Life is ever-changing. There are many situations that have the potential to move our lives in another direction. I have found that there are five stressful situations that are completely life changing – the very nature of them turns your life upside down. I call these the 5Ds and when you go through one of these your life is forever changed. These events are Death, Divorce, Dumped Downsized and Diagnosis. The one common thread between all of these is they result in you suffering a loss that is significant, so significant that you are forced to reevaluate your life. This week I want to talk about how these five stressful situations change your life forever, the good news is, how they change your life is up to you!
When we go through the loss of a loved one, our lives are inevitably turned upside down. In this case, there is the expected grieving process, (which I have talked about in other blogs), and then there is the inevitable need to redefine your life without that person being a part of it. This is a scary step, looking forward and realizing your loved one will not physically be there. In my personal situation, all my future plans were no longer a possibility, at least not in the way I had been planning, as they were all tied to my husband. This is the case, to some degree, I believe most deaths. When a loved one passes on, all the future plans that were envisioned with them are just gone! This can be extremely hard to adjust to and I feel that, in my case, that was one of the hardest things to reconcile. I had to rebuild a whole new life without my husband. If you have been through the death of a loved one I am sure you can relate to this confusion and apprehension about the unknown future.
Dumped or Divorced
The second D’s kind of go together – Divorce and Dumped. I class these two together because they are similar in the nature of the loss, loss of a significant relationship. When you have gone through these D’s, life is again all a mystery. Supporting clients through the rebuilding process after the end of their significant relationship, I have found that not only do they have to rebuild their lives without their partner, they also have feelings of betrayal, trust and judgement to cope with. Sometimes they are even forced, for family reasons, to face the other person on a regular basis. Therefore, not only are they going through the grieving process for the loss of their relationship they also are dealing with a lot of self-doubt in the form of ‘should haves’ and ‘could haves’. The rebuilding process for someone who has gone through this type of loss inevitably travels through a path of forgiveness (at some level) – forgiveness for themselves and the other person, which can be extremely difficult.
This D involves the loss of a job. This may not seem like much for someone who has not gone through it but losing our job is incredibly stressful. We spend a lot of our time and energy at our work. This means that for most of us, it is not only a job and a paycheck that we have lost, but also our social and self-identities which are intricately tied to our vocation. Think about it. For most of us even if our day ends at 5:00 we can still be caught thinking about that upcoming project, that client or that sales pitch late into the evening. Also, because we spend so much time at work we have associates there that we socialize with. When we lose our job we not only need to find another job we are also forced to redefine ourselves socially and reevaluate our self-identity, too. This can be very difficult especially if the downsizing came as a surprise or if we don’t have an explanation for why it happened. We inevitably start to question our abilities. This questioning then leads to a lot of self-doubt which is very stressful!
The last D is . A diagnosis means the loss of our state of health. To whatever degree doesn’t matter, we go from a good state of health to a worse state of health. This is not just physical diagnoses but mental diagnoses also. When we receive a diagnosis, there is an adjustment period, where you question “Why me?”. This is natural!
Whatever the diagnosis may be, we have important choices for our future that need to be made, and this is extremely stressful! The choices we make affect all areas of our life. When my husband went through this, he grieved for the loss of his well-being, he tried to make sense of the situation, he moved through the feelings of helplessness. After this adjustment, he moved into a place of empowerment where he took active steps to work within his diagnosis. The journey for someone who has gone through this D is a path paved through a redesigning of your life that will best work towards your health goals.
Although all of these losses are different on the surface, they are very similar in the paths to rebuild. All of these D’s impact every area of our life. Whether the loss is family, career or health, every other area of your life is inevitably impacted too! That is why these five situations are so stressful! Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, no “one size fits all” solution that will return your life to balance. This is why everyone’s journey looks very different and involves completely different roads. The only similarity is that they involve the complete rebuilding of your life.
In my experience, my best advice for any of you who are going through one of these D’s is, this is an opportune time to get to know yourself intimately! It is an invitation for you to understand who you are, authentically! If you are up for this deep dive into yourself the rewards are endless. When you understand who you are and when it comes to the rebuilding of your life ‘post-D’, you will be able to rebuild a life that suits you, that excites you, a life that you are passionate about. I am not going to lie, this is not an easy path, but it is not as difficult as most of us imagine and it is well worth the effort! If you are ready, a good first step on this path is to journal around the questions of who you really are and what you really want! Once you get this clarity, the next steps become much easier!