We live within a culture of chaos. A 24 hour news cycle flashes before us. Multi-tasking means epic to-do lists with fragments of completion time. We’re simultaneously running here, posting there, and making plans on how to be over there. If there is substance use in the picture, then it’s even more chaotic.

Because of so many moving parts and trouble around every corner, many of us have developed a chaos habit. Everyday events like relationships, kids, family, work, leisure and education overload us with too much of everything. We can’t see a way out.

How Can We Move From Surviving To Thriving?

We must learn to use the chaos for good. Out of chaos comes creativity, if you you shift the balance. Chaos, with its energizing factors, can be wrestled into healing. And this is especially important where other people with unhealthy habits bring even more chaos to your world. Here are thirteen ways thrive in spite of a chaos habit.

1. Accept To The Chaos

This simply means recognizing that your life is out-of-control and the first steps are to acknowledge, surrender, and accept that things need to change. By letting go of the baggage of thinking you are overwhelmed, this allows you to realize that there are ways to cope and to keep things in perspective.

2. Recognize The Chaotic Pattern

Chaos is nothing but energy that has gone amuck. Recognize the chaotic patterns in your life and where these patterns are the worst. Are you watching too much news, being nothing but a chauffeur to your kids, fighting with your partner, or are you overwhelmed with work stress? Is someone’s substance use a secret that you have to deal with every day?

3. Use Your Chaos Habit In A Positive Manner

Everything is energy and it is how you respond to the energy makes a difference. When you begin to utilize this chaotic energy in a positive manner, you take it out of the realm of dysfunction into health.

4. Act, Don’t React

When you react to people and situations, negative reactions can steal your energy. Instead, when you act, you come from your own power. For example, your teenage daughter is angry and yelling at you for not allowing her to attend a party. Or you suspect she may be using drugs? If you engage by reacting with your own anger and yelling, the situation continues to escalate. But if you act out of power by responding calmly and rationally, then the situation becomes calmer, or at least, you are calm within the chaos.

5. Set Healthy Boundaries

Yes means yes and no means no. If you constantly give in, then you are acting out of chaos instead of power.

6. Make A List Of The Things You Do And Prioritize Them

Organize, organize, and organize. Then follow through with the organization. Can you do less of the stressful activities?

7. If Possible, Shut Down For Awhile

Turn off the TV, stay off the computer, and give yourself some free time. If substance use is the issue, see a therapist or psychologist or try Al-anon.

8. Rely On Others For Help

If there is a special situation that has created more chaos, such as a death of a loved one, make sure you rely on others for help. While you can lean on others, you must be sure to not wear them out, so you need to be careful regarding asking for too much help.

9. Get Support

Also, you can rely on others such as attending 12-step meetings, support groups, and going to counseling.

10. Make Sure You’re Doing The 4 Basics Of Health

Put these four things first: eating, sleeping, exercising, and hygiene, EVERY day. These basics significantly help towards feeling better. After those needs have been filled, do healthy activities that you enjoy:

  • Read
  • Go jogging
  • Take  meditative walk
  • Go to the movies
  • Go out to dinner with friends
  • Participate in yoga groups or do yoga alone
  • Do puzzles
  • Go to a nature preserve
  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • Participate in religious/spiritual activities.

12. Focus On Gratitude

Make a gratitude sandwich.  In the morning and at night, make a daily list of what you’re grateful for and remember them throughout the day.

13. Laugh And Have Fun

Instead of getting overwhelmed, look at your life and laugh. You are the only one who can turn it around – from chaos to fun.

Also, let’s explore a technique developed by holistic practitioner and author, Caroline Myss. She tells us to give ourselves $100 worth of energy at the beginning of the day. Then, throughout the day, add and subtract to such energy, with the goal of having at least $100 of energy left by bedtime. This wonderful activity helps to see where the positive energy is coming from such as from healthy people and activities in life, and where the energy may get sucked away. Do this for a week; it’s amazing at how helpful this is.

In summary, chaos can be your friend. Embrace the energy and channel it into healthy ways. Energy is energy. How it’s used is up to you.

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Carol Anderson
Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW, is a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience in the fields of mental health, addictions, and co-occurring disorders. Her other specialties include grief and trauma, women’s issues, chronic pain management, holistic healing, GLBTQ concerns, and spirituality and transpersonal psychology. Dr. Anderson has been educated and trained in the fields of education, social work, and spirituality, and she holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (non-denominational/interfaith) specializing in spirituality.

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