In the Fall of 2009 Daphne Rose Kingma was on a walk with a dear friend who had come to visit her from Europe. He had lost his job. His wife had left him. His financial portfolio had dwindled to less than a third of its original size. He had also had to move and on top of it all he’d been diagnosed with a slow-moving degenerative disease that would, ultimately, be fatal. She describes how he was in need of deep comfort as well as distraction from his anguish during his visit. The walked and hiked, had picnic lunches, attended a concert, an art gallery opening and went to a Buddhist temple to pray. On one particular afternoon while out walking he asked her to make him a list of the ten things he needed to get through his crisis.
Daphne, who was already the author of a number of books, including Coming Apart, 365 Days of Love, Loving Yourself and The Men We Never Knew, thought to herself when he posed the question, that it was a lot to ask, and that it was practically like asking her to write a book. Yet, when they returned home from their walk and she sat down to contemplate his question, she found that within minutes she had created a list for her friend. Her list would become the basis for her latest book called The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart.
In the Introduction Daphne shares “When hardship hits, especially when a bunch of things pile on all at once, we can be shaken to the core, and life feels completely out of control.”
“When life throws us a curveball, our first response is shock, denial, and disbelief. We can’t believe that this — or all of this — is actually happening. Once we digest the fact that it really is happening and that it won’t go away, we begin to bargain, to try to manage the unwieldy monster. Maybe it’ll change tomorrow. Maybe my wife was just threatening –she’ll be back. Maybe the bank miscalculated the dividends. Maybe the hospital got the X-rays mixed up. In this deeply painful emotional state, we’re torn between facing the truth of what has occurred and still hoping against hope that somehow the nightmare will be repealed.”
“But when bargaining no longer works, then what? How do you mend your heart after loss? How do you carry on or begin again? What can you do when your wife walks out? Your child dies? Your husband takes you to custody court and “buys” the right to move your children six states away? How can you keep on reaching when your dreams when your efforts keep coming to naught? When you come back shattered from war? When every cent you squirreled away has vanished in WallStreetspeak and cybersmoke, and at age sixty-four with a PhD you find yourself weirdly, working as a paint consultant at a hardware store?”
The following chapters outlines the 10 things one can do to find emotional and spiritual balance in the midst of crisis. Here is a small taste of each chapter.
1.If you want to get through this crisis you will have to Cry Your Heart Out.
“He who sits in the house of grief will eventually sit in the garden.” – Hafiz
“Hard times, more than any others, reveal to us the truth that the signature of our humanity is our emotional nature. What differentiates us from stone and butterflies is the degree to which what happens to us affects us on an emotional level. We don’t just experience things – get a divorce, lose our house, watch our dog die from eating poison –we have feelings about these events. It is the depth and nuance of our feelings – of our joy, sorrow, anger, and fear –that give texture to our humanity.”
2. If you want to get through this crisis you will have to Face Your Defaults.
“Awareness in itself is curative.” – Fritz Perls
“Your defaults are whatever you do when you don’t know how to cope or what to do next…Defaults are habitual behaviors, and they’re not always the best way to cope. New –and especially, difficult — circumstances howl out for new solutions: improvisation, imagination, ingenuity. But when we’re intimidated, scared, and overwhelmed, most of us resort to our default behaviors because, well, we always have, and there they are.”
3. If you want to get through this crisis you will have to Do Something Different.
“We all like to stay on the little crutches that are familiar.” Jules Zimmer
“Different circumstances call on us to be different. To grow or die. To expand or contract. To fly or get lost in the rubble. As our world changes, we must change. When our circumstances are altered, we must alter our response to them.”
4. If you want to get through this crisis you will have to Let Go.
“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.” – Michael Peake
“When your life is falling apart, there’s always the impulse to hold on: to him, to her, to it; to the way it was, to how you wanted it to be, to how you want it now. But in order to get through a crisis, you will have to let go of whatever is standing in your way or causing the problem; these are the handcuffs around your ankles, the tin cans tied to your tail. You will have to let go of whatever isn’t serving you, whatever you no longer need, whatever keeps you from moving forward, whatever you’re so attached to that you can’t see where you’re going.”
5. If you want to get through this crisis you will have to Remember Who You’ve Always Been.
“He knows not his own strength that has not met adversity.” Cesare Pavese
“When the tectonic plates of the world are shifting beneath your feet, it is hard to remember that there’s a continuous thread of genius, of power, of responsiveness that runs through your life, that, since the beginning, you’ve had certain qualities to bring to the task at hand – no matter how fraught it may be with challenge and frustration. Who you are now is who you’ve always been. You didn’t wake up today as somebody else. You are a single, talented, rare, unrepeatable human being. There is something at your core that’s unique to you, that always has been and always will be.”
6. If you want to get through this crisis you will have to Persist.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Wolfgang von Goethe
“Persistence is the spiritual grace that allows you to continue to act with optimism even when you feel trapped in the pit of hell. It is the steadfast, continual, simple – and at times excruciatingly difficult – practice of trudging forward until the difficult present you’re scared will go on forever is replaced by a future that ha a new color scheme.”
7. If you want to get through this crisis you will have to Integrate Your Loss.
“Enlightenment doesn’t occur from sitting around visualizing images of light, but from integrating the darker aspects of the self into the conscious personality.” – Carl Jung
“In order to get through the crisis you’re in, you will have to accept what has happened and then integrate it into the fabric of your life. Your integration of the content and the meaning of the crisis will be the sign, the hallmark, that you are moving through this challenge.”
8. If you want to get through this crisis you will have to Live Simply.
“Do what you can. Where you are. With what you have.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Living simply is paring away — stuff, obligations, expectations, people. It’s removing all the glut and rubble from your life, making space in your house, your heart, your brain, and your life for exactly and only what you need. It’s getting down to the core of things and returning to a way of living that most of us can only vaguely remember: pleasures that don’t cost piles of money, rewards you don’t have to buy in stores, amusements that don’t require a screen or scrabbling with hundreds of other people to get to.”
“In times of crisis, love must prevail.” ~ Linda Laurie
“In the end, love really is the only thing that matters. We’ve heard that forever, and to some degree we believe it. Be do we really live it? Apart from romantic love – which, for a lot of us, consumes a great deal of our time and attention as we look everywhere for “the one” – we’re not generally whiling away our afternoons just loving each other to pieces. Why does it take a nightmare to wake us up to our need for love? Why is compassion the last thing on our agenda, after the ball game and a trip to Target, after we’ve answered our email and voicemail, checked Facebook and Twitter? We have gotten so terribly far away from our gaping beautiful need for love because, somehow along the way, we have become immersed in all our distractions. Our actions often seem to indicate that we believe that things, not relationships, will nourish us; that noise, not silence, will give us peace; that electronic stimulation, not morning sunlight, will fill our souls with excitement. We have gotten so far away from the truth of our need for love that it’s almost as if the cosmos itself has had to bust our chops so we would wake up and remember. Love is relationship. It is the energy that passes between people when they are in close enough proximity – emotional, physical, spiritual – for that energy to pass between hem. It is the energy too that passes between people and creatures, people and natures, people and the mystery.”
10. If you want this crisis to transform you, you will choose to Live In the Light of the Spirit.
“On many occasions when I was dancing I have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my spirit soar and I became one with everything that exists. I became the stars and the moon. I became the lover and the beloved. I became the victor and the vanquished…the singer and the song…the knower and the known.” ~ Michael Jackson
“Spiritual life gives us a shimmering new awareness that this life is not the whole of things. As we move through the paces of our spiritual practice, we begin to hear the whispers deep inside us. Gradually we come to know, to remember, that there is something deeper and more ancient in us, something forever-ish at our core, something that was and will always be, something whose scope is vast and whose breath is eternal, something that we call god or spirit or soul.”
Each Chapter ends with some questions. Here are some to contemplate from each section:
Cry Your Heart Out ~ What’s the old ache in your heart that you’ve never wept over?
Face Your Defaults ~ What are your most prominent default behaviors?
Do Something Different ~ As far as you can tell, what is this crisis asking you to do differently?
Let Go ~ What are you holding on to that is impeding your freedom as you endeavor to move through this crisis? Debilitating friendships? Unproductive work relationships? A lousy marriage? Hopelessness? Despair? A standard of living you can’t afford?
Remembering Who You’ve Always Been ~ What, if you think about it quickly right now, is your signature strength? If it doesn’t come immediately to mind, ask yourself what you liked to do when you were a child of six or seven.
Persist ~ The area of your life in which you are most discouraged and to which you really need to bring the practice of persistence is ______________.
Integrate Your Loss ~ What is the crisis, the difficult experience, the loss or change of status that you are trying to integrate right now?
Live Simply ~ What are ten things you could get rid of immediately?
Go Where the Love Is ~ What’s the kind of love you still need? How would you like that to show up for you now? What is the offering of love that you would like to give?
Life in the Light of the Spirit ~ What experience or experiences have you had that connected you to your own transcendent and eternal nature?
Peace Be With You
May the depth of your crisis remind you of who you really are. May your pain bring you into the light of awareness. May your journey through it give you hope. And when you have made it through the storm, may you feel great peace and joy.