6 coping mechanisms for a disruptive life.
“In a world or change we seek for security. The safety we need comes not from the world – peace can only be created from within.” ~ Maria Lehtman
Living in organized chaos.
My desk is a nightmare to most people. Piles of paper, pens, printers, scanners, tape, stones (semi-precious ones typically..), books, clippings, stickers, stamps…. everything you need to create a last minute special greeting card, print out a photo, write a note.
In the middle of it all a high-resolution screen, a laptop and a mobile.
I hate chaos at home. It stops me from thinking, creating, focusing. Oddly enough – it never stopped me from working at my creatively chaotic desk. If I clean it, everything will sneak back in a matter of days. So I leave it be. It saves time trying to search it all out again.
Why do we need both chaos and order? Looking at the universe from where we are, it seems that the stars are sprinkled all over the place. Yet, we know that every pattern of the sky has a precise rule.
A time of disruption.
Looking at the news we are confronted with disruption everywhere. There are no safe corners in the world near or far. People are scared to gather in places. It seems that spreading anxiety is working very effectively in digital times. And yet, do we really know what it felt like to wait for news of family members when they traveled to other city or country 200 years ago. What was it like to wait two months for a letter. Waiting must have been agony. Somehow people survived even so. Everything has a frame of reference.
Is the world more disorganized than before? Or are we simply picking up the signals more quickly and widely? If so, what can we do to adjust? Today’s digitalization creates an expectation. We must be reached anywhere at any time. Lack of communication creates anxiety. Our threshold has been set for an ‘immediate-response world’.
Living with a rapid change cycle is the new rule. There are ways to cope with the new set of rules although they may seem odd at first. Ideally, every person has their own coping mechanism. For most people, my desk is a source of anxiety. For me, the chaos has a purpose. I know where to look for the material that I need when I need it.
The secret is finding order in chaos and creativity in order.
Coping mechanisms for a disruptive life.
1. Identify sources of anxiety. There is a pattern in everything we experience. If we have a repeating situation that causes anxiety it tends to escalate. The symptom becomes a disease. Most people never realize they are in that cycle before it is too late – they start to act extremely emotionally. Emotions have a purpose, a task. Continuous negative emotions are not the tool, they are a result of an unresolved issue. Identify sources of anxiety, patterns.
2. Stop the press. I mean literally: stop the press. When you find sources or anxiety and disruption – try to put an end to the cycle. It is not easy, and some things take time. We are very often blind to how sources of anxiety affect us, and how far we are from the right balance. As an example, when I need to recover from illness, I stop reading news headlines. The approach in media today is to report headlines that sell and attract people. Chaos attracts attention. Our nervous system picks up the signals and interprets a threat. Our body reacts and creates a level of unnecessary stress.
3. Create order. Even the most disorganized issue can come to order. I have spent most of my career taking hold of situations that required organization and disciplined approach. Someone once introduced me to a new colleague saying: “This is the lady who will fix all your hurdles after you make a sale.” That one sentence just about summed up my whole career. Years later I learned to apply that skill also better in my private life. Organizational skills come naturally to others, but everyone can learn them. Time management and setting priorities are critical first steps.
4. Accept the imperfect. If you try to fix it all – you will never rest. The key to a happier life is to accept flaws, in yourself and in others. What may seem imperfect at the beginning may prove to be necessary at the end. I often hear people saying they need to complete ‘this’ before doing ‘that’. I do the same. And I find myself never starting. As an example, there are many reasons not to write. One of them is that I need to research every topic I write about, for hours.
This blog is the result of another kind of research – one that relies on personal information and experience. I could wait to quote the masters of the universe in every field. I choose to practice the skill itself.
5. Have mercy on yourself. People can be brutal. Usually to themselves, and that is further reflected on others. We set expectations without understanding the circumstance of our counterpart. When things are not going the way you like, start to ask open questions: what, why, how… Very often the responses may surprise you. I never regretted doing that even when things were hectic and deadlines closing in.
A number of times I stopped myself from presenting critique and asked what was happening. In many cases, people were completely panicked of being late, of letting someone down. The reasons were valid – someone’s spouse was in a car accident, another one lost their PC (stolen) or it crashed during the night… the fear of a failure should never interfere being professional and human – to ourselves and to others.
6. Check your parameters. The image taken in a shopping mall in Milan reminds me that we need to look up every once in a while. We are often too busy to dwell on the past, worry about the future, anticipate the worst to see what is really around us. Stargazing physically and mentally is a healthy exercise. Look for other perspectives.
Consider that you were looking at your situation from above – what interconnections do you see? Where does your energy flow? Do you sustain enough perspective to be present and current? Can someone mentor you to find another angle? I typically try to consider issues from every degree and when failing to find a suitable solution, I take it back to the source. Eventually, a solution will present itself.
In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order. ~ Carl Jung
Wishing you all a happy end of the week!
Ref. Weekly Photo-Challenge by Daily Post: Order.