How can I survive life’s storms?

This past week left thousands of people hauling away fallen trees and working to restore power. The storm that swept the Midwest and East claimed 26 lives as well.

Life brings not only damaging acts of nature but also personal storms–illness, job loss, death of a loved one, relationship break-ups and a host of other disappointments and crises. This month, we’ll explore with you how to not only survive such storms, but also how to thrive in the midst of the turmoil they create.

Life is not predictable.

If you’re like most of us, you recall at least one event that changed your life forever. You remember not only the event itself, but what came before and after it.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, I never imagined facing such a disease. Born with spina bifida, I imagined dying from some condition related to that birth defect. This new diagnosis taught me a lot, most importantly that I’m not in control.

It’s not easy surrendering this illusion of control. You like to believe you can plan your life based on what you’ve learned in the past. ¬†When new events don’t jive with this past, you experience shock, disorientation, loss, anger or confusion. Don’t be surprised when a crisis, setback or obstacle prompts a range of feelings.

If you’re facing a life storm or major change now or if you’d like to reflect more deeply on something that has occured in your past, free-write with these questions as starters. If you’re describing a past event, change the tense of the verbs. If you prefer, do visual journaling, drawing or painting in response to one or more of these questions.

  • What happened? Describe in concrete terms the nature of the life storm or change you are facing. ¬†Document not only the event but how you feel about it.
  • What loss have you experienced?
  • How has this event surprised, shocked, disappointed or otherwise altered your life view?
  • How can you care for yourself in the midst of this event? What feels soothing to you?
  • How can you reach out to others who care about you and will listen to you?

Reflecting on this major life situation will open you to insights from within, as well as potential support and guidance from friends, family and professionals. Share your thoughts here, if you’d like to connect with others.

Next topic on our month of discovery and reflection: Life always changes.

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