While you are thinking through these processes, do not let yourself become trapped in *either/or* thinking. Life rarely has to involve only A or B. Often there are Cs and Ds and even X, Y and Z. Often, too, there is a way to combine A and B or whichever. Be creative. Don’t worry about how it’s been done before, or about what people will say. It is what you will say, how you will live, and how you will feel, that are important.
1. Be clear with yourself that you are not settling for living like this forever, and that there is a way to change it. To say that you have no choice simply means that you are rejecting the choices that you do have. It may not yet be time to make decisions, but try to imagine every possible path you could take, even the ones you would probably reject, and see where each path would lead you.
2. Carefully and honestly examine your own contribution to the situation. Based on this, decide what lessons you need to learn so as to change the situation and not recreate it. Do not allow yourself to blame others for everything. They may have had a part, but you probably made some choices too. What were they?
3. Find a true support group. This does not mean a group of friends who will play “ain’t it awful” with you while you play the victim. It means people who will support you when you make wise decisions and give you honest and constructive feedback when you do not, and who will stand beside you regardless.
4. Whatever form this group takes, keep going regularly, speak honestly, listen to feedback without getting defensive. Remember that everyone is there to get help. When it is offered, accept it. When you are able, offer it.
5. Journal regularly about both feelings and events. If you have old journals, re-read them. Seek the patterns in yourself and your situation. Re-read objectively. What advice would you want to give to someone else who had written what you have written?
6. Examine your priorities. What is truly important to you? Is this where you are placing most of your time and energy?
7. Decide, thoughtfully, exactly what it is about your life that you don’t want. Be very precise here. Do not mistake the superficial symptom for the root cause. What is really happening that is causing you problems?
8. Consider what you have that you want to keep. Pause for a moment to express gratitude for it. How much of this would you lose by getting rid of what you don’t want? Is there a way to keep it and still get rid of the unwanted?
9. Carefully and in full and vivid detail, visualize yourself experiencing whatever it is that you do want. Try to imagine yourself experiencing it with all of your senses. Do not let any thought of not having it intrude. Know that, at some level, it is already yours.
10. By the time you have gone through this process you will know what you need to do. Calmly and firmly DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO. Do all of it. When you have done all that you can, don’t keep striving. Release your situation and trust whatever other forces are operating in the universe to operate. You will find your chaos subsiding and being replaced by calm.