How to Cope When You’re Feeling Fragile
Everybody hits a wall sometimes. It’s that feeling you get when you need something or someone to hold on to. You feel that you’re out of gas and don’t have one more smile, conversation, or “atta girl” left in you. Maybe you don’t know what to do. Maybe you do, but you just don’t have the energy to do it. Before we talk about what to do when you’re feeling fragile, let’s first look at what might cause this.
What Leads to Feeling Fragile?
Here are some common things that can lead to feeling fragile.
- breakups of friendships or relationships or fear of loss
- moving away from what’s known, comfortable, and connected
- social distancing or isolation
- healing from trauma
- spiritual breakthroughs
- feelings of loneliness, fear, guilt, jealousy, or shame
- judgments of being unworthy, bad, unlovable,
- being sick, physically frail, or in pain
- sudden, drastic shifts in relationships like abandonment or betrayal
- being overwhelmed with tasks, demands, or emotions
What To Do In the Meantime?
Fragility is a way station between periods of strength. Don’t worry. This is temporary. You’ll get through it. If you have a strategy, you can move through it quickly and without too much distress. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Be Gentle With Yourself. Take it easy. Sometimes you are a warrior and sometimes you are curled up in a fetal position and don’t see the light of day for a while. It’s okay. Do what you have to do. Caterpillars stay inside their cocoons from five to twenty-one days before they emerge as butterflies. You can tap out for a while. Just don’t stay there too long.
Feel Your Feelings. If you want to numb out for a while, do that. If you want to cry, cry. It’s even okay to rage as long as you don’t take it out on others. (It’s really easy to take your fragility out on others. Stay self-aware so that you don’t do something you regret and make it harder on yourself). If you feel your feelings, they will dissipate in time and won’t become baggage.
So savor your emotions. Journal. Make a song about them. Dance them out. Draw them. Let them play in the sunshine so you can see how beautiful they are.
Don’t Do It Alone. It’s tempting to isolate. If you want to do that, maybe it’s a good idea to let someone know so that you can either have someone check on you or witness your process.Your person doesn’t have to “do” anything except be there. It’s okay to not talk or entertain this person as long as they are clear that their role is simply to be present. Knowing you’re not alone brings tremendous comfort in tough times.
Or, if you prefer to have interaction ask for what you want. Go for a walk. Cuddle. Eat something. Watch a movie. Hold hands. Do whatever makes you feel more solid and secure.
No Judging. It’s tempting to be self-critical and tell yourself that you’re being a big baby and you should snap out of it. This is not the time for shoulds or pushing through. This is a meantime, a time for pausing. Your body is forcing you to slow down so that you can savor the potential of this moment. You’re in the process of becoming. If you don’t use the learning from the pain, the overwhelm, the emotions or whatever this moment is giving you, you don’t transform. So don’t judge. Let everything be as it is. It’s all good, and it’s all meant for you.
Practice Good Self Care. Self care keeps you from sliding into depression. It reduces vulnerabilities so never stop doing self care. These are things like getting enough sleep, practicing good hygiene, eating regular, healthy meals, drinking enough water, socializing, meditating, and engaging in a spiritual practice. When you do good self care, your fragile state is more likely to be a moment rather than a lifestyle.
It’s tempting to go overboard with a big splashy spa day. That’s okay if you want to treat yourself, but the small every day tasks of living will ground you more in the end than one big treat.
Grow Your Skills. If your fragile state is more of a baseline than a moment, grow your skills. When you have more skills, you have more options. Skills are things like being able to speak up and ask for what you want, say no when you mean no, being able to make choices that reflect your values, or learning how and when to trust others. While we can’t ever guarantee that we won’t feel fragile again, having more skills may reduce the number of incidents and the intensity of the experiences you have.
It’s normal to feel fragile sometimes. When those days come, all you can do is do you. Hang on. It’s all going to be okay in the end.