had forgotten I could do that). I stopped distracting myself, said enough is enough, and I committed to taking steps towards self-improvement.
I have also since learned about emotional feedback loops which has been very impactful as well. In the book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*’, Mark Manson writes about sitting with our emotions rather than run away from them (I’m definitely familiar with running). He explains that if we listen to our minds and feel the reactions in our bodies, we are being told exactly what to do by our internal compass.
Positive or negative emotions are neither good nor bad. Manson explains that all emotions are there to provide information about our current behavior and whether or not it aligns with our values. It is then up to us to listen to that emotion and take action.
There are times when I know change is needed but find it difficult to make a decision. In these situations I have found one of two things to be true. Either I am not fully invested in the options that are currently presenting themselves, or my values align with more than one of the options.
When this happens I still find it calming to choose something rather than remaining on the fence. It may not work but the point is to take an immediate action so the moment does not pass me by. I’d rather make a mistake than end up feeling the exact same way or in the same unhappy state.
“If you change nothing, nothing changes.”
~ Joyce Brothers
I believe I am like most people and had lost the ability to make a real decision. It was a skill I had to relearn and a skill I have to constantly work on. When I exercise my decision making muscle correctly I feel a sense of personal power and integrity. These provide me with the clarity and confidence I need to make lasting and actionable change.
I overthink less often and therefore stop creating problems that aren’t there. I am also able to make more committed decisions because of my increased self-awareness.
After honestly opening up in that email about where I was in life and how I felt, I freed myself to ask for help. Every day since I am learning something new about how to take care of myself and be the HAPPY HEALTHY MOM, wife, and person I always knew I was and am capable of being.
Reading books on parenting, self-improvement, self-love, habits, purpose, and change. Listening to podcasts and watching documentaries on productivity, mindset, fitness, and nutrition. Speaking with coaches, friends, family, and strangers. These have all been woven into my way of living.
Now instead of distracting myself and disappearing when I feel overwhelmed, I turn to learning. I have stopped, or at least lessened the frequency of running from my reality, the habits I’d like to change, and making choices.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Next time you feel like you are stuck, losing control, or overwhelmed, try take instant action. Use Mel Robbins (simple, not easy) ‘5 Second Rule’. Count backwards “5-4-3-2-1” and immediately do something. It will stop your mind and force you to act which will redirect your energy and focus. You might surprise yourself at how quickly you can change.
Are there choices in your life that you need to make to create a better future? Are you willing to truly decide and get off the fence? What decisions have you made that shape your current reality? What new ones will you make to change your destiny?
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and share your thoughts.
With love and gratitude,
MANSON, M. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*. HarperOne. New York, 2016.
ROBBINS, M. The 5 Second Rule. Savio Republic. United States, 2017.
ROBBINS, T. Awaken the Giant Within. Simon and Schuster Audio. New York, 1991.
Sharing this post helps me out a ton <3
This is so well written! I have often felt like after a heated conversation someone I need what I called a "phase shift..." i.e. leaving the situation, going somewhere else, just to move the energy... it's sounds similar to 54321-Action --> make something change right away so you can move forward. Anyway, really good post!!!!
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