Your life is collapsing into chaos, your entire world caving in on top of you.
One crisis after another, one setback too many, one blow too much — the weight of it all, unbearable.
The incessant worrying keeping you up at night? Or the constant crying? Neither one helps you cope with the chaos of life right now.
You thought this year would be different. Yet here you are: scared, stressed, and confused all at the same time.
Admit it. Your life is a complete disaster. Again.
You’ve hit rock bottom. Overwhelmed, you’re uncertain you can bounce back.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You can clean up the mess and turn your life around. You may not resolve everything, but you can deal with the essentials and get back to a place of calm and peace…
Then let’s get to it.
1. Clean house
Your external world is simply a reflection of your internal state. So, roll up your sleeves and prepare to tidy up the chaos of your life.
Studies show that de-cluttering your home and work environment also de-clutters the mind.
You’ve experienced this sensation before. When you organize your surroundings, a weight lifts from your shoulders, you breathe a huge sigh of relief, and your mind is instantly at peace.
Aim to eliminate everything unnecessary.
Keep whatever brings you joy, like Marie Kondo’s method. Or opt for an extreme revamping with a 21-day minimalist approach.
Above all, choose the best option for you and your situation, setting your own limit.
For example, decide to toss everything you haven’t used or touched in the last two years. Craft a SMART tidying goal and set a timer to stick to the task.
Plan small chunks of time to keep it simple. For instance, allot yourself twenty minutes and start with the kitchen. Go!
Less stuff means less mental overload. Also, a freer environment brings you the first, small win, a great accomplishment in times of total life chaos.
To keep overwhelm at bay, do one thing at a time. And only one.
If you check your phone, email, or Facebook feed while cleaning, how effective are you?
Studies show that multitasking negatively affects memory and productivity.
No wonder you felt confused.
Your concentration plays a key role here. Stay in the moment and dedicate short bursts of energy to each project. This includes making email, social feeds, and chat checking a daily appointment, separate from other tasks.
While you’re at it, decrease your Internet fix.
Did you know that we each spend over two hours a day on social media?
This year, limit yourself to thirty minutes daily. Additionally, shutting off your phone one day a week for a total Internet cleanse will reap the benefits of extra time and more clarity.
Worried people won’t find you in an emergency? Then switch your phone to “do not disturb,” and select only a few trusted people to call. While battling leukemia, I made two close friends my envoys for communicating with the outside world until I felt mentally and emotionally strong enough.
While life fragments into chaos, self-discipline combined with self-care can clean up the mess.
2. Mind the gap
Often, there’s a gap between our goals and our beliefs. As you move forward reorganizing your lifestyle, be mindful of life itself.
“Be impeccable with your word”
When your world spirals into mayhem, strive for excellent communication.
First, think before speaking. Then, take this one step further to build inner peace.
Don Miguel Ruiz promotes the art of communication as the first of four fundamental principles in his book The Four Agreements, “…because your word is the power you have to create.”
For Ruiz, words are seeds of “opinions, ideas, and concepts” that can enslave or free you. If you believe anything you say, think, or hear, you immediately make an agreement with yourself. Therefore, to build calmness and clarity, refrain from harsh language, gossip, and lying to others and to yourself.
Let’s say you’ve organized a day out with friends and feel great. Suddenly, there’s a mix-up with the reservation for your lunch date. You immediately believe you’re unorganized and a failure.
Why would you believe this?
Just as you cleaned house, clear out false, self-defeating talk to lessen your mental load.
During the same lunch, your friends gossip about another friend who isn’t present. Why would you buy it? How does it serve you and your friendship with her?
Hearsay is not the truth and judgment only clouds your thinking. The more corrupt your thoughts, the more befuddled you are.
Planting healthier seeds and making better agreements lay the groundwork for a calmer mind and mood.
Be impeccable with your time
“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get,” said the Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.
I know you feel lost in the chaos of life, but try staying still and doing absolutely nothing!
Taking small breaks out of your day to connect to your emotional and mental states calms your busy brain.
A walk in nature produces clarity. If you live in a city, take a fifteen-minute stroll through a park three times a week.
Have your own garden? Or is there an urban gardening project nearby? Again, fifteen to thirty minutes will suffice to understand and release any mind clutter adding to your confusion.
Alternatively, mindful activities such as meditation, yoga, qi gong, and tai chi will also release intellectual tension. Since recovering from leukemia, I’ve made guided meditation my morning routine before starting the day.
But beware. Don’t confuse mindfulness with procrastination. A growing self-awareness will increase your motivation and generate sound objectives and precise actions.
You will also begin to understand your true intentions.
Be impeccable with your intent
Perhaps your turmoil conflicts with your main calling. Often we feel overwhelmed when our beliefs clash with our core values.
For example, you need to finish a report for your boss by end of day. But your daughter’s dance recital is tonight, and you have to leave early. You anguish over this dilemma.
You might value family over work.
Or you might fret over providing for your family, which really throws you in a loop. Suddenly, family and work are on par.
What if you feel horrible because you’d much prefer to finish the report?
Do you know your main values?
Once you understand yourself better, these inner battles become easier to spot and resolve.
As you learn to live impeccably, you learn to surf the waves of inner conflict without getting caught up in the tsunami.
3. Illuminate the chaos of life
Now that you’ve simplified your outer and inner realms and increased your self-awareness, it’s time to identify the more subtle tricks we play on ourselves.
Is fear clouding your vision?
If your life chaos stems from the dread of failure, then you need to examine your feelings.
Let’s say you’re in a career change. And you’ve already accepted one offer when another one you didn’t expect arrives. Complete uncertainty strikes you.
At times, we fear making a mistake. Life comes to a halt and we freeze with indecision.
Stop worrying about perfection. And don’t agonize over choosing the “right thing.” Before you decide anything, remember your intent. Understand what you truly want, ensuring it aligns with your core values and your personal mission.
Greater self-knowledge generates the courage to cut through the drama and plow ahead in the right direction.
Even with deep insight, we still neglect to recognize when we indulge in self-sabotage. Many times we postpone important matters, waiting for the ensuing confusion to relent.
“I’ll schedule my annual physical once life returns to normal.”
Or you never stretch yourself to apply for your dream job, staying in your current role for years. You might regret your choice or worse – unconsciously, you believe yourself unworthy of anything better.
False beliefs will continue to lead you astray unless you acknowledge your own excuses.
The hard truth?
You are not indispensable.
The world will still exist tomorrow even if you don’t finish your to-do list today. As soon as you release your need to control, you see reality.
Find the courage to be vulnerable, asking family and friends for support. Only you are responsible for your state of affairs, but allow others to help whenever possible.
And as you ease out of the superhero costume and into comfort and affection, remember to say “No,” more often. Taking part in every activity, offer, or project coming your way only adds to the complexity.
Learning to let go creates the time and space you need to prioritize structured, simple habits.
4. Circle back
As you move forward, putting new knowledge into practice, you see a new, clear trail before you. Creating habits will level and pave the way forward.
Which part of your turmoil right now is of the utmost importance?
The Eisenhower Matrix provides a useful starting point, putting your twists and turns into perspective.
But be careful. What may seem important and urgent is sometimes not.
To help you discern what truly needs fixing, remember the first 2 levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: security and survival.
Keep the basics under control such as a roof over your head, money in the bank, food on the table, etc.
So, if your house is literally caving in, it wins over everything.
On the other hand, what if your car breaks down? Taking it to the mechanic may seem both urgent and important until you realize you have an interview for a potential new job later in the day.
What’s most important? The interview or the car?
In reality, the options are endless. You can leave the car and take an Uber to the meeting. Find a car-sharing service, rent a car, or ask someone to drive you. Or ask someone to take the car to the mechanic while you hail a cab.
Once your priorities are clear, simple solutions present themselves.
Repeat the beat
Repeat the good habits you’ve created thus far.
Each situation will call for a different approach. You may have to minimize your space and mind more frequently. But, once you have a better sense of self and intent, the clutter will tend to itself.
Keep an eye on potential backsliding. If you slip, then evaluate the situation. It’s easy to think the chaos is over but stay alert. Simply start from the beginning again.
Conquer your chaos of life
Take a deep breath. Still those thoughts whirling in your head. There’s time yet to keep the world from crashing on you completely and forever. Because, now, you know how to fix it.
You’re going to pick up the fallen pieces and toss them away. Eliminate sloppy, unfounded mental chatter, which only bogs you down and blinds you.
Make your inner and outer worlds immaculate and accept the fact you can’t control everything. You now have the comfort of knowing you’re not alone, and the knowledge to prevent you from slipping back into disorder.
As you go forward, you feel lighter, freer, and energized. You pat yourself on the back, congratulating yourself for tackling such a formidable undertaking.
But what happens when things don’t go as planned even with your best attempts?
When pandemonium strikes, yet you remain unflappable, then you have truly mastered your chaos.
Disclaimer: Though researched, this article should not replace medical advice. If you have or believe to have ADHD, please reach out to a licensed medical practitioner.