Written by Dr. Eric Perry, PhD
Image Credit: Pixabay
“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” ~Gail Sheehy
We have all heard the expression that life can change in the blink of an eye. One moment you are skipping down the yellow brick road towards your happily ever after unaware that the paved road is about to turn to dirt. You work hard and feel that you are deserving of the life you have made for yourself. This sense of entitlement can relate to many areas in your life; including your job, relationship or a certain standard of living. In essence, you feel you have done everything right and are set on collecting your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The reality is that life is not predictable. The outcomes in your life are not based on a merit system. In what seems like an instant you can wake up and find yourself in a life you no longer recognize. The loving partner that once stood by your side can become a stranger overnight. In a moments notice your employer can decide to replace you. Sickness and death can instantly appear and change your life forever.
It is important to note that often the life-changing moment that has crashed into your life like a huge boulder through the roof of your home, started as a pebble. The routine experiences of life have a way of lulling us into a sort of daydream that we expect to last forever. Day in and day out as we cohabitate with our loved ones, we may begin to lose sight of one another. We may even forget to appreciate and respect each other. The once special shared moments may soon be replaced by the tedious details of everyday life. Unexpressed anger and resentments may soon occupy the place that once stored love and kindness.
The daily jobs that we were so proud of may quickly become routine and burdensome. We may go from moment to moment unaware or forgetting that life is not always so routine and predictable. We blindly go forward forgetting to pause and check in on the health of our lives. We need to occasionally stop and assess our personal health, the health of our relationships, employment and life in general. Life is not a daydream. You must be fully awake to truly experience life.
Moments like this have the ability to stop time for an instant. Suspended in time, the shock of the experience will leave you speechless and unable to think clearly. You soon realize that your life will never be the same. This moment has the power to change the course of your life. It is up to you whether the long term outcome is positive or negative.
After experiencing such a powerful moment, it is important that you give yourself time to process your emotions. You may immediately feel a range of emotions such as anger, fear, rage despair, confusion or grief. Allow yourself to feel these emotions fully, as long as you are not placing yourself in personal danger. Do not judge your emotions, just let them be. If you need to cry and grieve the loss of your relationship, job or other circumstance, do so. The loss may feel much like the death of a loved one. Heartache is one of the most difficult emotions. You are not only mourning the loss of the person, job or circumstance, but you are also mourning the loss of the person you use to be.
You can begin to accept the power of the moment after you have had time to go through and process the different emotions. The pain you have experienced, which has taken you off your course, may result in a powerful and transformative change in your life. Emotional pain has the ability to soften you so that you are able to receive the gifts that life has to offer. Going through these life-changing moments will allow you to gain invaluable empathy towards your fellow human. Only by experiencing own heartbreak will you know the depths of this emotional pain and be able to help others in similar situations.
It is important that during this time of emotional upheaval you surround yourself with friends and loved ones. For example, if you have suddenly lost your job you may feel defeated and worthless. By having loved ones around, they can remind you that you are more than your job. You have not lost value in their eyes just because you are unemployed.
After a healthy amount of time has passed it is important to continue engaging with the outside world. Do not isolate yourself. Human interaction is important in that it allows us to feel we are part of a larger community and reminds us that we are not alone. Interacting with others will remind you that we all suffer pain and loss. Experiencing failures in life are what make us human. We begin our lives as babies who stumble and fall repeatedly as we attempt to stand on our own. Each failure strengthens our legs and our will power.
Sometimes we fall short in life. The relationship that was meant to last forever fades away. The dream job can turn into a nightmare. Your perfect health can vanish and leave you dependent on others. Acceptance that this is part of life and not something bad that has happened to you will help you realize that we all will experience life-changing moments in our lifetime. Often times, these “bad” experiences turn out to be roadblocks that were keeping us from continuing down the wrong path.
I would love to hear from you. Have you had a life-changing moment that changed the course of your life?
The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a therapeutic relationship with the reader nor are they meant to be used for self-diagnosis. This write up is not all-inclusive and is only meant to provoke curiosity on the subject. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a mental health professional.
Please note, I am unable to answer your specific mental health or psychology-related questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
M.A. in Clinical Psychology
B.A. in Psychology
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