Updated: Apr 3, 2020
I feel 'stuck' and like I just can't pull it back together. (Aka -- how to get back in control of your life) -- especially since the coronavirus outbreak.
I received this (not-uncommon) email from a struggling mom (which is even more applicable since the coronavirus outbreak):
"I am having a really hard time right now. My baby is almost a year old, and I feel like I just can’t pull it back together. I’m trying to homeschool the other kids...
I feel like my life is out of my control. I recognize that that cannot be true. But that is how I feel. I know I can only control myself, but that also feels out of my capability. I need to meet my baby’s needs, my husband’s needs, and they have hijacked my goals. I’m feeling stuck. Any perspective?"
First, yes, it is hard. But that's normal.
I know this isn't a news flash, but you're going to have a hard time. Life is not meant to be easy. [Dealing with times of crisis is not easy]. Having kids is challenging. You know that.
But just because it's hard doesn't mean it can't get better.
However, the ONLY way things (your circumstances) will get better is if YOU get better. That's it. There is no other formula. There is no other solution.
Someone once approached Brian Tracy at a conference after he spoke, complaining that his life sucked. He replied, "That is because YOU suck, sir."
With all the love possible, my husband and I half-jokingly tell each other this when the going gets hard -- "It's because you suck. :)"
[Even struggling to deal with this crisis is because I suck at 'crisis management' skills.]
It might seem harsh or unpopular, but it's really one of the best things each of us can admit about ourselves -- we suck.
But this is a good thing! Once we identify where we suck then we know exactly where to focus our efforts for improvement. We know exactly what to work on that will make the biggest difference in our overall life happiness.
In one or more areas of our life -- usually in the 'pain points' -- we just suck.
That's why it's hard. That's why there's pain. Pain is a sign that there is a problem and something needs to be fixed, learned, improved, repaired, or healed.
So (with tons of love) I tell you (like I tell myself), "Things are hard because your household management skills suck, or your family leadership skills suck, or your sleep skills suck, or your diplomacy at conflict resolution sucks."
When we get better then life will be easier. If things are hard it is simply a sign that we need to become stronger and better.
Life doesn't get easier. We just get stronger.
Next, if your life feels out of control it's because you're not controlling yourself.
You are right, the only thing you can control is yourself. But just because we have the power to control ourselves doesn't mean we are exercising it the right way.
If your life feels out of control it probably is. That's not desirable or normal (meaning being 'out of control' should be an acute, not chronic, condition).
The way to get it back under control (and to stop feeling resentment towards your husband and children) starts with learning to better control yourself.
Except in extreme conditions (like being in a concentration camp), your circumstances will improve as you increase your personal control.
On the other hand, as long as you are out of control of yourself, your life will be out of control. You can't control your life until you actively control yourself.
Learn to control yourself and you will have learned to control your life (and to influence, direct, and lead your family members, including your husband.)
Yes, you are ALREADY controlling yourself. You are just making decisions that result in self-sabotage. That's why you FEEL like you have no control.
You may feel that you are being 'hijacked' or that you 'don't have a choice' because of the demands of husband, children, baby, housework...
But ultimately YOU get to decide WHERE and on WHAT you spend your time and energy. No one else but you can make that choice.
If you lack a VISION of what you WANT your life to be like then it's difficult to act toward achieving it.
Get the VISION and then create the 'ideal' schedule. Decide what habits or goals you want to work on and then track them every day. That is the beginning of 'self-control'.
Of course, you won't achieve the ideal or check everything off every day, but it provides a 'standard' that you can always come back to. It's the starting and returning point no matter the chaos that life throws at you.
And I'm not being unsympathetic here. Trust me, I get it. Sometimes there is LEGITIMATE 'hijacking' going on. The baby wakes you up during the night or is sick, or your husband's work schedule is out of your control.
[Sometimes the world is turned upside down and you're dealing with a crisis and you're trying to manage lots of fear and anxiety.]
But there is still PLENTY within your control. You can catch up on your rest and THEN get back to your goals (ideal schedule). You can learn what your husband's schedule is for THAT DAY and then make adjustments to your own schedule.
[You can still make the most of this time and make the most of yourself.]
That is true control.
Another thing that helped me was to start thinking of my goals weekly instead of daily -- maybe you can't work on all of your goals every day, but during the week you can devote a portion of time to each of them. This is how high-performing women 'do it all'.
I used to not believe this but it is true -- There is MORE than enough time to meet everyone's needs including your own if you are strategic and you clearly define what your priorities are and then MAKE them actual priorities (by devoting time to them).
And the best way to meet your family's needs is to FIRST take care of your own needs and WANTS.
If you don't take care of yourself FIRST than there you are less capable to care for your family. If you feel that you have unmet needs (from your spouse or your children) the cause is because YOU are not meeting your own needs.
In fact, I now know that it's selfish to NOT take care of yourself because it means you're less capable to serve and take care of those around you.
Teach your children that 'mommy is a person too' and she has needs and wants just like her children do. Tell them what you're doing and WHY. Set the example for self-care.
You can't draw from an empty well. If you feel that you have nothing to give it's because you have nothing inside. Fill yourself FIRST and then you can give to others.
Just like we're instructed by the stewardess when we fly, you have to put on your oxygen mask first before you can help anyone else.
Click here if you would like to receive further training on developing self-control and self-trust through tracking your habits.
The Extraordinary Life Planner can help you get a VISION of what you want your life to look like, and to set attainable 12-week goals. (Long-term goals help you to get through short-term crises.)
You can also watch this free resource to help anchor your family during this crisis.
And you can also join us for a live monthly group coaching to train and prepare yourself and your family to get through this crazy time -- learn to stop managing and start LEADING your family.