There will be storms in your life. Losing a job or a loved one, financial ruin, betrayal of a close friend… these things happen. Though you cannot control external circumstances, you can prepare yourself to weather life’s storms when they come.
“Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
How do you weather life’s storms?
1. Accept the circumstances
It is natural when things go wrong to wallow in self-pity and wish that things were different. You may question the fairness of life, and experience strong feelings of anger and resentment.
While it is not wrong to feel this way, the gap between the way you want things to be and the way they really are creates an enormous tension within yourself. Not only do you have to weather life’s actual storms, you are also fighting another self-created storm inside.
The sooner you accept that things are this way and they are not going to change no matter how hard you wish, the earlier you can start to deal with the real situation.
2. Anchor yourself
You want all the stability you can get when everything around you is heaving. For some people, the anchor will be religion. Going to church or praying frequently can be an important stabilising act.
Having a routine is another possible anchor. This could take the form of daily exercise, journalling every night, or making a regular phone call to a friend at night.
This is not a good time to make other changes in your life, though you may be tempted to as a means of escaping the current situation. Don’t change jobs, move house, start drinking, get married, get divorced, or have another child. Do yourself a favour and deal with just one thing at a time.
3. Move forward gently
Experienced sailors know that when a boat is in choppy waters, you don’t head straight into the waves. Instead, approach at a roughly 45 degree angle. This prevents the boat from crashing headfirst into every wave, and eases it as gently as possible into the swell.
In the same way, you should be gentle with yourself as you manoeuvre through your own storm. Shield yourself as much as you can. Avoid negative, pessimistic or critical people. Set some boundaries. Relinquish some of your responsibilities at home, work or other areas of your life if possible.
Don’t expect too much of yourself at this time in your life, or feel guilty for not looking after every one else. Your goal right now is simply to make it through the storm intact.
4. Ask for help
A good crew understands that it’s “all hands on deck” when a storm comes. Your true friends will know this too, and probably offer to help. Accept their offer. If they don’t offer, it could be because they are afraid to come across as pitying or patronising. Ask for their help, and both parties will be relieved.
Try to be specific about what help you need. In your friends’ eagerness to be useful, they may do all kinds of things for the sake of just doing something. You can direct their energies in a way that is helpful to you, and makes them feel genuinely useful.
Besides friends, you could approach professionals who may be able to help. Depending on your situation, you may need the help of a medical specialist, lawyer, counsellor or spiritual guide. Ask around for recommendations. Some professionals and organisations offer their services free or for a low fee if the case is deserving.
5. Stay on course
When things get rough, you may be tempted to give up because it just doesn’t seem worth it. Sometimes it feels easier to stop trying. Yet if you give in, you will miss out on much of life’s adventure. You were born to live, and this is part of living.
“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” – Vincent van Gogh
Weather life’s storms… till the storm passes
Storms don’t last forever. Sunny skies will come again. And you will appreciate the good times all the more. And when the next storm comes, you’ll be better skilled and able to help not just yourself but others as well.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene
For more on weathering life’s storms, read Welcome to Your Crisis: How to Use the Power of Crisis to Create the Life You Want