Storms: Healthy and Hopeful
The calm before the storm has settled in and we've surrendered to the reality that it's coming. We have an important choice to make now. How will we weather it? The truth is, the only way beyond this storm is through it. Facing the storm and all that it triggers inside of us presents us with opportunities to grow and change. But, what does it look like to move through the storm in health?
Yesterday, I had the privilege of seeing and learning from one of my mentors at a training he was facilitating. Right before I left, he offered this bit of wisdom to the participants: "All transformation begins with personal transformation." I allowed his words to soak in again. I've heard them before and I genuinely need to hear them often because this truth is intricately connected to how we weather life's storms in health.
We will only move forward to the extent that we are willing to look at the unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that exist in our lives in order to address them. Often, storms trigger symptoms of the root beliefs that keep us imprisoned in unhealthy patterns and habits. While many of us may be unaware of the exact triggers, we can begin to notice our behaviors that indicate we're not doing well. For me, I know I'm struggling when I'm...
- ...eating all of the sugar in sight.
- ...peeling my fingernails off (gross, I know!).
- ...having a hard time falling asleep.
- ...starting to become more judgemental towards others and offering less grace.
- ...cleaning my house incessantly.
- ...disconnecting from the people I usually want to spend time with regularly.
And, when two or more of these behaviors are in play, I'm in deep! When I'm able to see this, I have new decisions to make... How will I choose to understand why I'm doing what I'm doing?
Here are some of my personal strategies...
I phone or text or try to grab coffee with a friend. Chances are high that I need relational connection and when I invite a friend to help me process my experience, it typically helps me to gain a greater understanding of the symptoms and my root belief. Plus, it kills isolation and moves me back into community.
Getting out to get some exercise and perspective is another great option for me. Sometimes all it takes to get in touch with my thoughts and feelings is to actively create space to engage them. Being outside is a huge win for me, personally.
The other, more tangible, option to look into the root, is to sit myself down and write out the behavior and consider what I was feeling right before I engaged it. Sometimes, I have to look back over the last few days or the week. Once I identify the feeling or feelings, I look for the thought behind it. I write the thought (or thoughts) out so I can see them in black and white. I ask myself, "Is this true?" It's amazing how many thoughts actually aren't true. Though, often, they have a hint of truth in them which makes them all the easier to believe if I'm not paying attention. I then write the actual truth and practice replacing the old thought with the new thought whenever it comes up.
When I take the time to notice and address my thoughts and feelings, I notice I weather storms very differently. I engage these practices along the way, throughout the stages leading up to the storm, as well. It may feel tiring to consider looking into why we're feeling fear, anxiety, confusion, chaos and the like, but what is the alternative? Allowing these realities to rule us only makes it more difficult to make it through life's storms. But, the truth is, we have to practice and practice requires time and energy.
Transformation doesn't necessarily happen overnight. Like most experiences in life, it is a process. But, the sooner we say "yes," the sooner we will experience the hardships and challenges in life with more peace and grace. After all, when one storm passes, we can be certain that another will develop on a future horizon—whether soon or distant. While this might be a difficult pill to swallow, we don't have to dread the coming storms. We can view them as gateways into deeper understanding, healing, and hope. We can live with positive expectancy—since we made it through the last storm, we have what it takes to weather this one, as well. And hopefully, we'll do so without befriending the things that steal life from us...
- How might you practice today? Whether you are in a storm, see one approaching on the horizon or are storm-less... Today is a good day to begin more deeply engaging your transformational process.
- What habits indicate you're in stress? If you're unsure, ask a trusted friend, spouse, colleague, or family member what they've noticed about you. The people in our lives often have incredible insight into our behaviors.
- How will you address your stress habits? Write out three ideas that will help you move out of stress when you notice that you're operating in it.
Need help? I'm always here and happy to come alongside you. Here's to weathering storms in health and hope from today forward!