Life Transitions, Day 12: Upheaval

by | Nov 15, 2020 | Personal Development

Things weren’t working. There was just no other way to put it.

And I didn’t know why. I was stuck. I was lost. And for some reason I intuited that more work, more action, more to-do items, just wasn’t the answer.

I never would have imagined that stopping and meditating would hold the answers I was desperately trying to find.

This is Life Transitions. Welcome to day 12.

Life Transitions Series

Life Transitions, Day 1 (Introduction)
Life Transitions, Day 2: Resistance
Life Transitions, Day 3: Jobs & Careers
Life Transitions, Day 4: Location
Life Transitions, Day 5: Relationships
Life Transitions, Day 6: When the Sandcastle Crumbles
Life Transitions, Day 7: Recovery
Life Transitions, Day 8: Pivots
Life Transitions, Day 9: Injury
Life Transitions, Day 10: Illness
Life Transitions, Day 11: Disaster

What is Upheaval?

Upheaval happens suddenly without warning.

That doesn’t mean upheaval isn’t the result of someone else’s intention or deliberate sabotage, because it oftentimes is.

Of course, sometimes upheaval is beyond the control of anyone, even those in power. I covered disaster on Day 11 of this series, and disaster can certainly be the catalyst for upheaval.

For the intents and purposes of this series and life transitions in general, upheaval represents sudden changes that make it necessary for us to course correct.

In that sense, upheaval is not unlike pivots. But where pivots can be made consciously and deliberately, upheaval is involuntary.

Upheaval can take many forms – physical, spiritual, emotional, and more.

But usually it isn’t good or bad, at least not in the sense that we would say winning the lottery is good and going broke is bad.

Whatever meaning you attach to it becomes true, because if you return to that meaning often enough, it will become belief.

Upheaval isn’t always pleasant, expected, or even fun. But if you see it as an opportunity to reposition yourself for a more desirable future, then it can certainly lead to positive individual outcomes.

We Are in Upheaval Now

If you want to see an example of an upheaval at play, you need look no further than your own life.

The pandemic has resulted in a massive upheaval – both positive and negative, micro and macro, individual and collective.

Some people (even some I know) have seen lock-downs and quarantines as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family, fall in love, tackle bucket list items, embrace their spirituality, and more.

The flip side of that, of course, is the negative impact it has had on families, mental health, bank balances, and of course, resulting suicides.

Overall, I can only offer a superficial view, as I can’t possibly list off all the positives and negatives of upheaval.

What I can say is that, in the right hands, upheaval represents an opportunity (in this context, not opportunistic).

An opportunity to rethink and reevaluate. To change course or pivot (also see day eight) as necessary. To become aware of what matters in life and to give it the time and attention it deserves.

We all have worries. But most of the time, these worries aren’t justified, because they aren’t here in this moment. We might be worried about our bank balance, but in this moment, we have enough. We might be worried about when we’ll get back to work, but in this moment, we don’t need work.

As human beings, we generally fall into the habit of imagining worst case scenarios and acting as if they are going to happen, instead of imagining the future we want to create, and acting as if these visions will be realized.

We generally fall into the habit of imagining worst case scenarios and acting as if they are going to happen, instead of imagining the future we want to create, and acting as if these visions will be realized. Click To Tweet

I understand that this can be a challenging perspective but to tackle upheaval with any sense of possibility, in my experience, a spiritual perspective is necessary.

But if we were to appreciate the moment (which is all we truly have) instead of the impending doom we suspect is around the corner, we would see that, in fact, everything is fine in the moment. And we would be able to live in the fullness of this experience instead of constantly being drawn to the past or the future. And the past and the future are only available in the mind.

How to Handle Upheaval

I’ve offered some substantial clues as to how to handle upheaval already.

First, understand that upheaval in and of itself is not evil. It will feel uncomfortable. It may even feel unjust. But it’s usually there to make you aware of something.

Given that it typically occurs in an area you care about deeply, it’s unlikely you’ll react to it positively in an immediate way.

Your girlfriend may decide to break up with you, out of the blue, with no explanation whatsoever (also see relationships from day five of the Life Transitions series).

What you may not see is just how inflated she had become in your world. You put her on a pedestal. Thought of her as more important than work, or spirituality, or exercise, or hobbies.

That type of pressure isn’t received well by anybody. Most of us want to be in meaningful relationships, but we know when our partner is worshipping the very road we walk on. And it’s too much. Because none of us are saviors by profession.

What I’ve just described is also known as excess potential. Wherever there’s excess potential, the universe self-corrects and restores balanced, and it takes the path of least resistance to get there.

Excess potential is where upheaval is most likely to occur. People who put too much emphasis on any aspect of their life, no matter how connected to their purpose or calling, are sure to experience upheaval repeatedly.

A woman who works 16 hours per day towards her business goals is sure to see progress at first. But sooner or later (usually sooner), she will see diminishing returns.

You have a choice. You can use your will to push beyond the diminishing returns.

But then something else happens. You work yourself to exhaustion. You experience a panic attack. Or maybe you collapse from overwork.

This is the universe correcting the undue imbalanced created. And it points clearly to the fact that more (work) doesn’t necessarily lead to more (reward).

The best thing you can do about upheaval is just be with yourself. This can take any form you want. You can mediate. You can journal. Maybe having a coffee and sitting outside for an hour every morning.

The point is to sit with whatever emotions arise. Not to fix them. Not to survive them. Just to allow them. Acknowledge them. Love them. They only come up to be released and to dissolve but they can’t dissolve if you try to numb them or distract yourself from them.

In the example given, working more would just be running from the problem. And the balance is naturally restored when you begin giving other areas of your life the attention they deserve. Suddenly, as if by magic, by paying attention to areas of your life you neglected, your business would start working better too.

Upheaval, Final Thoughts

We all go through seasons of upheaval. Sometimes we don’t even recognize when it’s happening.

But if we can begin to identify the pattern, then we can transition through upheaval with grace, and without much tribulation.

Upheaval is just trying to make us aware of something we need to know. To course correct. To move into alignment. Or to find a better path to our dreams and desires.

What upheaval have you experienced in your life? How did you handle it?

I look forward to sharing more on the topic of life transitions, and if you have any questions you’d like answered, I’d love to know.

Leave a comment below.

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