Health & Wellness

When things fall apart

Teenage boy looking at his phone with friends nearby

How to stay steady when it feels like the world is against you.

Some days, it seems the world is out to get you. Your kid gets sick the day of an important meeting. The car won’t start. The coffee pot just knew you were running late when it jumped out of your hands and leapt to its death on the tile floor, didn’t it?

But the next time you feel put off by any of life’s large and small indignities, take a breath. Feel your feet making contact with the ground and bring your full attention to your body right there in the midst of the chaos. This simple way to interrupt a freak-out moment could be the difference between getting trapped in an emotional tailspin and finding a little humor in the situation.

Still, if your habit is to yell and hit the horn when someone cuts you off in traffic, it might not be that easy to change your reactions. The truth is, humans can be emotional firecrackers. Just when you think you’ve nipped the habit of overreacting, something, someone will get you riled up again.

That’s what habits do. When you remember this, you regain your footing. From there, you can take a deep breath, show yourself a little compassion, and start again.

Try this: Make a list of your usual triggers and reactions. Carry it in your wallet. Come to know your list intimately. You might discover yourself getting tripped up by the same things over and over — and when you can see that, you are better equipped to make a fresh choice.

Consider this: It takes practice to be able to take things less personally. It takes practice to see the delicious-looking worm hiding the hook and choose not to bite. And most of all, it takes practice to be kind to ourselves, staying present to the entire unfolding show: one breath, one thought, one choice at a time.

 

This copyrighted information is courtesy of Mindful.org and psychotherapist Elaine Smookler.

Reviewed by Kaiser Permanente Clinical Ambassadors, including Mark Dreskin, MD, Sharon Smith, LPC, and/or David Kane, LCSW. September 2018.


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This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.


Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage, Summary Plan Description or other coverage documents. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.