Chaos Theory

Chaos. It’s probably not an unfamiliar concept. Do you ever feel like your life is spinning out of control? That all those balls in the air — your love life, career, your finances and your mood — are spiraling into the atmosphere? Chances are it has little to do with your periodic orbits or your luck.

Chaos Theory is a bit of a contradiction. Simply put, it’s a mathematical concept that explains behavior that appears to be random, completely outside the auspices of order and predictability. The irony of chaos theory is that it pertains to phenomena that are not random or “chaotic” at all, but defined by clear, well-defined causes. So when everything in your life seems to be turning on you, it’s time to look at what all the variables have in common. How much of your chaos is caused by you?

Out of orbit: Too many balls in the air
One clear way we lose clarity is by taking on more than we can realistically handle. You might feel like you’re up for everything — the job, the family, the personal life and everything between — and sometimes you probably are. Most of us don’t take on too much because we’re self-destructive. It’s just that once one aspect of your life gets hectic, it takes a toll on all the others, and when we don’t leave any margin for ourselves, it’s not long before everything is caught in the tailspin.

It’s not terrible to be ambitious. And a laid-back schedule is a luxury few can afford. But when you’re piling on the responsibilities, remember that the time will come when you need to make allowances. Should your car break down on the way to take the kids to school before a big meeting, you’re not going to be able to promise to have them there in 20 minutes and swear you’ll have an agenda ready before lunch. It’s just not in your control. Get help with the kids if you can; then call in late — a little later than you expect. If you can exceed your expectations — great. But don’t set demands on yourself that are unrealistic from the beginning; you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Admitting you need help and making the time you need to deal with the unexpected isn’t dropping the ball. It’s limiting your problems to one setback before it starts a chain reaction that causes more chaos than anyone needs.

Chaos reflected: How do you see you?
Your self-image has everything to do with your performance. You are destined to become what you see in yourself and live the life you expect to live. Feelings of incompetence, hopelessness or helplessness affect how you react to each and every situation, and your feelings will continue to inform your life whether you recognize them or not. Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to get what you need.

A lot of times we ignore our moods, thinking sadness is common and thus unimportant, or that dwelling on it is self-indulgent. The reality is that your feelings have very real consequences on your life, and ignoring them can be expensive, even devastating. Sometimes the answer is finding an outlet; writing in a journal, talking with friends or doing anything that makes you feel good about yourself can turn a bad week around. Other times a short break or vacation is in order. And should that fail, don’t write off seeking help from outside sources. There is a wide variety of anti-depressants available, as well as therapists who are willing to accommodate your schedule, budget and communication style. Millions of people turn to these options for a reason. They work. They’re a pretty attractive solution to feeling lousy.

Forming a clear trajectory: What do you want?
It’s hard to find structure in your life when you’re not sure where you want it to lead. And if you’re headed in too many directions, it won’t be long before you’re feeling frustrated and fragmented. As satisfying as it is to be passionate about everything, knowing what you want most can give your life the driving force you crave. Visualize the life that will make you happy. If you could only have one part of it — one person, one goal, one interest — what would it be? It doesn’t mean you have to drop everything else, but choosing a single priority can help restore clarity and purpose. After that, things have a way of falling into place.


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