Picture yourself on the highway. As you drive further along your route you see a storm coming but underestimate how powerful it could be. Perhaps you continue onward hoping for it to pass or end quickly. As you press forward it becomes very difficult to see even inches in front of your car. You are forced to pull off to the shoulder on the side of the road. There is nothing to do but wait.
As you look around, other cars are doing the same. You may also notice that your passenger is completely silent and shaking nervously, your three children in the back seat or quiet with a look of terror as the wind becomes more forceful. You try to reassure them but now the car is beginning to tip from the harsh force of the winds. Hail begins to come down on the windows and rain continues to make it difficult for you to see.
You know if you stay on this side of the road there is a likelihood your car will turn over into a ditch and you immediately envision your children hitting the ceiling. What do you do? Do you have the courage to move to the other side of the road where there is less of a chance for your car to tip? Or do you take a deep breath and drive out, despite the risks?
We don’t often find ourselves trapped by weather, but we do see emotional thunderstorms everywhere. They can be at home, at work, or in other parts of our lives. If you find yourself caught in a terrible storm consider the following concepts to help you on move forward in your journey:
Rest and Recovery
Taking time is the most critical component of surviving an emotional storm. Many believe they need to get busy ‘doing’ instead of ‘being’ to help their situation. If you begin to exhaust yourself during a storm without rest your body and mind are unable to perform optimally creating emotional instability. The idea is not to ignore the situation but to make sure that you include plenty of rest before, during, and after the storm hits. Resting allows for clarity and deeper levels of understanding.
Shift Your Gaze
Triggers or reminders are all around you. Each time you wake or lay down to sleep you are preoccupied with your situation leading to vivid dreams or even nightmares. If you are experiencing this level of torture by your storm, it’s time to shift your gaze. Shifting your gaze does not mean to ignore or avoid the problem. It simply means understanding that there is a deeper meaning behind the situation and to focus on that rather than the situation itself. Shift your gaze to the lesson the situation is teaching you. Focusing on the problem will only serve the purpose of keeping you stuck. The lesson can be as simple as not repeating a behavior. When you shift your gaze you begin to develop a greater understanding and acceptance of yourself and your purpose in life.
We understand that fear only serves one purpose and that’s to keep us rooted in confusion, anger, past hurts, etc. Now is the time to remove fear in order to stand upright at a 90 degree angle in a tilted world. Removing fear simply means acknowledging that it exists but choosing not to allow it to dictate your actions.
This can be one of the hardest when trying to move forward with your life. Many people believe they have too much going on to help others. The reality is that even though you are under tremendous amounts of stress, the lessons you are learning about your situation or even yourself could very well help the next person. Pain purifies us and we owe it to ourselves to share this purification process with others. You have no idea how your story could impact someone else that is suffering.
Take the risk of moving yourself out of the storm even if you do not know what is ahead and if that’s too scary, take the steps necessary to move to the other side of the road.
Camishe Nunley is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Trauma Specialist in private practice in Carmel, Indiana, and is a speaker and facilitator with AccelaWork.