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  • Writer's pictureJulia Gillis

When Your Life is a Dumpster Fire

What do you do when you feel like your life is one tragedy after another?

Well to be honest, I used to just light a cigarette on the flames, stand back & watch my life burn to a crisp. Sometimes I would jump around, waving my arms frantically asking others to look. Other times I would put up fences hoping no one would see the smoke.

Almost ALWAYS - it was never my fault.

Anything & everything that is making my life miserable was always because of some grand injustice that I was suffering, rained down on me by someone else.

But then there is growth. I built the tools & skills I needed like taking ownership, focusing on an internal locus, ending the blame game so I could stop feeling like I was tumbling through one hurricane to the next.

So I could stop ‘feeling’ like that. That’s right. Our dumpster fires are are actually just normal life & it's how we view them & how we respond to them that create their appearance to us. Just us.

Which is the first tool in getting your head above water.

I'm currently experiencing what feels like a wild fire, consuming my life, scorching everything I've been working to build, in my family, in my legacy, with my child, with my work - it has entered the mouth of a whale being swallowed, beyond my control.

As I called friends, asking for support, advice & help, I had a moment of shame: do people in my circle see this as my life? Are the people around me watching this engulf the area and backing away slowly, shaking their heads thinking, "Here Julia goes again..."

Rule No. 1: Dismiss what you think other people are seeing as you manage a complex situation. What other people think about you is none of your business. People take the liberty of offering criticism on others behavior or actions when someone feels backed into a corner or feels helpless. No one has all of the facts of a situation - not even you, especially when others are involved. As difficult events unfold, our reptilian responses can kick in, people can have unexpected behaviors that shock us & there is, almost always, no handbook on how to respond. Things are going to be messy no matter what. Lean in & accept that when disaster hits 'clean' is not going to happen. If they are not invited to clean up, they shouldn't be telling you how to do your dirty work.

Rule No. 2: Seek healthy & trusted support. This does not mean seek validation in everything you're doing & rally a blind cheering squad. As I mentioned, when things get tough, we can respond in reptilian ways based in fear. Isolating yourself & living in a vacuum of your own ideas is a major deficit. If you are dealing with something you have never dealt with before - seek advice & support from those who are not operating from a triggered mindset. Check in with others when you are making choices. Get advice from others who have been in similar positions. Be open to people telling you that a step you're considering needs a second option or lacks perspective. My aunt reminds me, "You can't pick up the bathtub you're standing in."

Rule No. 3: PAUSE. Literally close your eyes & take a deep breath. Constantly & all the time. The sooner & more often you are OUT of reptile brain, the better. Our vagus nerve controls our parasympathetic nervous system. When we are stressed out, adrenaline & cortisol are running through our bodies and we have negatively elevated emotions - we act like wild beasts. The less often you are in a triggered mindset, the more often you can make decisions that consider long term consequence & compassion for others.

Rule No. 4: Eat as best you can, sleep as best you can & double down on your structured daily habits as much as possible. Lack of proper nutrition lowers our cognitive ability & the positive hormones in our brain. Lack of sleep impairs our decision making abilities. The majority of us function best in familiar environments with feelings of certainty. If we are in a situation where we feel we have no idea what is coming next, we need to grab firmly onto the things we know for sure. Whether that is your 8am 3 eggs with toast or shutting down your screen time at 9pm or going to the gym on schedule - do it. Even ask for support in making these things happen. Get a 'check in' buddy or call your mother.

Rule No. 5: Take ownership. A lot of the time, when we are blindsided by something that drops a bag of giant dragons poop on our door step - we can have a tendency to throw our arms up & and cry out, "why me!?" We think that just because we didn't directly REQUEST the mess - it is some how not related to anything we've done or any choices we've consciously made. Reality check, yes it is. It always is.

This one can be so tough. We didn't ASK for painful, complex, upsetting, devastating, shocking or even frustrating issues in our lives. But how we handle relationships, how we set up our lives, who we choose to connect with, the challenges we take on to achieve a goal - they have a ripple effect on everything around us. Maybe others warned us. Maybe no one could have seen it coming. But the choices we made created this situation as a possibility that came to fruition. Is it your fault? Are you to blame? Maybe not. Maybe you weren't the one who 'made it' into a terrible nuclear meltdown - but actions you took & decisions you've made have contributed to it's occurrence. So own that. Even if you did nothing 'wrong' - make sure to check your sh*t. The dragon's poop IS on your doorstep. So what are you going to do about it now?

Rule No. 6: Check in with your deep inner knowing & alignment. Now that you are hopefully in a place, after Rule 1 through 5, where you have support, perspective, calm nerves & adequate mental function along with a healthy dose of ownership - what do you think is the right next step for YOU. In dealing with law enforcement, lawyers, social services & child protection, a common theme is a strong request that people behave "In good faith." If you have made choices or acted in a way you can swear came from a place of "in good faith" - that is what most over arching quality authorities are looking for.

Remember that a fire behaves how it's treated & what it's given to eat. Even if we're pouring water on it, someone might be on the other side of the flames dumping fuel on it. And you can't see them through the flames. Do your best.

Act In Good Faith as best you can.


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If you would like to start building your Core Resiliency Skills contact Coach Julia today. You will learn how to Thrive beyond your damage, become a Transitional Character, break abuse cycles in your family cycle & build the core resiliency skills most often missed when being raised in a low nurture environment.

Julia is a Holistic Health Consultant, holding a Double Diploma in Community Support & Addictions Work, is a Certified Transformation Specialist, Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach & a Lvl 2 Reiki Practitioner. She specializes in Trauma Informed Practice & Resiliency Coaching and Holistic Pregnancy & Postpartum Health Coaching. 

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