Dealing with difficult life changes? - Kseniya Leonova
As I sit here planning on how to begin my first blog for Hijabvisers; I find myself thinking about my own life and where I am at right now. Currently, I feel like I have been stuck with my life for some time, and for some reason it has become so hard to pull myself out of this hole I’m in. Looking back at my past, I notice there has been a recurring pattern, one of heartache and difficult life changes. It seems that the good times in my life have never stayed with me for long, and I would often soon find myself seeking shelter from the storm that would quickly disrupt my life and turn my world upside down.
At times like these I also tend to notice that I begin to feel sorry myself, not necessarily in a bad way, but sometimes we can’t help but feel that we are the only one’s dealing with our problems and no one else understands. And this is partly true, we ARE the only ones dealing with our problems in life, no one else is going to deal with our problems for us, but that doesn’t mean that someone else isn’t dealing with a similar problem to ours.
I can recall so many conversations with my girlfriends when I think about difficult life changes; all the talks about heart break and family problems, personal struggles and life troubles, the death of loved ones and other difficult changes from which we have had to learn to adjust. And what I have noticed about all these life changes, is that whether you have just separated from your partner/spouse, have lost someone you love, or are faced with a life changing circumstance, all of these life changes have something interesting in common. No matter how different our individual problems are from those around us, these changes in life go hand in hand with Loss. Whenever we are dealing with a difficult change, it not only knocks us off our feet but it also takes something away from us; someone we love, a job that we relied on, our happiness, even our health. They say that time heals all wounds, but what can heal the Loss of something if it can’t be brought back? How do we move on from all the what if’s and maybe’s and the knowledge that we can never go back to the way our life was before because of this thing that has happened to us now?
Part of our human nature is that we require stability and certainty in our lives; we need to know that our family will always be there when we need them, that our partner will always support us, that our children will never abandon us, we need to know that we will continue to have a roof over our heads and food on the table to eat and a job from which to earn an income, because as soon as this certainty and stability has been snatched away from us we then lose our sense of direction. When tragedy hits our lives we are faced with the questions of ‘What will happen now?’, ‘Where do I go from here?’ and ‘What am I supposed to do?’. And the truth is that we don’t know the answer to many of these questions, simply because we can’t see into the future and know precisely what’s to come. We can’t see past our bad situation today because now that our hearts are hurting it’s hard to see ourselves smiling when tomorrow comes. And not only do we begin to question our future, we also start to question our past; “Why did this happen to me?”, “Was this my fault?”, “What if I had done something differently?” along with many more similar questions. It’s no wonder that we find ourselves stuck when our mind is still battling with the past AND questioning the future, it just isn’t possible to move on from the spot in which we find ourselves stuck in.
And thus, we begin to fall into a state of despair, a place where we find ourselves incapable of moving on with our lives and of leaving the past behind.
So, how exactly do we get ourselves up and out of this deep, dark place we are lost in? I know that I have heard others say too often “Just leave the past behind, move on with your life! You can’t dwell on your misery all the time”, and I think to myself – ok, sure thing, but that’s easier said than done!. Not only is it a hard thing to do, but it still leaves the bigger question of exactly how do we do this? We all know that we shouldn’t focus on the past and we should live for today and prepare for tomorrow, we have known this ever since we were young enough to understand it, but how do we do this?
Before I continue talking about this, I want to remind everyone that the first place to seek for help is that of Allah (swt). I won’t go into too much detail here as I know that we are all aware of the power of prayer and making Dua’a. When life knocks us down on our knees we know that this is the perfect position to turn our heads upwards and pray to Him for guidance. What I want to talk to you about, are the ways in which you can actively make a change for yourself, things that you can do to improve your current situation.
We need to understand what exactly is holding us back, what is holding us from moving on and being happy, in order for us to change it. What is the real issue here? Just like I had said earlier, all these life changes have one thing in common, and that is the Loss of something. Something we held dear to us, whatever it may have been. What we really need to do here is acknowledge what has happened to us – because that is the loss we are dealing with. ‘Acknowledging’ the facts is the first step to moving forward.
So, think about what this means to you, what did you lose in your life recently? How has it changed things now? How do you feel knowing that you can never go back to your life before? You need to allow yourself the time to think about it, and allow yourself to feel whatever emotion this brings into your mind and body. A lot of the time we deny ourselves the right to feel our true emotions because we are afraid of how much hurt they will bring us when we reflect back on our problems. But, once you have acknowledged what has happened to you in your life, you can then take the time to ‘Grieve’ for yourself.
When I say this, I don’t mean that I want you to spend weeks and months feeling miserable and depressed, because this wouldn’t be productive at all. Instead, give yourself a limited amount of time where you will sit with your feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Think about how this difficult life change has affected you and your life, what sort of things did it take away from you? What thoughts and feelings come to mind when you think about your life before? Allow them to pass through you, because just as they have entered into your mind with your control, you are also able to remove them from your mind. By allowing yourself to do this, you are giving yourself control over your thoughts and feelings, and can easily sort through them one by one before putting them away safely in your mind. By giving yourself this limited time to grieve over what you have lost, you have ensured that there are no thoughts or feelings left behind that may creep up on you on days where you’re not feeling so good, and you will no longer have to deal with these thoughts and feelings all at once throughout the day or night.
The last stage to dealing with difficult life changes is ‘Acceptance’; being able to accept what you have lost and how things have changed. Being able to say to yourself; “I have lost something in my life and I can never go back”. It certainly is a difficult thing to do, but being able to accept our current circumstance allows us to leave our past behind, and realize that we can only move forward from here on. Knowing that we can’t change the past or go back to the way things used to be, and accepting that, allows us to release the hurt and pain associated with no longer having control over a situation. If we accept that we can’t control the past, then we can focus that energy on what we can control – our future. Once you have acknowledged your loss, and grieved for the ‘what could have been’, you can then start to accept ‘what will never be anymore’ in your life.
By acknowledging the past, grieving for the present, and accepting that the future has changed and remains unknown, only then will you be able to climb out of that dark hole you have fallen into. I know something like this can’t just improve over night, but it’s a learning process that we need to take ourselves through. Learning to take things one day at a time, and being able to stay in touch with your inner self, is all part of growing as a person and changing for the better from new experiences – whether these were good or bad. Once you have moved on with your life and are able to look back at those hard times in your past, you may just see all the good that has come out of it and see how much greater you have been succeeding in your life just because of it. Never underestimate the power of your self and the amazing things your mind and body are capable of.