"Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail" - Charles F. Kettering

Monday, March 10, 2014

Relax, Nothing Is Under Control

I have heard many times of people who get lost when faced with a major life changing event.  I have felt myself that way many times.  In all cases I eventually found myself, which gives me confidence I can consistently overcome it.  Nonetheless, when it happens it’s painful.

That feeling of emptiness in your chest, lack of motivation to do even the things you like, wanting to stay quiet and isolated, sadness and no direction to go.  How to get out of it?

(Side note: that’s a perfect time to write a story.  The suffering is a greatly inspiring tool to write something deep and dramatic).

I observe this very often when people retire or are let go, in empty nesters, in broken relationships, when one is living someone else’s dreams, etc.  The common place in all those situations is a temporary lack of a meaningful goal in life.

I’ll share my own recent story as an example.  For half of my life I dedicated myself to create a family and be able to give them a solid foundation that would make our lives better.  This was such a powerful intent that any sacrifice seemed minor.  Moving away from my parents and siblings, my culture and everything else I had was somewhat easy.  I did everything that I deemed required to support that goal.

Then, without much notice my marriage was over, my kids taken away from my daily life.  All of a sudden all the sacrifice that seemed minor before became a big question mark.  I was stuck in a place with no family.  My kids were away, my mother and siblings much farther away.  The natural question in my mind was: what do a do now?  All the things I was doing were in support to a goal that no longer existed.  That’s why everything felt empty.  The goal is what fills our hearts.  Once it’s over the only thing that remains is the empty skeleton we built around to support it.

The only solution is to find a new meaningful goal.  The trick is that during a period of time we will long for that lost goal that was filling our hearts, providing motivation to our brains and energy to our bodies.  You take that away and it will work as a power switch.  It will shut down everything else.

What can I do to change that situation?

In the beginning we will only see all the reasons why we can’t change.  Over time you start to find little things here and there that will try to spark the fire within.  Similar to a car engine that doesn’t run for a long time those small sparks may not get it going.  Like the dormant car engine there will be some care required for the spark to get it rolling: cleaning, oil, battery, fuel.  That’s where you must take control.
Sparks are free and happen all the time around you.  Prepare to leverage them:
  1. Care for your visual: my grandma always told us to look nice, clean and well dressed.  She said it was even more important when we were not feeling good.  The act of taking care of your look and the visual cues coming from it will re-energize you.  She was right.
  2. Do more of the things that make you feel good: think about those things that every time you do you feel better.  One rule applies though: they must be healthy!  Many times they are the simplest things like going to the movies, calling a friend, yoga, dancing, listening to music, etc.
  3. Do less of the things you don’t like: or even stop them completely if possible.  There are many things we don’t like that we can’t stop but we can definitely reduce or plan to reduce.
  4. Care for your body: stay active, move, eat well.
  5. Care for your mind and spirit: pray and meditate.  Be patient with yourself.  Do yoga, which will take care of body, mind and spirit at the same time.
These 5 steps will get you ready to your next big thing.  When you least expect you’ll start noticing all these opportunities around you.  Your engine will be ready and these sparks will make it roll.  From there just enjoy the ride again.

As for me, life gave me Sara, my wife and soul mate, a great stepson, awesome extended family, and a new home.  I stay as close to my kids as humanly possible, trying to learn there are things I'll never control.  As I read the other day "Relax, nothing is under control".


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Vinicius da Costa has almost 46 years of experience in life ;-), teaches at and helps building Synergy Yoga & Wellness into a place you feel good and welcomed to grow your yoga journey.