Falling Forward on Familiarity: How to Transcend Chaos

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Whenever life is too much to endure, I fall forward into what’s familiar to weather the chaos. I do the things that I enjoy doing until some order returns no matter how long it lasts. 

What’s familiar allows me to think less about whatever it is that I’m enduring and more about simply making it through. All I have to do is make it through to the other side

Habits, routines, daily practices, hobbies, and childhood passions are the key to falling forward.

Reading, journaling, lifting weights, taking walks with my family and dog, swimming, biking, running, connecting with friends are but a few trusted outlets that not only help me endure but thrive through the upheaval. 

It is the act of doing something different than the chaos-inducing action where I can show up and go through the motions even if my heart isn’t all in it. The physical and cognitive movement uproots me out of the swirling feedback loop of inaction and forces my focus elsewhere. 

In time, I learned to fall forward in anticipation of challenges, obstacles, or chaos, though some situations don’t allow warning. 

Falling, here, is a metaphor for going with the movement instead of wallowing in place. Sure, some things we experience are so incredibly traumatic that we need to give ourselves some grace. But, not for too long. The doing of something familiar when we have no idea where to begin is an act of healing that drives us through the uncertainty until we can find our footing and generate momentum.

When and how do I apply this in real life?

Most often before and after moments or sequences of stuttering when I am pushed to my limits of endurance, though it is applicable to all life disrupting circumstances. 

For example, the traumatic interview I wrote about a month ago in Stuttering Edge. In anticipation of enduring stress, I journaled the morning of the interview to get out of my head and into real life where I can oppose paralyzing thoughts. I also used it as an opportunity to plan how I would self-disclose stuttering. Journaling has become a trusted daily practice that now takes little effort. For the days and weeks after the interview, I continued to journal, took long walks, kept to my workout routine, and connected with my wife—all to return my life to normal from such a disruptive experience. 

Falling forward is movement towards resolving that which impedes progress. There will always be challenges to transcend in life but having the know-how to do things that brings back stillness as both a proactive action within our control and a means to understanding that we will be okay. 

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