Have you ever felt like life is just too tough? You just want to run away…to anywhere just as long as you don’t stay where you are. But deep down you know that won’t help anything. Your problems will just pack themselves into whatever suitcase you pull off the shelf and jump out at you the first time you unlatch the lid and flip it open.
But that urge to flee remains. Your stomach is in knots. You’re tired. You don’t feel you have the strength to get through One. More. Crisis. You’re feel like you’re coming unglued.
Then, after awhile, after you’ve stomped around a bit, cried, complained, and threw yourself across the bed, you realize that running away would be fruitless (“Fruitless: failure to achieve the desired results; unproductive and useless.”)
So now what do you do?
The DBT skill of Radical Acceptance can really help here. Ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do about this? If yes, problem-solving skills come into play. Figure it out. What would be a next “wise” step for you to take. If the answer is no, then you need to survive the crisis. Radically accepting that this thing has happened and that we can skillfully move through the crisis will insure we don’t turn our pain into long-term suffering. Reminding myself that I only have to get through this one day helps me tremendously. Staying present, living my life one day at a time, I find beauty and comfort in the life I have been given. I practice gratitude, and focus on the good, on the blessings I have received. And I have another trick…I call it Time Machine.
This trick is adapted from “My Anxious Mind,” A Teens Guide to Managing Panic and Anxiety,” by Tompkins and Martinez. In many ways, I’m still a teenager at heart so this one works for me:
Ask yourself, in the scheme of things, with 100 being intolerable, how will I feel about this thing that has happened by the end of the day. Write it down. It could be that you believe you will still feel like this is the worst thing that has ever happened. OK…so 100. Then ask yourself, how will I feel about this is one week. Write it down. It could be that you think you will still be at 100 or maybe 90 or 80. That’s ok. Then ask yourself, how will I feel about this in one month…then six months…then one year…then five years. Chances are you will gain perspective and realize that this crisis will not even be on your radar in the pretty near future. You may see numbers like 80…50…25…2…now not thinking about this at all. This can help you move through it, knowing your pain is temporary and your life will move on.
Right now I am staring down the barrel of brain surgery. I feel like I have a ticking time bomb in my head. I too have felt like running away. I picture myself in Maui at Christmas. Then I realize that I would be laying on the beach worrying about my brain. But I do have a lot of peace. I am taking it one day at a time, living my life and enjoying the things that are most important to me…practicing Time Machine. And writing. I will never stop writing. A Journal is a great place to gather your thoughts…like putting them in a basket and leaving them on the shelf.
Please leave me a comment and let me know what helps you through crises. Let’s have a conversation. And please share this post. It may help someone in a way you would not know. I read things every day that help me with whatever it is I am going through.