Often, I’d say almost on a daily basis, we find ourselves in a specific situation and we need to adjust or act accordingly. Some other times though, we are facing real life changes that really flip our lives upside down completely. Feels familiar? I know it happened to me many times and I’m going to share with you the tricks that kept me sane so that you can overcome the overwhelm too.
An obvious example is when you become a mama. For how much you love it or wanted to be a mother, or whether you live it with positivity or you feel in struggle, you can’t deny that it really changes everything. Right?
Other examples are:
- moving abroad (been there, done that)
- lose your job after years of education in that field (as above)
- Getting married (check)
- Going through a breakup (do I need to say it?)
- Grief or loss of a loved one (who doesn’t at least once)
- and many more
These are just some, but you and I know that there are tons of possible important events in our lives and I could go on and on.
If your big life change is about moving abroad I strongly suggest to download my freebie “5 survival tricks for expat mamas”. You can do it by filling out the form at the end of this post or you can find it here.
I personally had (or chose) to face some of them and I can tell you that, where some of them are easier than others to deal with, it’s necessary to understand that there are ways to make the passage less traumatic. Not always the things that happen around us are dictated by our choice.
We can’t always control what happen to us, but we can definitely control how we chose to act, react and adjust.
Let me be clear on one thing: this doesn’t mean becoming some sort of robot and hide or restrain your emotions. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
It means facing your emotions knowing exactly what they are, let them come out and then decide what to do.
Because there’s not such a thing as being able to handle a major life change if we can’t first and foremost understand where our emotions come from and how to use them in our favor.
And I’m about to show you exactly how to do that!
When life changes happen one next to the other like a perfect storm
If you’ve been following me for a while you already know that I already introduced this topic in my article “How to adjust to your new Expat life fast”. And while this is specific to expats like me, I also wrote other articles that you’ll mostly find in the category “Mom & Woman” to spread some humor about the crazy situations that moms, wives and expats have to deal with every single day. Three pretty good life changes, right?
But they’re not the only ones I went through in my life and I know for sure that they won’t be the last either.
As mentioned above, they can come by choice or not, but life changes can and WILL BE numerous during a life time and knowing how to deal with them at your best can really make a difference for you and for those who love you.
If you really really want to go deeper in my personal life, you can also read “From a big fat failure, to a lifelong dream” where I tell my story. In a nutshell this is what you’ll find:
- a really bad breakup
- the complete failure of my business
- the achievement of my biggest dream
But what matter the most, and the reason why I decided to be vulnerable and write that story, is to show you that without failure, the dream wouldn’t have become true.
But then it keeps raining..
One thing I didn’t write about in that article because it would have been too off-topic, is that at the time, my father was also diagnosed with colon cancer. Thankfully, it was operable and treatable, but let me tell you that it was like being hit by hammer in the back of my neck.
It could potentially have changed his and our life drastically.
So in a very short time I was going through 4 major life changing events. But that’s not it! (I want it all ’cause I’m greedy).
After moving the US, within 2 years I got married, changed carrier path, moved twice and became a mom (now that I think about it, no wonder why white hair started blooming on my head like daisies on a spring festival!)
But there are ways to face all these life changes, whether they’re making you struggle or making you happier.
Because even those changes that make you happy (in my case moving to the US or becoming a wife and mother) aren’t necessarily easier to manage.
A change, by its own nature, brings along a huge amount of adjustments and to deal with them all at once can be exhausting.
So now that you know a little bit more about my story, let’s get into the juice of this post, shall we?
How to face life changes
I want to start by asking you a simple question that you might or might not have heard before:
“How do eat an elephant?”
If you’ve never heard this little tricky question before, you might think I’m going nuts. And even more after you’ll read the answer. Ready?
“One bite at the time!”
Before closing your browser yelling at me, just hear me out ok? 🙂
When a humongous life change presents itself to your doorstep, what is the best thing you could possibly do?
Face it one step at the time is the only answer to stay sane!
Therefore, there’s no other solution than just keep reading, ok?
Because I’m about to show you the necessary steps to deal with this kind of situation.
The steps to deal with life changes (not necessarily in this order)
- Identify your concerns. Some life changes such as moving abroad, change your carrier path or marriage are usually things that you plan ahead. They don’t usually show up out of nowhere, right? This will allow you to anticipate what the biggest concerns are. Naming your biggest stress factors is an essential part of understanding how to face and overcome them. If instead you’re dealing with an unexpected event such as a sudden grief, or a breakup or being fired, read step 2 fist and then come back here. For what concerns the arrival of a newborn, whether was planned or not, you’ll definitely have tons of questions during the pregnancy. No worries, it’s absolutely normal. But in all of these examples, the time will come in which you’ll have to take a deep breath and identify the reasons that create anxiety or concern. Spoiler alert: for the most part, it’s the uncertainty of what the future might hold.
- Embrace your feelings and, when necessary, give yourself the time to process them. When all the emotions arrive as a tornado, do not repress them. Accept that it’s completely normal to feel confused, lost, anxious and find a way to vent it all out. Especially if it’s a grief, a breakup or an abusing situation of any sort, give yourself the time to metabolize and poor out your feelings about it. Seek help if you don’t know where to start from, you feel like you don’t have anyone you can talk to or a shoulder to cry on, but do not ever repress your emotions. Even when moving abroad is a choice like in my case, the moment in which the initial excitement fades away and you have to deal with your daily reality always comes. Poor out your homesickness, but don’t let these emotions make you blind to the beauty that’s all around you.
- Talk to someone and seek the support of people who have already been there. Whichever your big life change is, I assure you that there is someone who’s already gone through that. If you don’t know anyone personally, find a specialized therapist, or a Facebook group or do a research on Google or Pinterest for articles and blogs of people who, like you, have already dealt with the specific situation that you’re going through right now. I promise you, soon you’ll find someone who speaks right to your heart and you’ll start feeling less confused. But be aware of haters and negative people. Remember what I said earlier? Sometimes you can’t change what happens, but you can decide how to react. So surrounding yourself with negative people who will want you to believe that there’s no way out is definitely not a good idea. Especially because they’re a big bunch of lies!
- Find new opportunities. Once you’ve learned out to master your emotions, to identify your concerns and to find support, all you have to do is look around you and evaluate what this experience brought to your plate. In Italy we have a saying: “Chiusa una porta, si apre un portone” which I believe it translates as: “When a door closes, a window opens somewhere”. It kinda explains itself, right? But you also have to be able to see that window and sneak through it instead of keep trying to slam against that door behind you. Take advantage of this life changes to dig deeper inside yourself and understand who you are and how you want to live your tomorrow. And leave behind any expectation, which are for the most part a big disappointment. Have you ever noticed that the more expectations you have from a birthday party and the more this will go in a totally different way?
- Leave, live and look: the 3 magic Ls. Wait a minute, what? Yep, and this is the most important of all. Here it goes: Leave the past, Live the present, Look at the future. Allow dreams to flow through your brains and, if you like that dream, create a plan to make it become true. Whether it’s a house project, start a business or travel around the world, let that desire fire you up and motivate you to fill your present with small daily or weekly steps to reach that goal. This doesn’t mean living in a fantasy world and forget about your reality, but to reunite your today with your tomorrow, giving you that push to live with a purpose. Even when you become a mom, for instance, it’s easy to get to the point where you feel like you lost your identity or your freedom in exchange for another kind of happiness. You have to adjust to a completely different schedule and life and the feeling of doing or being nothing but a mom can be deceiving. Don’t let that fool you! Find your creative outlet, a hobby, a weekly or monthly commitment that will give you the joy of the anticipation. If a hitch gets in the way do not get discouraged. You can always pick up from where you’ve left off later on. The most important thing is that from the past you only bring with you the teaching moments and good memories, letting go of all the things that keep you stuck. And don’t forget to practice self-care on the way.
Find and practice what makes you feel good
Have you ever heard of a line that goes “The sky is the limit”?
I loooooooove this line because, in my life, I actually found the proof that the more violent your fall is, the faster you learn how to fly!
During the steps to face your life changes there will be thousands, millions of half-way moments that will try to change your path. Sometimes it’s time to pivot, and it’s ok as long as you’re happy with the decision. And sometimes it’s time to push through those moments and the small things might be what make the whole difference.
Physical exercise, deep breaths, a hot bubble bath, sing it out loud, a big fat real laugh.. Whatever gives you instant relief from your thoughts, fears and doubts.
These small things are the greatest medicine.
But remember: once the storm has gone, there’s a world of opportunities waiting for you where only “the sky is the limit”.
Quick recap of the steps
- identify your concerns and name them
- embrace your emotions and learn how to process them
- Talk to someone and seek the support of whose who’ve been there
- Find new opportunities
- The 3 Ls: Leave the past, Live the present, Look at the future
After these 5 simple steps I promise you that you’ll feel reborn and, what’s most important, in the process you might also find a way to help others too (if that makes you happy). You can do this!
P.S.= don’t forget to download my “5 survival tricks for expat mamas” filling out the form below (you’ll also receive another freebie extra for tired mamas) and, if you liked this article feel free to share it! 🙂