Sometimes life feels like we are in the middle of a mess: A messy relationship, a messy transition, a difficult work situation, not being able to find a job, a conflict with someone close. Or we might be grieving, were wronged by someone close to us or are facing a health challenge.
Like so much in life, there is no clear way to deal with the messy times. There is so much that can feel out of our control: The circumstances, how others react, maybe even our health.
And yet there is one aspect that is always in our control: Our actions.
The choices we make.
The kind of person we are not when the messiness is over but right now while we are in the middle of the mess.
Because this is something we can always choose: Whether or not we act in a way that makes us proud while faced with the reality of the situation. Whether we act in a way that is aligned with our values, with what matters to us in this situation.
We can't fully control our thoughts, or emotions or other people's actions but the one thing we can always control is our hands and our feet - the actions we take despite how we are feeling or how others are reacting. Despite what is going on around us. Despite how messy life feels.
So here is a question you can ask yourself, regardless of what you are currently facing:
Looking back at this situation in a few years, what would I like to have stood for?
Perhaps looking back, you would like to say that you dealt with the situation with grace, with integrity, by standing up for yourself, by being authentic or by taking care of yourself.
Perhaps you would like to say that you did your best to be there for others while still taking care of your own needs. Perhaps you would like to say that you were able to walk away when things were no longer working for you or that you stayed with the difficulty and saw things through.
Whatever you choose, make sure you choose something that is fully in your control. For example, you can choose to always take care of yourself even if you have an accident and can't exercise anymore - you can still choose other forms of self-care like meditation or healthy eating.
Choosing something like 'I want to be respected' does not work as we cannot control other people's behaviour or whether or not they respect us, regardless of what we do. Instead, we could choose to act in a way that is respectful of ourselves and others because this is something we can always choose and that is fully in our control.
There is no right or wrong answer. It's about what YOU want to stand for in the middle of the mess. Once you choose this, you can then take small steps and make small choices that allow you to act as if you were being this person that you want to be.
And if you don't always succeed? You won't, guaranteed! Because being human IS messy and even if we know what we want to stand for, we don't always manage to move in that direction. And that's OK too. Bring yourself kindness, and then readjust to find a different, perhaps more creative way back to what truly matters to you.