The last week has been one of the worst yet since moving to Australia and it’s had me thinking a lot about staying the course through the eye of the storm, but even more than simply staying the course, remaining calm while doing so.
Without getting stuck in the details, it was a reminder of the uncertainty that awaits at any given moment. I know I have said it before – there are no guarantees in life – struggle is a part of the deal. But let’s talk about when life completely throws the proverbial monkey wrench at you and how to remain centered in those moments.
Sometimes it is easier said than done and takes a lot of intention. And for me, having to do so from halfway around the world has proved to have its own set of challenges.
We all have struggles in our life. All of us. And while it is hard to remember that in a world full of perfectly manicured social media feeds, none of us are immune to struggle.
But, I don’t want to focus on what those struggles may or may not be. Instead, I want to talk about being on the other side and what struggle has taught me about facing the eye of the storm with bravery, with strength, with courage, and with a sense of peace that even when things are falling apart, I hold on to the belief that everything will be okay. And I truly do believe that.
Even when you can’t see past the storm, you know it will eventually end. You have faith.
But how do you remain centered in those moments?
One of the biggest factors in being able to remain steady while traveling through choppy waters is the ability to know what you do and don’t have control over.
It took some time for me to understand the full scope of what that meant – the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
While this is a phrase spoken across the world in closed-door meetings, reserved for the recovery community, I want to put it in the context of everyday life. Whether you are dealing with a difficult spouse, a difficult coworker, difficult family members, parenting or work stress, it is a powerful tool that can make all the difference between remaining centered or going completely sideways when life hands you tough moments.
Falling victim to the storm.
A few years ago, a friend of mine and I would sit for hours trying to solve the world’s problems over a bottle of wine on the back deck. A lot of those conversations centered around our careers, particularly the more difficult moments we found ourselves navigating through as we juggled parenting and marriage in addition to hefty professional goals. She was dealing with a less than ideal work situation, particularly in relation to the dynamic between her and her boss.
After weeks of unsuccessfully trying to bob and weave to his reactions, we discussed it and decided she should try a different approach. She wasn’t going to change him – he was who he was. Instead, she needed to change her own reaction to him. Finding her power in the situation had nothing to do with her boss and everything to do with her.
If you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said or done to you, you will never have the fortitude to see past those things, to find the calm in the storm. But when you find the ability – the wisdom – to know the difference between trying to control someone else or simply changing your reaction to situations – you become the captain of your own ship.
And sometimes that is exactly what difficult situations call for – you focusing on you.
If you spend the majority of your time focused on everyone else, particularly trying to fix their flaws or make excuses for their poor decisions, you will soon be the one left as a shell of yourself.
You don’t control anyone else. You only control your reaction to situations. And if you don’t like the situation, maybe it’s time to change your reaction to it. How does the saying go? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.
Instead of fighting a losing battle and trying to control something you have no control over, fight the battle you have every chance of winning – the one with yourself. It is in that moment, when you finally realize the power you have over your own choices and reactions, and nothing else, that a calming sense of peace begins to take over for things like worry and fear.
Life is always going to give you less than ideal situations – be it within your marriage, at work, parenting – rather than getting swept up in the storm of those things, empower yourself to see beyond them.
Next time you find yourself facing the eye of life’s storm, ask yourself what you can control and focus all your energy there. Waiting for you on the other side of the storm is a better version of yourself and a better version of the life you deserve to live.
Cheers to a new week and allowing courage and wisdom to guide you through the storm.