A Story about Chaos
Recently, I caught up with a friend at a cafe as she, near tears, updated me on a major break up of a long term relationship where she had to move out of the home that she and her ex shared up until 5 months prior. This came at the most crushing of times. Money was tight, business staggered as her client base stalled and she exhausted her stays at various friends’ apartments in the main part of the city. As a last resort, she ended up on the couch of her only relative in the city, an unmarried uncle whose small 1 bedroom apartment in a slightly rougher part of town would help her save money and provide extended time to search in the ultra competitive New York City real estate market.
Now, her uncle was a well meaning person but he was not exactly the poster child for Mr. Clean and it didn’t help that there was a constant stream of poker loving, beer guzzling buddies visiting into the late hours, usually plopping themselves on the couch a.k.a her ‘bed’. And to make things a bit more challenging, he didn’t use the internet. As a result my friend became a wandering nomad schlepping the hour commute to cafes and co-working spaces, typing away at odd hours while conducting meetings in any place that would provide peace and a digital connection. With no privacy, sanctuary and the constant doom and gloom environment adding to the already internal chaos raging inside her, her health suffered. It was a vicious cycle of high stress, little sleep, exhaustion and random grab and go eats. Who I saw that one Wednesday afternoon was a ghost of a friend I knew.
As a wellness coach, my reflex action was to lean in and listen, then go down the checklist of self care as it pertains to her. I had to find out if there was any way she could find time to destress either in meditating, exercising or shifting her eating routine. Her answer was, “My life is so crazy right now, I don’t have the time or the routine to meditate. I don’t even have time to take my vitamins. I just need to find an apartment and everything will go back to normal.” I looked at her and gave her a curious “really?” smile. With that I realized she already had everything she needed to save her from those 5 months of chaos if she had come to the same conclusion I just did at that moment.
Big change from small wins
“What if you create a routine with your vitamins and exercise?” I asked. She sighed, “There’s just too much going on … but I see where you are going with this.” When you feel your life is in state of flux, the massive walls may feel like it’s closing in as the environment all around you is negative. But it’s really about your mind shifting to create routines and rituals that will allow you to find your center again. Our natural state is to find order within chaos. Our bodies and minds are always striving to achieve balance. We would benefit immensely if we use this inner compass to create order and peace when everything outside is chaos. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed by the negativity of our current circumstances that we get paralyzed into thinking that the external circumstances have complete control.
Guess what, they do but not without a fight. They do because they are a reflection of how you deal with your internal chaos. You have everything within you to create peace and balance but it takes small concerted actions with consistency and intention. Rituals and routines are starting points create habits to shift you into a grounded mind set. Eventually you will see a change. But first you must decide that you are ready for a change. For my friend, she made the conscientious decision to change that very day in the cafe because honestly, she had enough. She acknowledged her situation, then we designated a couple of small actionable steps that would make her feel positive and productive in her own self care. She bought her vitamins and dedicated a time daily to take them or pre-measured and carried them with her if she planned on a busy day. She carved out Saturday and Sunday mornings to do her walk and even squeezed in 10 minutes of meditation before she went to bed. I suggested that she create alarm alerts on her phone so she wouldn’t forget. We have morning alarms to help us wake up, why not afternoon and night alarms to key us into these moments that will eventually heal us?
The answer is right under your nose… and over, left, right to it
When we create routines and rituals for ourselves, we create opportunities to consistently move ourselves forward. It doesn’t have to be a perfect journey – you adjust, learn and shift again so it works out for you. You’ll start to see your external environment in a different light and free yourself from the mental constraints that held you back. My friend came to realize that even though the environment around her was chaos, the routines she created built up a mindset that helped her neutralize the external chaos. She realized that it wasn’t a change of environment she needed but rather, routine habits that empower her to feel she has order internally if only to get closer to her goal. Habits create expectations that your immediate result will always be the same and they take less brain power to process because the tasks are now automated – by you. It would be in your best interest to create a routine of habits that empower and lift you up as you move consistently towards your ideal big outcome. My friend had all the tools and intention within herself but just needed to acknowledge that she was ready and willing to do the work for eventual change.
As of today, she found her dream apartment 4 weeks after our meeting. She has reconciled with her ex. She has created a new program that is building much buzz for new clients. Out of the blue, a company recruited her on LinkedIn to do their executive training and she’s getting paid generously for her work. The change journey is different for everybody but when you shift your mindset outside of what you already know to consistent inspired action, it will lead to small wins. And she was able to build momentum and confidence to meet the next goal. After stacking those actions together for a while, you may not recognize a big shift is happening automatically, but you will certainly feel it.
We all have it within ourselves to change. You don’t have to go very far to find the answers. Those answers are usually best served up by those powerful questions brought upon by change worthy situations that compel us to find a better way.
We have the gift to reach for something that is bigger than ourselves. Ask yourself what is the change you want to see within yourself? What does that change look like in your life? What is one thing you can do to get that started? You can do this.