Last month, I ended up in the Emergency Room twice in one weekend.
I first went in for a pretty extreme allergic skin reaction all over my hands and neck. I’m still not sure exactly what caused it — whether it was poison ivy or some other kind of allergen — but it was rapidly getting worse and I was starting to freak out. I was afraid it might be infected or my neck might swell up and cause bigger problems, so I rushed in to get it checked out.
The next morning, I woke up and had another freak out when I looked in the mirror and saw that my face had swollen up to the point that I hardly recognized myself. It was like looking at my face in a fun-house mirror that threw my normal proportions all out of whack.
I panicked (naturally) and went back to the ER, only to be told that it was a side effect of the high steroid dose they’d given me the day before.
That whole weekend was scary and made me feel completely out of control, and the past month since then hasn’t been much better while I’ve been healing. The skin on my hands isn’t fully back to normal yet, and I still don’t know what caused the reaction in the first place.
I’m realizing that, even though I’ve rarely experienced this kind of out-of-control feeling when it comes to my physical health, I’m no stranger to feeling this way in other areas of my life.
We’ve all been here at some point. Whether you’re feeling out of control in your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, or any other situation, it can make you feel scared, powerless, and alone.
In years past, I haven’t always known how to deal with that out-of-control feeling, and I’d go down the rabbit hole of dread and fear until I was practically frozen with overwhelm. But I’m trying a new approach this time, and it seems to be working.
STOP FIGHTING YOUR SITUATION
My first response to this scary skin reaction was to stress out, think (and talk) incessantly about how uncomfortable I was and how much I hated this situation, and feel generally miserable.
Until I realized, I used to do the exact same thing when I was feeling frustrated and trapped at my old job … and it didn’t help at all. It just made me feel worse!
Eventually I got sick of hearing myself complain, and I decided to try something different. I stopped resisting and accepted that, for now, I’m in this situation. And that’s OK.
Honestly, it felt like a relief to give up the fight.
I want to be clear, though, that just because I decided to accept my current situation does NOT mean I’ve just been sitting around, tolerating misery, resigning myself to a lifetime of irritated skin.
I’ve been tweaking my diet, seeing a Naturopathic doctor, changing my daily supplements, choosing more natural soaps and detergents, asking for support from friends and family, getting more sleep, meditating more regularly, and saying “No” to more things in the name of slowing down and healing.
Acceptance doesn’t mean not taking action — it just means having more patience and less judgment about what’s happening right now. It means remembering that this is temporary.
THIS IS TEMPORARY
During my worst days this past month, when my skin was inflamed and I was having terrible side effects from the strong medications, I would tell myself, “Right now, in this moment, I’m OK.” Then a few minutes later, I’d check in again. “Yep, still OK.”
Sometimes, when things are scariest and most out of control, all you can do is take life moment by moment and remember that you’re still here and you’re still OK.
If you’re uncertain, overwhelmed, scared, confused, or just over it … tell yourself as many times as you need to that this is temporary. Life won’t always be like this. And, in fact, your life might turn out even better because you’re in the situation right now.
THINGS BREAK DOWN BEFORE THEY GET BETTER
Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago, “What if this is ultimately happening for your highest good?”
In the moment, I’ll admit that I was at a low point, feeling cranky and physically uncomfortable, and I was so annoyed by that question. You know when you’re having a particularly bad day and someone is cheery and perky and overly positive, and it just gets under your skin? Yeah, it was like that.
But I’ve been revisiting that question a lot lately (in a much better frame of mind!), and I’m realizing that every time it’s felt like life is falling down all around me, it was actually preparing me for something even better on the other side.
That’s because things breaking down isn’t a sign that something is wrong — it’s just a way of clearing out the junk and creating space for something even better to show up.
There’s nothing like feeling totally out of control to wake you up out of your day-to-day routine and remind you what’s really important in life.
MISERY SPARKS CHANGE
There’s also nothing like misery to motivate you to make a change.
Going to the ER twice and dealing with a month of health issues was more than enough motivation for me to finally reach out to a local naturopathic doctor, who’d I’d been wanting to contact for months but kept putting off. And she’s helping me take my health to the next level.
Feeling miserable and trapped in my old office jobs was the motivation I needed to break free from Corporate America and start a business with my best friend. If Rachel and I both hadn’t been SO unhappy in our respective jobs, Clarity on Fire wouldn’t exist today.
As much as your current situation might suck, it may be the perfect catalyst into a better life than you ever thought was possible.
So I’ll ask you what I’ve been asking myself for weeks now:
What if this is ultimately happening for your highest good? What is this situation asking you to do differently?
WHAT WILL YOU MOST APPRECIATE AFTER THIS CHAOS IS OVER?
As I’m slowly healing and getting back to normal, there are SO many things that I’m appreciating now that I took for granted before. Little things, like sleeping fully through the night, having energy and mental focus, and going out in public without feeling like everyone is staring at me like I’m a leper. I’m grateful for the little things that I used to overlook.
If you’re still in the midst of your frustration, uncertainty, or chaos, visualize how you’ll feel and what you’ll most appreciate after this is all over.
In fact, spend a few minutes every day relishing in how you’ll feel on the other side of this. Not only will it help you remember that this is temporary, it may open you up to receiving the end goal you want even sooner.
So tell me, are you feeling completely out of control in some area of your life? How can you try to see your situation through this new perspective? Leave a comment to let me know!
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Kristen (+ Rachel)