When the Storms of Life Are Raging
If the going gets tough, up your resilience by maintaining a strong connection to your foundation.
Last night as rain began rolling through Houston, I was reminded why I love thunderstorms.
Growing up in a farming family, we were hyper-aware of weather patterns, and I always had a respect for the weather’s innate power. Where we lived, it could bring healing rain or devastating floods; cool breezes or fierce tornadoes; fantastic ice sculptures or damaging hailstones.
At some point in my youth, I switched from being scared of storms to finding them beautiful, and I remember many times standing on the back porch watching dark clouds blow in.
As an adult, I still love listening to the rain. I think experiencing weather reminds me that it’s normal for things to happen that are outside of your control. To me, this feeling of essential powerlessness is soothing when I’m struggling with an issue that feels too big to master.
I was sleeping soundly through the storm until my phone started blowing up with severe weather warnings at 3:00 a.m. After verifying the tornado warning was legit, my husband and I took the dog down to the ground floor of our 4-story townhome, just to be safe.
While waiting for the bad weather to pass, I started thinking about how my peaceful little metaphor had basically been blown up after this nice rainstorm turned into yet another major flood event. (That’ll teach me to think in metaphors! A lesson in powerlessness isn’t so subtle when it becomes extra literal, huh.)
After a bit of musing, however, I realized that instead of falling apart, my metaphor had merely been extended.
You see, when the storms of life are raging…when we’re faced with obstacles that seem insurmountable, work that seems beyond our capacity, and goals that seem unreachable…what’s the simplest and safest solution?
Just like my family felt safer on our ground floor, you can calm some of your anxiety and refocus on your goals by remembering the foundation of why you started down your current path.
Return to our foundation. Just like my family felt safer on our ground floor, you can calm some of your anxiety and refocus on your goals by remembering the foundation of why you started down your current path. Here’s the math behind why this adds up:
Foundation = Strength
During a tornado, experts suggest moving to the ground floor of your home, preferably into a room with no windows. In an interior room that’s connected to your home’s foundation and protected from outside debris, you stand a good chance of making it through the storm…even if it passes right over your house.
This is true of your goal-setting and hard-working professional life too. When things get messy, there is strength in connecting back to your foundational mission and eliminating outside distractions:
Why did you become a writer in the first place? What was it you had to say?
Why did you start this company? What was the goal you had to accomplish?
Get back in that headspace and recall the strength it took for you to even set out on this path at all. From that place, you’ll be able to stand firm again on your strong foundation, unwavering even as you’re buffeted by those metaphorical gales.
Even if all you can do is stand – you’ll be safe on your foundation.
Strength = Perseverance
Once you’re in a storm shelter—holding firm to a solid foundation and keeping clear of the wreckage outside—it would be folly to abandon this position of strength.
Similarly, once you’ve harnessed your own position of personal strength, you must hold on to it. Strive to keep a firm grasp on the foundation you’ve (re)discovered, so you can persevere through difficulty. Some examples of how this can look:
Once you remember why you’re writing and what you have to say, now’s the time to develop discipline about working toward your finished product.
Once you remember why you became an entrepreneur and what your mission is, now’s the time to energetically pursue growth in that direction.
The hardest part about connecting strength and perseverance is resisting the urge to revert to your status quo…especially when things get difficult. Try to connect to your foundation daily: write down your goals, create a mantra, or set a habit that starts you out on the right path.
After all, nobody in their right mind would run outside in the middle of a tornado! Neither should you walk away from your mental storm shelter by allowing negativity to steal your focus.
Perseverance = Resilience
Finally, trust that if your shelter preserved you once, it’ll do it again. After the safety of your structure has been proven, you can be sure that it’s available for you to return to if the need arises.
This should go a long way toward creating your own sense of resilience: you’ve been through tough times before, and you can endure them again.
Nothing about this will be easy, but it makes a huge difference to reframe a challenging experience into something you’re capable of handling because you’ve handled it before.
Struggle through writer’s block head-on: you know what you’ve got to say and why you’re saying it, so start getting something on paper.
Beat your business stagnation: you know why you’re pursuing this goal, so find an opportunity to talk about it and teach someone else why your work is important.
By using your foundational principals to find your own perseverance and resilience, you’ll give yourself a chance to see the beauty in life’s storms again.
We can never control what’s happening around us—weather or otherwise—but we can use those experiences to teach us invaluable lessons about how we should move forward to meet the next challenge head-on.
How else do you handle those inevitable challenges? What strategies have helped you keep moving forward even when times are tough?