Last month, I went through the challenge of revisiting my past.
I was in my parents’ home, empty of people but full of stuff—and memories.
The journey had the potential to be a disaster. It could’ve thrown me into a downward spiral of anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
But it didn’t, thanks to my family and friends who helped and supported me along the way, as well as my “can do” mindset – the result of months of mental preparation.
Am I tired?
Exhausted, to be honest, but good.
I returned home richer with memories and valuable experiences to share with you.
Is 2+2 Always 4?
Sometimes we think that we’re right–until we’re proven wrong. Other times, we doubt our decisions, but they turn out to be wildly successful.
Life makes corrections so we can learn. It also reminds us that we aren’t infallible. We are human.
Here’s what worked for me.
Make it your project.
A rebel part of me dislikes making promises. I’d rather do what I want, in my own way. When someone tries to make me do something—even if I’m trying to force myself—I might “forget” to do it.
By making this challenge my own project, I felt both like a creator and a manager.
I was in charge, and the rebel could have a rest.
Unlike polarized magnets, charging your soul with positivity will attract positivity to you.
On this trip, I found pictures I hadn’t seen before – my parents smiling at each other. Still in love.
I stumbled upon my mother’s journals and unsent letters, full of love. They were written to me!
I was smiling sorting mom’s dinnerware, knick-knacks, and clothes and reading inscriptions inside the books she gave me for my birthdays when I was little.
No matter what I did, my brain kept bubbling over with good memories I had forgotten.
Have a plan.
Combining my duties with pleasurable pastimes was a part of the plan. It helped to neutralize sadness, worries, and bad feelings. Those fun diversions boosted my energy and kept me in a good mood.
My to-do list was too ambitious, though, so I had to give up a few things.
Make your plans realistic – it’s healthier!
Taking regular breaks and practicing gratitude were great tools I used all the time. They’re staying on my list.
Here’s what didn’t work for me.
Pick a joyful task as your primary goal.
The task I chose was writing every morning so I would have an article ready at the end of my stay, but it didn’t work. Why?
My mind was speeding around looking for ways to get things done. I couldn’t focus on writing, and I couldn’t cheat myself into believing that I came to Moscow to write an article.
I had to let that plan go.
Maintain the usual routine.
Writing first thing in the morning is my usual routine, as is physical exercise a few times a week.
But my favorite fitness outfit that I had planned to use in my friend’s fitness club stayed in a suitcase—my body already ached from emptying cabinets and bookshelves, cleaning, and moving stuff!
When you’re on a challenging mission, you must expect your daily routine to change.
And here are my bonus lessons.
Dealing with tough issues, don’t expect dissociation to go away.
Ignore it and do what you are supposed to do. It is there to protect you, not harm you.
The level of my DPDR hasn’t changed, which is good. Distancing from the reality helped me to prevent an emotional overwhelm by holding its wings around me like an old friend.We can deal with dissociation when the time is right.Click To Tweet
Don’t hesitate to ask people for help.
Tell people what you need and ask if they can help you.
Whether it’s a phone number to a trusted company, some advice to ease your mind, or a lift to a tax office, ask for what you need to help you to move forward.
Preparation pays off.
Mental preparation for a challenging task makes the difference between surviving and thriving—and just surviving sucks, as we all know.
For me, preparation transformed a potential disaster into a time-travel and soul-searching, both rich in memories and terrific experiences.
Here is your updated List
Stronger Than Before
When you approach your challenge with a positive, “can do” mindset and plan, you will enjoy the ride like a surfer riding wall-high, dangerous waves.
“This “can do” mindset, which acts as the foundation for a positive reaction to crises, creates a positive “lens” through which you look at the crisis and also gives you confidence in your ability to overcome the hurdles that the crisis presents to you.”- Jim Taylor, Ph.D.
And you will become a stronger person than you have been before.
Do it because
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Images by Caroline Hernandez, Unsplash; Pixabay, and Irina