Starting over: Tips to finding grace in difficult times

Natural disaster. Divorce. Death of a loved one. Job loss. Career change.

There’s not one of us who has escaped major change in our lives. And whether you bring on major change yourself or circumstances beyond your control are thrust upon you, starting over is never easy.

In fact, major life change can bring with it extreme heartache, debilitating stress and despair.

But you can do it. You have the means within yourself to recuperate and grow from any life-altering situation. Truly.

If you or a loved one is facing an experience that requires “starting over,” keep the following points in mind. They’ll help you get through a very difficult time with greater peace-of-mind and grace.

Take time to let go.

Starting over often happens due to traumatic events. Even when you initiate the change that requires starting over, grief is natural. Take the necessary time to grieve your losses. Your timeframe for mourning may be different than someone else’s, so be true to your own needs.

Be gentle with yourself.

If ever there was a time to love and nurture yourself, it would be now. Go easy and be sweet with yourself. Take rest when you need it. Say no to anything but the essential, and use that extra time to sleep, walk in nature, visit with supportive friends. Just be.

One step at a time.

Starting over can feel overwhelming at first, so pay attention to one step at a time. For example, if your home has been devastated by fire or another disaster, take care of your immediate housing needs and safety first before you turn to the bigger question of where to live in the long run.

Take consistent baby steps.

You will make more progress (and it will feel easier) if you focus on accomplishing regular, small tasks rather than large ones now and then. It will also help you move through the times when you feel so overwhelmed that you can’t seem to do anything. Acknowledge each and every step as an accomplishment. Each and every one is.

Accept the change.

Whatever has happened has simply “happened.” It just is. Try to avoid “what if” scenarios or feeling guilty or creating stories to explain why it happened. Hard as it might seem, acceptance helps you embrace the process of starting over.

Make an attitude adjustment.

Starting over can be as easy as changing your mind or your attitude. Instead of being fearful of change and what lies ahead, embrace the potential that change makes possible. Try to view it as adventurous, perhaps even exhilirating. You may learn to celebrate change rather than trying to avoid it.

Set realistic deadlines.

When it comes to the tasks required of starting over, it’s helpful to set deadlines for yourself. But give yourself ample time to accomplish them. For example, you might set a date to attend a support group to help you deal with the pain of loss.

Learn new skills if necessary.

Starting over might mean having to learn some new skills. If you lost your job, you might need or want to go back to school. If you lost a longtime spouse, you might have to learn how to date again. Be open to learning. It’s a positive way to start over and have some fun at the same time.

Create a support team.

Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family members for help, or attend support groups. And know when to seek help from professionals. Consider advice from books as well, such as James M. Kramon’s Starting Out or Starting Over: An Expert’s Checklists for Life’s Major Decisions. Such resources can be invaluable to the starting-over process.

Like it or not, change is inevitable. Learn to accept, embrace and grow from the change. Starting over will feel easier, and you be able to go with the flow more gracefully.

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