Today I wanted to get really real with you guys and talk all about that downward spiral, that place in which sometimes we feel like if there’s no return. We all fall into that place at some point or another. While those downward spirals may not always be unavoidable, you CAN always find a way back out. So I’m sharing some of my personal stories and strategies on how I manage to get out of those dark spots in life so that you can too.
I specifically remember feeling this way when I first got the diagnosis with my son Zachary. He was diagnosed with being on the autism spectrum, and it happened around the age of 18 months to three years. I mean, within that time I, all I thought was “woe is me.” I felt the pain. I kind of reclused to myself. I wasn’t dealing much with the outside world because it felt like if my world just was going out of complete recognition. Well, it happened a few months before when his dad and I, we separated. We were like post-college sweethearts and we were together from a very, very long time. So after being married and having this child, you would think, you know, the white picket fence and the beautiful house and all the things that we imagined that then necessarily come into place.
That was the beginning of that downward spiral, that feeling of, “oh my goodness, who am I anymore?” I once thought myself as, “okay, I’m going to be this wife. I’m going to be this professional.” Like I had all these dreams in my head and being basically you ripped it out, and that began the downward spiral. Fast forward to later to our separation, that spiral continued because now I’m really questioning my value. I’m really questioning who I am as a person, and then here comes more. There’s the diagnosis. There is me seeing these signs of this beautiful baby boy that I just thought was going to be this one thing. You know the thing we have in our head of what they’re going to become? Then I was told that this was no longer.
So that began more of the spiral and what I really recall is just feeling lost, like I was a shell. I was walking around moving around in action. As a speech therapist and audiologist, I made sure he was getting what he needed. However, I was just an empty shell. I was walking around, I was smiling on the outside, but inside there was complete turmoil. Complete not knowing what my next steps were going to be, and almost complete at a space where I didn’t even like my life anymore to be honest.
The reason why I’m sharing this is because I know speaking to one of my clients this week who is in the process of going through that feeling of a downward spiral, and she turned to me and she asked me, “you know, Dr Ali, how do I get out of this?” And I just began to share with her my journey. A lot of people see what they see now, not knowing that we all have a story. We all have a journey. We all have something that we went through that we felt completely lost – like if the floor underneath us was just removed and we’re just like floating there like, “oh my God, where’s the floor?” And I said it’s is basically looking for the floor. And I helped her by helping her to understand my journey. So as I share my journey with you today, definitely let me know which ones resonated the most with you. I want to make sure this is interactive. I want to make sure you’re leaving your comments, sharing this blog with others, especially those who may walk around as a shell. We know that there’s more than meets the eye and sometimes just sharing it out with people so that they may not tell you what’s going on, but they’ll be able to say, “oh my goodness, someone out there is going through what I am going through! I feel like my life is just in a downward spiral and I’m gasping for air. I’m gasping for help.”
Tip Number 1: Recognize what your downward spiral looks like.
So the first thing I had to begin to learn was recognizing what does that downward spiral look like to me? And I began to see what signs, how it showed up. Now let me just warn you, hindsight is the best sight. So I’m coming at you from looking back into that journey to those of you who are in this journey. Now use this as an opportunity to just recognize, am I in that downward spiral? Am I in that space where I’m not sharing anything with anyone? I’m pretty much always by myself. I’m choosing to be by myself. I eat my pain. I eat or not eat because it could be the complete opposite. I just see myself emotionally eating, not even hungry or just trying to fill this void. Some people may feel the void with with extracurricular activities, whether it’s too much sex, too much smoking, too much of anything. Gambling, just looking for spaces, relationships being either being with too many people where you just don’t want to be by yourself, or the other end of the spectrum – being by yourself so much where you don’t want to be with people. For me it looked like I just withdrew to myself. I got to myself. I didn’t really want to see outside much. I would go out to work and then I would come back home and to even get to go work out or to do anything that was physically stimulating, just was not interesting to me. And I would sometimes just go in and go out, go to work, come back in and watch TV. Like that was it.
And my Zachary would engage. He would try to do things with me and I just was not even interested. I would engage a little bit with him, but since he was autistic, he’s already in his own world. So we were like two ships in the sea, like just two people, two things, two beings being with each other but not with each other. Like the connection and the communication was very, very minimal. If that’s you right now, then just identify that to me. Let me know. Let’s see how we can help you and give you some tools besides what we’re doing today. Some additional tools of how to move past this downward spiral. So the first thing like I mentioned, is identifying how does it show up in me? What does it look like? You know, what’s the physical manifestation of this downward spiral so that I can identify when I see it coming, because it’s just gonna come out of nowhere and guys, I can promise you a downward spiral comes back again. It’s not just the, it happens once and it’s done. We just have different periods of different triggers that that will reignite that downward spiral. That’s why I know everyone that’s reading here has had that moment.
Tip Number 2: Ask for help.
The second thing I began to learn was to ask for help. Once I began to recognize it, I began to tell my friends. I began to get coaching. I began to tell my mom like, “don’t leave me in here too long”. You know, it was a way of,” hey, if you see me do this, then you know, call me or come visit me or let me get myself back into my regular routine.” Making sure that I let others know not to leave me alone out here on this island basically. So hence the reason the importance of me doing this today was so that you know that you are not out there on that island. And if you do need to reach out to someone, definitely schedule a 15 minute chat with me at www.draligriffith.com/contact/ You’ll find access to my calendar and we can just talk through some of these things and help you to see what are those physical manifestations of what your downward spiral looks like. Number two, figuring out your help source, create your support squad. Some may need mental counseling, some may need spiritual counseling. Let’s just help get you clear on those next steps.
Tip Number 3: Use shifting exercises.
The last thing I like to say for me is I began to really use shifting exercises. I will always call them, you know, my shifters and a lot of the shifting exercises came from gratitude. And I’m super excited to invite you to my Mompreneurs on Fire 2.0 live event from March 28th and 29th in Brooklyn, New York. If you’re interested in learning some of these practices in person, if you’re interested in putting together your own personal development kit, it’s like what I want to call it your toolkit, then make sure you join us a go to www.mompreneursonfire.com to get your ticket and you’ll learn more about how to navigate that downward spiral when you’re a parent, when you’re still focusing on trying to maximize your own life. And for those of you out there who want to start moving towards creating profit and moving more towards using your purpose and passion towards prosperity, so all of that in a ball, we’re going to do that in person! So I look forward to you joining us.
So my first gratitude exercise is soon as I wake up, I make sure I write down or speak out loud, 10 things that I’m grateful for. That’s an immediate shift. Those are ways to help me to shift back into reality, even through the downward spiral. It helps me to realize that wait a minute, being present right now to what I am grateful for can help the process. Does it get rid of the process? Absolutely not. But if you begin to create a morning routine and you get to choose your morning with routine, some people would use prayer, some people use meditation, some may use all of the above. So think about what are you grateful for right now? I’m grateful for having this platform where I can just use my value and use my gifts of connecting and communicating and empowering to help you that are reading out there. So that’s what I’m grateful for. I’m grateful for air. I’m grateful for the ability to have the technology to do this. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve been through, my life experiences, the good and the bad. I’m grateful to be able to be on the other side and sometimes through the actual process of what’s happening and being able to just come and share it with you so that you are not out there in that space feeling alone. So we got our shifters, we have our 10 things we’re grateful for. Some of us can use some of my on meditation tracks and go into that.
Another thing I love to use and I said it before, is visualization. There’s nothing like me imagining myself on that beach with that piña colada in my hand and just watching that water. It’s my happy place. It’s my safe space and it’s where I go to when need to shift out of things. The last, but certainly not least, is that one person in my life that always makes me smile and that’s my son, right? That’d be your main, it might be your mom, your dad, that person that as soon as they smile, it just brightens up your heart on the inside. Sometimes I’ll just visualize that we’re smiling or laughing. There’s something about the sound of laughter, you know, the full experience. Visualize a full experience where you’re smelling it, tasting it, you’re feeling it. Everything about this visualization just feels so real that it begins to shift you into gratitude and it begins to shift that spiral. Instead of going down, you start to come back up a little bit more towards the surface.
So I hope you enjoy some of what I shared today. Make sure you check out some of my other blog posts while you’re here. There’s so many different topics whether you need more mindset shifts, autism parenting advice, business strategies, and more. Leave me a comment and let me know which tip I shared resonated with you the most.
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