By Laura Petiford PMHNP, LMFT

Glitches. Life is full of them. Who hasn’t had the experience of a well thought out plan being disrupted by, well, life. It’s the child with a fever and sore throat the morning of an important presentation at work. It’s the traffic pile up on I95 when you are already late. It’s the phone call from the Dr. letting you know there was a suspicious finding on your mammogram. From the miniscule and mundane to the powerful and profound, they force us to reorganize, re-evaluate, re-prioritize. They can fill us with fear and anger and they can keep us from running on autopilot creating a more authentic and intentional life for ourselves.

How do you respond when you hit the proverbial speedbump in life’s road? Do you focus on what is lost or do you use it as an opportunity to learn about yourself and seek new solutions?

Here are THREE things to ask yourself next time you find yourself at odds with your best laid plan:

What am I telling myself about this situation that is based upon fear and may or may not be true?

Determine what story it is you are telling yourself about your current situation. Likely there is a boogie man lurking somewhere. Take the time to open the closet door, shine the flashlight all around and remind yourself, while life does present challenges, you are equipped to handle them.

How is my breathing?

I know, this one sounds silly or maybe even condescending. But the physiological fact is that breathing patterns impact our emotions. So if you want to change the way you feel, change the way you breathe. Belly breathing, taking in a deep breath so that your tummy pooches out, loosens the grip of negative feelings. Shallow breaths typically accompany stress and anxiety and alert the brain that oxygen is in short supply making things only worse. Take the time to breathe deeply.

Is there something I could be doing differently that could alleviate this stress in some way?

The power we have in life lives largely in the choices we make. Make sure you are as powerful in your own life as is possible by examining your choices and adjusting them to reflect your values. Don’t like being late to work? Maybe leaving the house 10 minutes earlier will prevent this. Feeling sluggish and overwhelmed? Perhaps it’s time to take a look at diet and exercise habits. Own your power and make needed changes.