Upheaval: A Field Guide - Christine Kane

The story from last post’s pop quiz can be custom-designed to fit any life. You can make it job-related (getting fired) or home related (getting evicted) or even health related. It’s not the situation that matters. It’s how you handle the situation.

In the first post, I wrote about how upheaval can be a catalyst for and an indicator of deep personal growth. But how do you move through the emotions and discomfort to gain some perspective? How can you genuinely answer “C” to the pop quiz?

Here are five ideas for getting through upheaval. When you incorporate these ideas into your daily existence, you won’t need upheavals as growth catalysts. Your shifts will happen more smoothly and peacefully. You will be in alignment with the present moment.

If you’re deeply mucked in upheaval – you will most likely not be able to hold onto these perspectives continuously. Just keep reminding yourself of them when you have clear moments…

Idea #1: See Yourself as Powerful

I have a mentor who would take one look at our pop-quiz situation and say, “Wow! Look at how powerful you are! Look at the shift you manifested in your life!” She would love you and be compassionate, but there’s no way she would see you as a victim. Nor would she see the ex as a perpetrator.

Some people get very triggered by this approach. They see it as cold-hearted. I see it as bold and liberating. If you were powerful enough to create the situation (even unconsciously) – then you are powerful enough to grow through it. And you are powerful enough to create something even better. Approach upheaval from the perspective that you created it – no blame, fault, guilt or shame allowed.

Idea #2: Avoid Asking “Why?”

“Why did this happen to me?” is not an empowering question. It implies that there is some overseeing force that plays you like the shoe in Monopoly. No outside entity is choreographing your life so that you can be in pain. Most likely, the “perpetrator” in this situation was doing the very best that he/she could in the moment. “Why” rarely brings answers. Maybe, in time, you can answer the question yourself. Maybe you’ll arrive at a place where you can translate the situation. But avoid “Why” when you’re freshly upheaval-ed.

Idea #3: Ask Empowering Questions

There are five questions to ask yourself when you’re experiencing upheaval.

1 – What have I been praying for?

We don’t have to be on our knees to pray. Like many, I believe that every thought we think is a prayer. Our intents are prayers.

So, then, what have you been wishing for, desiring, or intending? Sometimes you’ll find that upheaval is actually the answer to the very thing you said you wanted. Sometimes answers come in paradox.

2 – What was my role in this? (How did I bring it about? What messages have I been ignoring?)

Maybe you haven’t prayed at all. Maybe question #1 feels stupid because the upheaval you’re experiencing has nothing to do with anything you want. Maybe you are insisting that you had no role in it. Maybe it came completely out of nowhere and blind-sided you.

Remember that asking about your role in the situation is not the same thing as “finding fault” or “blaming yourself.” This question is designed to help you to find your blind spots, your unconsciousness, the ways you “check out” of situations, the ways you ignore your intuition or live on auto-pilot.

3 – How can I grow from this?

There are always ways to grow from any upheaval. Life is never static or stuck.

4 – How could I stay stuck if I let myself?

It’s good to know your temptations and your tendencies to revert to old mindsets for two reasons.

The first is so that you can simply be aware of your resistance. When this voice speaks up, you don’t have to be afraid that it’s the absolute truth. You can see it for what it is.

The second is that you can figure out ways to take care of this part of you. If you simply try to stuff this voice, then it might show up and try to manifest itself in unhealthy ways. However, if you let it have a voice, then you can recognize it when it arises. On a bad day, you can rent movies or head to the batting cages to blow off steam. Self-care is an important part of healing.

5 – If my life is speaking to me, what is it saying?

In Oprah Winfrey’s “Live Your Best Life” Journal, she says,

“There is a real pattern to the way your life is speaking to you. A whisper becomes a message. The message becomes a lesson. Unheeded, that lesson turns into a problem. And if you let it, that problem will likely become a full-blown crisis.”

So, if you’re experiencing upheaval, what is your life saying to you? Only you can answer this question, and it might take some time to find that answer.

Idea #4 – Reaffirm your intent often

Use your intent like a compass. Let it point you in your intended direction, rather than staying stuck in the muck. Keep reminding yourself of your desired outcome – whether it is clarity, happiness, peace, abundance, self-love. Remember that energy flows where attention goes. Keep your attention on your intention.

Idea #5 – Have Faith

Probably the most challenging thing about going through a life change is to have faith that there is some design, that things will move towards healing, and that good will come out of this. It’s easy to think, “Maybe I was better off in that unhealthy situation. At least I had something! Now I don’t know what I have!” This is where you learn to have faith. In the same way that you build courage by doing courageous things, you build faith by living from faith.

  • Glenn

    I thought I had lived a pretty balanced life for the last ten tears or so after my mother was diagnosed with cancer and given a few months to live by the wise doctor. My 74 year old mothers response was but you don’t understand, I just bought my season golf pass. Long story short, the cancer progressed throughout her body with my father at her side day and night. Six months later, after extensive scans and tests, the doctors could not find any cancer and today my mother is 84….not sure what happened to the doctor ๐Ÿ™‚ I became a vegetarian over night…quit cold turkey…pun intended.

    And I thought life was good, until a call from my sister in Denver that hospice had come in to take care of her, could I come be with her? My answer of course was yes and I took a train from the east coast to Denver. You can read the whole story at http://www.healinggardens.org. My sister was 56. Sitting next to your dying sister listening to her favorite cd John Tesh and the Power of Love will change your life.

    I learned from studying performance psychology (self improvement…but those words scare most people) that if you change the way you look at things the things you look at change. And I took that a step further, whenever I face a challenge or an opportunity, such as my mother’s cancer or my sister’s passing I ask myself. What could be great about this? Obviously a difficult question in these circumstances.

    But with that question I came up with answer I could view as positive. Since my sisters passing my wife and I have lost a collective 90 lbs in order to be healthier, I started a website to help others, healinggardens.org and I simply enjoy the simple things. My wife and I started riding our mt. bikes and kayking while enjoying the Bald Eagles flying overhead. We get bored with human creations such as technology or buildings, but we can sit next to the ocean or a small stream for hours or days, or watch live theatre or listen to music.

    Maybe upheaval can mean “a breaking through” to new and unexplored possibilities, at least it does in my dictionary. Picture a volcano’s upheaval through the earth’s crust to begin to build a new mountain…….just my thoughts and as one of my mentors says…this information may be worth exactly what you paid for it…..nothing ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Christine Kane

    thanks sylvia!

  • Sylvia C.

    Hey there,

    I love # 1. I agree wholeheartedly. If we take responsibility we can have so much power.

    Excellent post (as always). I always come to you for the philosophical outlook on life that so many people refuse to delve deep enough to explore.


    Sylvia C.

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks to all for such great additional notes and thoughts. And yes, the perspective of this is the gift of time, Joy. And, even so, it’s often good to hear that someone else has made it through to have that retrospective glance – so that you don’t feel so lost when the big changes come about! Thanks again everyone!

  • Joy Gardner

    While I applaud the wisdom and clarity this post purports, I also have to acknowledge (for the benefit of those for whom these principles may seem foreign or unattainable) that to try to extract higher wisdom from a situation when all hell is breaking loose is difficult at best. Often the perspective is better after the storm has passed and these things come more easily. When we operate from a place of deep shalom, the faith is as easy as breathing, and the sharpness of, say, a deep offense does not touch us because we have “eyes to see”…Some may be so emotionally chaotic that these may seem like disciplines unattainable. In the numbness of deep pain, we need to hear the voice of love that says, “you are a friend worth having, it’s going to be okay, hang on, I’m here, I’m not leaving” etc. until the reaffirmations that breathe life are deeply alive in us, self-healing, not dependent on any other, birthing hope no matter what befalls us…

  • Diane

    Simply fabulous post Christine! I was talking on the phone with a girlfriend last night. We were laughing about my week so far. Almost burned my house down (kitchen mishap), got a speeding ticket, and pissed off my neighbor. It was good to laugh and I try to see everything as a lesson. When I got stopped by the policeman the first thing I thought was “Why me?” I was only going the speed of traffic and I really am a very cautious driver! There are many days that I think, “Okay I’m strong, I’ve had enough lessons, don’t need to be any stronger, thank you very much!” For those that are struggling with letting go I pass along the following wonderful quote from Lance Armstrong’s ex wife.

    “Only by learning how to let go do we learn how to hold on to what matters. It’s as though the shadows created by loss illuminate what remains; the contrast helps us see with great clarity and appreciation the things we were meant to do, the people who are still with us, and those we love deeply who also love us back.”

  • MindFul MiMi

    I agree 100%. Especially the asking why. When upheaval or a crisis happen it is there, full stop. One should not spend precious time in finding out why this has happened, but just accept that it has and ask questions of number 3 to avoid this crisis happening again in the future. I love Oprah’s saying of number 5 – it is so true.

    And to Michelle: you cannot change the man, you can only change your reaction or behaviour towards him. You cannot make him stop using. You can and should of course tell him what you think about it, what your standpoint is, but you should not ask him to stop. It’s like smoking, one needs to stop for oneself not for someone else. So let him know how you feel. Then it’s up to him to decide whether he values your opinion enough to change his behaviour. No matter what he does, you need to decide what it does to you and whether you can live with it. If not, then you can get out or change your behaviour. But you cannot change his. Good luck.

  • Ramon Olgin

    I was introduced to your website by a friend. Very interesting,very provacative and definitely very empowering!! Thank you for your insight. There are so many times that we fail to see not only the potential growth in the adversity that we may face, but we fail to truly “understand”, that it isn’t about the “trials and tribulations,cause we will all have those, it isn’t even about any of the tests that we will most certainly face, but rather it’s about the “Trusting”.For in “trusting” we can hopefully see and perhaps come to understand that not only can we overcome,but that we have actually truly become “Overcomers”!!

  • Susie Monday

    Another empowering question:
    What is the highest good that can come from this situation for all of the people involved? (And, therefore, can I let what looks or feels like disaster to me be the right choice for someone else?)

    And another option: Breathe. Just stop. Don’t DO anything. See what happens next. Sometimes we rush in to try and recover, fix, undo, make better, etc. when what is most healing is to just step back for the time being.

  • Tammy Vitale

    I got your website to come up! woohoo! It’s always a treat when it just comes on up for me instead of giving me a blank page.
    I love this post (that’s why it came up). Even when we schedule upheaval (I knew what I was doing when I started pushing to the next level with my art…after all, I started at your retreat. =]), it’s scarey. Another art project has dropped in that is scarier yet…”Body Politics” – and it’s definitely got me doing some soul and heart searching.
    Good to know that all of this is within/inside my own power. Nice reminder. Thank you!

  • Danny

    I am emerging from a great upheaval in my life, with lots of smaller upheavals that keep popping up. I am fortunate enough to have great people around me for support. Much of what I have learned from these people can be gleaned from your valuable words above. Thanks for the reminder to stay on target and how to do it, all in one tidy place! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Arrows

    You have posted great stuff here Christine. Glad i ran up on this. I have heard much of this from someone else i know. I am always faced with catching myself in a “rut” and finding it harder to bring aspects of positive goal seeking to my the fore front of my consciousness. I have found that change will force itself upon you sometimes when you are not looking. I think we are all constantly at a crossroads but at each one there is an arrow that points us in the direction we need to go in. The problem we have is identifying the arrows. Thanks, i will check back often.

  • Petra

    I really love this post. Especially Idea #1–what a revelation! Imagine that upheaval (whether macro or micro) is YOUR OWN SELF powering you to make changes or shifts that deep down you know you want. It’s such a great way of taking responsibility (and by extension claiming your own power).

    In my case, it’s not upheaval, but the desparate AVOIDANCE of potential upheaval that this blog entry really speaks to. I really have much work to do on this front and I’m focusing on the phrase “Let Go” for 2008. By letting go of that which no longer works in my life or those things/ideas that I am using to buffer myself from potential upheaval, I believe I will uncover my intent and my path. Thanks, Christine!

  • Christine Kane

    hi michelle – i’m glad this blog helps. and of course, it’s going to require lots of centering on your part to determine which way you need to go. this level of work is intense – i’ll add you to my prayer list! (and i didn’t have time to change the links around on your comments – so we’ll just leave them and people can click all over the place! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  • Michelle

    OK NOW I am linked to the right blog. Please feel free to either correct the first one and delete these other two.

  • Michelle

    Now I am linked to the right URL

  • Michelle

    Christine. I needed this post today more than you know. I am on the cusp of possible upheaval primarily based on living the word I chose for 2008 – authenicity. I am making some changes to live more authentically to myself and to do that there are some feelings I have had that I have to make known to my husband. (I have asked him to stop his recreational use of pot). I want to be strong and self aware and true to myself about how I feel about it for the first time in years. I need to accept that this has NOT been OK with me for awhile.

    It is very scary to hear him say the words to me “I love you enough to stop but I am not sure what this might do to us” (if he ends up resenting me for asking him to stop something he was doing when I married him 5 years ago). Then there is the guilt – if he loves me enough to stop do I love him enough because I am asking him to change something about himself that I knew I was marrying. I have grown in the last 5 years. I am not sure what to say or where this path of my life will lead me. Sorry I am rambling but as always your timing of your insight and posts is so right on. THANK YOU.

    p.s. I used to login with the blog http://authenticallymine.blogspot.com I started the new one that I link to for the purpose of writing what I need to about my current situation above