When my kids were little we would sit in the front window surrounded by pillows and blankets and watch the thunderstorms raging outside. The rain would pour, running down the hill like someone trying to catch a bus, and the sky would be black as night, with lighting that flashed huge forks or wide sheets in the distance, just before we would hear the rumble and roar of the accompanying thunder. It was a magical time for the three of us. Huddled together, normally with at least one, if not both of them on my knee; watching the chaos of nature’s fight against the elements, and waiting for the calm order that follows a storm. And if we were early enough in the day when we still had daylight, we would often see an incredible rainbow out in the east. Every part of the experience felt like an incredible gift!
Isn’t life like that? In the same way that nature bring us storms to clear out energy, life too brings us storms to help us clear out our own debris and to bring us new energy. Sometimes we will find ourselves in the thick of it, and sometimes we are sitting on the sidelines just watching it happen.
What kind of storms show up in your life, and how do you get through them?
Here’s my experience of how some people manage the storms of life.
There are the “storm chasers“. These people want the storm. They are the storm; full of drama, and almost desperate to create chaos in their own lives and anyone else’s who gets caught in the spin. They persuade you to come on board even if you don’t want to. They avoid any kind of cleaning up, and will do anything they can to reinstate that storm situation. Never happy with calm, you can see them coming, a whirlwind surrounding them, as they appear to chomp at the bit. There’s always a great story, and frequently some kind of powerful argument.
There are the “storm keepers”. These people have a storm brewing inside but it’s always just below the surface, much like the kettle you keep brewing on the stove. Never coming to a head, they seldom come right out and face it. Instead they refuse it exists. When you ask them if something’s bothering them, they adamantly deny it, making you feel like you’re going crazy. But they use the energy of their inner storm to motivate them to get things done, even though nothing ever really changes. They find that their low level simmer gives them significance and safely keeps them from ever really dealing with anything.
There are the “storm sleepers”. They wouldn’t even know a storm was around them even if their life depended on it. They are unaware of any kind of energy, good or bad. They feel low level discontent or a general numbness and accept it as normal. Keeping their heads well behind the curtains of the storm they ignore themselves and everyone else, and exist almost on auto pilot.
Finally, there are the “storm troopers”. These individuals know what a storm looks like, and how to navigate their way around it. They know when to take cover, and when to muck right in. They know which storm is theirs, and which storm belongs to others. They can rationally evaluate the storm, use what is helpful, and come out the other side feeling the better for the experience. They get the gift.
- Next time there’s a storm coming, think about what you do? Are you the cause, or do you run and hide? Do you even notice, or do you face it head on?
- Watch the people around you and see what they do? Can you see which one of the above types they are, and if so, how does that affect you?
- Notice what kind of outcome you want to have as a result of the storm? Do you want it to continue, or are you happy for it to run its course, and then move on? How do you handle the aftermath?
- Understand yourself and your reaction to situations and others. This is the only way to change an outcome. If you discover you are the storm, get help. No one wants to be around this. If you know you carry the storm and want to let it go, there are many ways to deal with this. Find something that works. If you are immune to any storm know that this is not great either. As emotionally healthy beings we naturally flow through all emotions.
- I have a myriad of tools available to use with clients to help them with these kinds of situations. The process can be calm before, during and after the storm.
- If you are lucky enough to be someone who can handle storms with calm and order, know what’s yours and what’s theirs, see the gift in the experience, and congratulate yourself!
When we have the ability to recognize our own feelings, and the ways in which we deal with the things that happen in our lives we have a level of emotionally maturity. Anything we do, can and does, affect those around us, and impacts the level of satisfaction in our relationships, especially at work and in our personal life. If you recognize yourself here, and think you need help with this don’t hesitate. Get help now.
Sometimes thunderstorms can be scary. They are very powerful, and this is true of the storms we face in our daily life. I know being there for my kids provided a foundation and a safety for them to experience and live through those thunderstorms in a way that has set them up for their future. Neither of them are afraid of thunderstorms, that’s for sure!
It’s your responsibility to do the same for yourself, as a leader and even more if you are a parent. Don’t forget that any of the above “storm life roles” affect your health and those around you, now and in the future.
I have always loved thunderstorms and maybe it’s the power of the energy or the fact that I too felt safe wrapped up in my children’s arms! We need each other when things get scary. A coach can help you when it seems that your landscape is a little stormy.
Let me know if I can help, although I can guarantee that you’ll be too big to sit on my knee!!!