How to Survive Chaos

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of so many events and situations that you had trouble sorting out what you needed to think about first?  I seem to find myself in this situation often, more often than I want to admit.  In helping others, I find that it happens more frequently than anyone would like to admit.  No matter how many hats you wear, surviving chaos seems to be a needed skill these days for most Americans.  We seem to wear more hats these days than ever before, like wife/husband, mother/father, co-worker, daughter/son, friend, family member, customer, mentor, educator, and so many others.  Sometimes, all the hats become overwhelming and if you are not careful, chaos happens.  So to survive, think about the following questions

Is the chaos self-inflicted?

When you think about the situation in which you find yourself, did you create it?  Many situations are self-inflicted, mostly because many people can’t say no when asked to do something.  If the chaos is self-inflicted, it might be easier to manage, since you generally have control over it.  If it’s because you can’t say no, think about all the hats that you are wearing and determine which are the most important, and consider some that you need to hang up some of your hats, at least for a while.  We have talked about this before, but it’s warrants talking about it again.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things to worry about.  It’s not good for your health, or the health of your relationships with people important to you.

Do I want to change it?

Some people thrive on chaos.  It helps their creative juices, and gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  I have worked with people who need the chaos, at least at times, to feel alive.  If that’s the case, we work on how to manage it in a way that is not overwhelming.  If you want to change it, try to determine how you end up in chaos.  Sometimes, it seemed like a good idea to begin with but it got out of hand.  Think about what you would like to be different, and work on a plan to change it.  We do have more control over how our lives move forward than we understand at time, and if you would like to make changes you can.  If you need help, get help to develop a plan.  If you can develop a plan, start small.  Small steps lead to running.

Is the chaos temporary?

Sometimes things get crazy due to things beyond our control.  Sometimes chaos begins due to a death, loss of a job, divorce, or other events.  If the chaos if not self-inflicted, remember that temporary means it will get better with time.  Loss is never easy, and the death of a loved one takes time to understand the new reality, but you can adjust.
The loss of a job can throw you into chaos, and cause fear of the future, but regrouping and refocus can help you return to work, and even possibly make things better.  If the chaos is temporary or a transition, just remember that it will end, and work on moving forward.

How can you learn from chaos?

Getting into situations creates opportunities for review and learning.  You can learn ways to avoid chaos in the future, and stay out of situations that can turn to chaos.  When working with clients, we talk about events that lead up to the situation in which they find themselves.  Understanding how you got there, can help you understand how to do things differently in the future.  For instance, if you have trouble saying no when people ask for help, you may find yourself taken advantage of, and in situations that threaten your future.  I have worked with many people, who “loaned” money to relatives, and ended up in financial chaos as a result.  Learn from past event, to make the future less stressful.

The most important lesson is that chaos can be managed, and you can survive.  Find support if you need it, but do some self-reflection and ask yourself the above questions.  The answers can help you change your life, and help you stay focused on staying happy, for life.