5 Things To Remember When Your Fast Moving Train Derails

trainwreckWritten by Terri Crosby for In Care of Relationships

We’re sailing along in life, and BAM!  Suddenly, we’re off the tracks.  Whoa!  It’s messy.  There are consequences.  Temporarily, we’re a little worse for the wear and maybe others are, too.

  • My life is falling to pieces.
  • I’m sick.
  • I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.
  • I had a relationship (or fill-in-the-blank) and now I don’t.

Derailing or hitting the wall  means we’ve come to the end of something and the beginning of something else.  We’ve produced a result that brings how we usually do things front and center.  Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at what brought us to this point. Being “up against it” gives us a chance to take a look at our default modes — how we usually respond, what we usually do or say, think, or feel.  How do we typically show up in life?

Coming to a fast stop is almost never pretty.  There is the matter of collateral damage.  And it’s hard on the contents of the plane, train, automobile or person.  Life as we know it comes to a screeching halt.

The good news?  Being off the track or brought to our knees is (yes, always) helpful.  Revealing.  Life-changing.

If I don’t know that I’m on a track that’s taking me to where I don’t really want to go, then stopping my speedy, run-away train is a really good thing.

This idea of being brought to our knees, or hitting the wall, or derailing might happen around health issues. Let’s say I’m rolling along, and BAM!  I’ve got the flu. It’s miserable, I’m in bed, can’t move, everything hurts, can’t open my eyes, can’t sleep, can’t eat.

When this happens, I’ve got to re-arrange my life.  All those important and unchangeable meetings, appointments or activities — yes, they change.  They yield.

Or I’m sailing along and suddenly a major health issue (way more than the flu) appears on my horizon.  It’s a shock and I don’t like it, but here it is.  I’ve got to figure out how to include it, improve it, deal with it.

In any of these situations, there is a moment of reckoning — a re-evaluation, a shift.  “Wow.  I thought I was perfectly healthy….”

This happens in relationships, too.  Things are moving along as they always do, and then one partner drops a bombshell.

“I’m leaving you.” 

“I’ve decided I need time alone to figure things out.  Let’s take a 3 month break from each other.  I’ll set you up in an apartment.”  

“I need to be alone, so why don’t you take a long trip and have some much needed time for yourself as well?  It would be good for both of us.” 

“This isn’t working.  It hasn’t been working for a long time.  I can’t do this anymore.  I’m done.”

Yep.  Change is Messy.

What To Do About The Mess?

1. Do whatever gives you relief, even it it means that you pretend the disaster or impending disaster is not happening.Messy trimmed

Go ahead — practice denial.  I’m perfectly serious about this. (Don’t tell your therapist I said that.  But hang in there.  Read on….)

Here’s the general idea — take your attention off the issue.  For now, operate as if there has been no change, no derailment, no bad news.  This will give you some relief.  And to move anywhere you really want to go, relief is what you need.

And when you’re relieved, it’s easier to breathe.  And breathing keeps you alive.  Breathing is good.

Relief helps everything, anything, every time.  Personal practices that melt difficulties enough to get things moving in a positive direction:

  • Soothe yourself
  • Do less, BE more
  • Give yourself a break
  • Put down the sledge hammer
  • Take your critical foot off the gas
  • Take yourself off the hook
  • Heck, take everybody off the hook
  • Be nicer to yourself in every way possible.

I pinky promise.  I know this for sure.

2. Suspend conclusions.

You’re sick, but truth-be-told, you really have no idea why, even if the doctor told you.  Your partner has walked out on you, but you really don’t know the whole story, even if they gave you reasons.  Your company is reorganizing, and won’t be needing your services.  You have no idea, really, what’s in store for you, even if it was all written in a company memo.

In the middle of the panic, the fear, the “what am I going to do about this” it’s nigh on impossible to see the big picture.  Don’t expect yourself to see it.  Let alone embrace it!  It’s not your job in this moment.  Meanwhile, throw those emerging and possibly persistent  (negative) conclusions in the trash.  Immediately.

Coming to negative or limiting conclusions sends you into what I call “future ugly” so why not stay here in this moment, and put pretty little wings on the nasty negative conclusions and tell them to fly, fly away.  The mind will give you a hassle about this, but be patient.  Just keep throwing conclusions about how this happened, what you shoulda done, coulda done, or what this all means about your current or future life directly in the trash.

It’s also OK to let yourself sit in “I don’t know…” or “I’m taking one day at a time…” It’s OK not to talk to people about it.  It’s OK to let the whole thing sit.  Keep discarding whatever helps you navigate toward neutral.

3. Pay attention to your positive and negative emotions.  They are your helpers, your guides, your north stars.

In a nutshell, if you have negative emotion, think of it as a signal that you’re thinking in a way that’s not going to help you.  Just say “oops” and re-calculate.  Your navigator does it all the time.  You can, too.  Your emotions will give you turn by turn guidance.

If you are now thinking in a way that causes you pain, you’re creating a future you probably don’t really want.  Your next now is built on this one.

On the other hand, being more easy-going or looking for the bright side will help you create a future you prefer.  Use negative emotion to remind yourself that you have the option to turn in a different direction that will contribute to your well-being.

Your thought patterns create momentum.  Is the momentum in the direction you want to go?

4. Think: What if nothing is wrong.  Not Now.  Not Ever.

Mac Devil Dec 2010Nice thought if you can think it, right?

That’s what the Dali Lama thinks.  Someone asked him about his secret to enlightenment, and being so happy, and he said something to the effect that “Everything is always alright with me.”

I often say to myself, “What if this is crazy turn of events is actually here to help me?”  Or “This is probably helping me, I just can’t see it yet.”

In other words, what if this problem is here simply to help us clarify?

5. Think of the crash as a reminder that a personal software upgrade is in order.

A crash is helping you crash and burn the old programs so you can create, invite, or find new programs that work better

There.  I said it.  And so eloquently, too, huh?


For more information about In Care of Relationships, click here.

About Terri Crosby — I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains with Eric, my partner of 15 years, two cats and a dog, and as many flowers and vegetables as I can plant.  I love really good food, good friends, good relationships!


change, crash, derail, hitting the wall, In Care of Relaitonships, Life Changes, making changes, relationship, relationships, Terri Crosby


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