5 Ways to Be a Grown-Up When Shit Hits the Fan

The week before A Wild New Work started, a lot of weird, gnarly, frustrating things happened. People from my past showed up, clients were having emergencies and cancelling, I broke out in a rash…I could go on.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantIt was an abnormally difficult week, and it literally felt like someone had thrown poo into a fan and it was shooting out over every aspect of my life.

I believe in energy, which means that I believe our actions have consequences – often unintended ones. I don’t believe all of the things coming up that week were “my fault,” but I’ve noticed that interesting things always happen before I start a big, important thing in my life.

With A Wild New Work, I was staking a claim and starting a group workshop that I knew I had to do. That’s powerful stuff, and I think it reverberated in good ways and uncomfortable ways – hence, shit + fan.

It’s hard to be a grown-up when things keep coming up that just feel so frustrating, overwhelming, and uncontrollable. It’s much easier to revert back to our childhood and wail on the floor about how unfair it all is, even though that doesn’t help us in any way.

Something had my back that week, though, because I kept coming across books and articles by grown-ass people who showed me how to be like them amidst what felt like total chaos.

I tried their methods, and I’m happy to report that this was my most graceful handling of a horrible week so far.

So I want to share the five major tools that people like Glennon Doyle Melton, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Steven Pressfield taught me about how to be an enlightened adult when things get rough:

First, you need to accept what’s happening. Things get much, much harder if you’re fighting the fact that someone is throwing shit through the fan. They just are, and it’s not always something you can turn off. So here you are, crying on the bathroom floor, or screaming at the person who cut you off on the freeway, and you just have to be there for a minute. No one deserves a happy, easy life all of the time, and you can get through this as long as you accept what’s going on and intend to see it through with grace.

You get to decide how you respond to the things showing up in your life right now.

megan leatherman career coach and human resources consultantSecond, you need to take care of your body. This will not get better if you’re exhausted, hungry, or in a ton of pain because you haven’t moved your body in 48 hours. Now is the time to take an extra 30 minutes to do a yoga video at home, drink lots of water, go for a walk, or get some fancy healthy food in your stomach. You’ll be able to think and feel much more clearly.

Third, rally support. It’s not helpful to go into a long, circuitous tirade about how unfair everything in life is, but it is helpful to ask for help from the people who love you. Tell them what’s going on. Ask them to light a candle for you. Take a sick day and let your co-worker cover. Ask for what you need like a grown-up and, if it feels right, humbly accept the help that’s offered.

Fourth, stay still. Don’t make any sudden movements. No major decisions should be made in crisis mode unless a decision is what’s needed to get you out of it. In my experience recently, there was nothing that needed to change that week, even though I wanted to overreact to the difficulties and completely switch up what I’m doing in life. But that wasn’t the time, because those changes would have been reactive and made just because I was uncomfortable.

Stay still and get quiet. Watch what’s happening, journal like hell, and hold your heart.

Finally, practice gratitude like it’s nobody’s business. Gratitude snaps you out of temper tantrum mode and gets you grounded again. You don’t have to be grateful for everything, and it’s really important that expressing gratitude feels authentic to you, even if it’s hard at first. You can be grateful for your next breath, or the water you’re drinking, or the fact that you have heat in your home. Find the things to be grateful for – they’re there even when it feels like everything is falling apart.

Sometimes chaos enters our life to show us what really matters again. It’s uncomfortable and wildly inconvenient, but we always have the ability to choose how we will respond to its presence.

People who have their shit together inside when the world around them is in upheaval are the ones who will learn, adapt, and transform through the chaos.

We can all be those grown-ass people if we stay grounded, healthy, accepting of support, still, and grateful.

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