Everyone goes through really rough times in their lives.
Not a single person is immune to sorrow or loss.
Every human experiences it.
It’s how we respond that defines who we are.
Sometimes things happen that completely throw all our plans out the window. They make you question what you are doing with your life or force you to remake something of the pieces that are left. This could be from a divorce, the death of a loved one, losing everything you own in a natural disaster, finding out you have a disease like diabetes or cancer, a violent assault, leaving an abusive relationship, or even a really bad breakup with a friend or other support system.
Its natural to feel lost.
Adrift. Like nothing is familiar anymore. Not only that, when something is familiar, it brings up bad memories and you want to get away from it as quickly as possible. I was there and I had to dig myself out of that place.
Here are 10 of the things I did to find myself again after a loss.
1. List the things you loved to do as a kid.
Then go do all those things. Seriously.
My list? As a kid
- I loved to ride my bike as fast as I could.
- I loved completing craft projects.
- I loved cats.
- I loved camping and visiting national parks.
- I loved building stuff.
- I loved exploring nature.
- I loved building forts.
- I loved helping people.
- I loved health and wellness.
- I loved photography.
- I loved writing in my journal.
- I loved writing stories.
- I loved learning new things.
- I loved swimming.
- I loved anything and everything French.
- I loved yoga.
- I loved listening to the birds and the sound of the wind in the trees.
- I loved being alone.
- I loved riding horses.
- I loved karate.
- I loved having my own at home spa days.
- I loved going to the beach in Ventura.
- I loved rock collecting in the desert.
- I loved to cook with my dad.
- I loved to draw and paint.
When I started thinking about reconnecting with myself, I started thinking about what gave me joy as a child. Children are carefree. They do what they enjoy naturally without thinking about opinions. You must connect to that inner childish spirit that wants to dance and explore. Do the things you used to love. I bet you will find out that many of these things still bring you immense joy. Challenge yourself to do each of them at least once in the next year.
2. Remove negative people from your life.
This is so so important. You need to make a list of every person you talk to on a regular basis and slowly and carefully evaluate your relationship with that person. I am talking everyone. Relatives, friends, neighbors, boss, spouse, even your individual children.
Analyze your interactions with these people.
Ask yourself how you feel after a few hours with them.
- Do you feel moody and exhausted?
- Do you feel inspired and energized?
- Does this person make you feel loved?
- Do they encourage you to follow your interests and passions?
- Or do they put you down?
- Or tell you that you will not succeed?
- Are any of these people involved with things that are against your morals and values?
- Do these people truly align with who you want to be?
- Are you proud or embarrassed to be associated with them?
After evaluating each relationship, start adjusting the amount of time you spend with people. Spend less time with those who drain you, and more time with those who energize and inspire you. You may even have to cut people off completely. Be ruthless. This is difficult, but until you do this you will not be able to focus on living a happy and fulfilled life.
A note on relatives. I had to cut contact or limit contact with a couple relatives that were constantly dragging me down and making me second guess my decisions. It made it very difficult to live a life that made me happy. It wasn’t until I removed those influences from my life that I finally found the strength to follow my passions. On the flip side, I started reconnecting with relatives I enjoyed spending time with as a child and now have some wonderfully fulfilling new relationships.
A note on your children. Obviously, if your child is under 18 you cannot cut them out of your life and you shouldn’t want to. If you are having trouble connecting to your child I suggest learning more about who they are. Learn what they are interested in, what they like to do, what they want to do, where they want to go. Be a partner in helping them to create their best life and your relationship with naturally grow stronger.
3. Fill your space with uplifting and inspiring talk.
I am so thankful for Youtubers! During the hardest times, I relied heavily on YouTube videos about positive thinking, attracting wellness, banishing negativity, living your best life, the Law of Attraction, setting and meeting goals, the habits of successful people, ways to manage stress and so on. I basically used YouTube to retrain my thinking to be more positive, focused and goal oriented. I also began spending more time with those people from list #2 who brought me joy and made a positive impact on my life. I’ll link a few of my favorite channels below.
4. Write Morning Pages.
Morning pages is a concept that comes from my stepdad’s favorite book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
We have so many thoughts that take up space in our minds at all times of the day and night. Many times, these thoughts keep us from creating, sleeping, taking risks, and even pursuing our dreams.
Morning pages are the cure. They are three handwritten pages, about 750 words, written every day, preferably in the early morning when its quiet and you have time to mentally prepare for your day. Don’t like to wake up early? Don’t worry I have a post coming for that soon!
There are no rules for your three pages. Just that you have to write at least 750 words. I suggest writing down the things that have been nagging you. Your schedule for the day. A to-do list. Things you are worried about. An event that upset you or was joyful. Plans for the future. A short story. It doesn’t matter. As long as you get whats clogging up your head onto the paper. You can even burn it after you write it. I know a few people that do this while they visualize their problems being solved.
Morning pages help clear your head and keep you focused on your day.
5. Clear out the old to make way for the new.
There is an old saying that some doors close so others may open and I believe this wholeheartedly. I also believe that it is difficult to move forward when our thoughts, surroundings, and energies are stuck in the past. This can happen when we surround ourselves with too much stuff. When we hang on to things that we do not love or use.
When our homes are full to the brim of old, broken, unused stuff we cannot bring anything new and useful into our lives.
Look into minimalism and start clearing out the clutter. You will quickly find that you feel more energized in your home when it’s clean and clear of clutter. Your space can breathe. You and your home will feel more alive!
6. Make a Pinterest board… or ten of them!
I absolutely love Pinterest! It has been a crucial tool in helping me find who I am and what makes my heart and soul sing.
Through creating Pinterest boards I have defined all aspects of my personal style, from my home to my art.
Create your own set boards that define what you love. Every time you see an image of something you love, a quote, a place, a person, an animal, an outfit, a home interior, pin it to your style board. Eventually, you will start to see a trend in your board. You will start to see what you love and what you don’t.
Branch out and start creating boards for your clothes, home, and career. Over time you will learn what makes your heart go aflutter and this will keep you from spending money unnecessarily on things you don’t need or really want.
7. Get a handle on your finances.
According to Time Magazine, the average American under 35 has $67,400 of debt! By age 44 this number jumps to $133,100! That is a lot of debt!
Owing so much money to debtors that you are living paycheck to paycheck, or worse, living off credit, can make anyone feel lost and hopeless.
You must get a handle on your finances if you are ever to find lasting joy and fulfillment.
It took about 6 years before I paid off all my debts except my student loans, which I am still accruing. You must take the time to learn how to manage your money and pay down your debt.
Not sure where to start?
I have loved Dave Ramsey’s baby steps from the very first time I read his book. You can find more information about the baby steps on his website. He will help you make a budget, get your debts organized and develop a plan to pay them down, even if you don’t have enough money to pay what you owe each month.
8. Get back to nature.
Natural places have incredible healing power. Spending time in beautiful places helps calm your body and your spirit. Its even scientifically proven that beautiful natural spaces have a unique energy that is incredibly healing. If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed go to a local park, a natural wildlife preserve, or a forest, lake or beach. Focus on relaxing your body and allowing your worries to drain away, just for this moment. The more time you spend in nature the healthier you will become.
9. Eat good food. Get enough sleep. Get some exercise. Drink plenty of water. Take your vitamins. Go see your doctor and dentist.
When we get depressed or experience loss or hardship, we often stop taking care of our bodies. We eat more fast food, we stop taking long walks with the kids, we forget to take our vitamins, we forget to get health checkups, we start drinking more coffee and less water. We stay up late worrying about things we cannot control.
This is the worst thing you can do to your body during times of stress. When you are under stress you need to make sure you are staying on top of these essential things. This is the basis for health and wellness. If we are not healthy, we cannot put everything we have toward reaching our goals.
10. Set a goal. Make a plan. Take action.
Realize that you can make nearly anything happen if you put your mind to it. Make a plan, but don’t stop there. You must take action. You must take small steps toward your goals every day.
Backward design is a concept I learned in teaching and here I am applying it to creating the life you want. Basically, you start with your goal and work backward from the goal to figure out the steps it took to get there.
For example, I want to make $100,000 a year on my own within the next 3 years. Let us imagine I am already making $100k per year. How did I do this? Well, I have my teaching job, which covers about half that before taxes and Ill get a raise when I finish my credential program. I also do photography, and collect a frappuccino’s worth of dividends from my investments each month, so how am I going to make an extra $50k a year? Well, I made a list of course! I can write, take pictures, teach, and do art. I have specialized training in mindfulness, meditation, Law of Attraction, goal setting, making videos and much more. I love blogging and YouTube and teaching others things to better their lives, so I am going to combine those things to make that $50k. I am going to write on my blog, start selling some of the photos I have taken, start writing articles and ebooks to sell, offer my services to restaurants for food photography and so much more!
Now it’s your turn. What is your goal and how are you going to get there. Make your steps. Make steps for your steps and check at least one thing off your list every day.
It’s so important to take it one small step at a time and do it every day. Just 20 minutes a day will add up to incredible change in your life!
Finally, give yourself time and have patience.
It takes time to heal from a loss. Give yourself that time, but don’t get lost in it. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and when you are ready, start following the above steps, in whatever order you deem necessary for your situation. I hope they help you as much as they helped me.