Staying Centered During Life’s Storms
How to Not Get washed away by the wave!
Years ago a family member going through a rough time came across this breathtaking print of a person standing in the doorway of a lighthouse (see image later in the article). The stormy waves were crashing high above the lighthouse. She bought the print to hang on her wall as a reminder that life’s storms are temporary.
Years later, she loaned me that same picture to hang in my office during a season of my life that felt like it was going to swallow me whole.
Then a few years later yet, I loaned it to my son to hang above his bed during a rough patch following high school graduation when he was struggling to decide which direction to go.
Now, a few years again I’m loaning the picture to another family member to inspire her through a life storm.
What’s interesting is that I see the print so much different than I did at first. Previously, I looked at it and I saw the giant waves — it would catch my breath and send a rush of panic through me. What if that person got washed off the lighthouse? What if they fell into the raging ocean? They would have no chance of survival.
Yet, that’s how I often felt. Through money worries, job dissatisfaction, and relationship stress — each one felt as if it could swallow me and I’d never return. The fear, the emotion, the panic that set in stored deep in my body. These life circumstances usually seemed out of my control and kept me dancing to someone else’s tune.
Then, one day I made myself a promise. I would no longer base my life decisions on people and circumstances outside of myself. I would no longer abandon or ignore the deep inner voice and wisdom even when it didn’t make sense. That meant I needed to learn to deeply trust, love and respect that deeper part of myself.
The Journey to Find My Center
The type of deep inner work I’m talking about here is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for those who hope change will come through a mantra to chant, a vision board to stare at, or forcing yourself to be “positive” when inside all you want to do is cry.
I’ve done all of those things and more. It’s not that they don’t have some impact. They do. But until we become super comfortable with discomfort and uncertainty it’s difficult to get deep enough into our inner foundation where the work really needs to be done.
We can learn to find the calm below the turbulence.
It requires one to be still enough to listen to what comes up and see the patterns that can’t be seen in motion.
Avoiding the Cultural Sting of stillness.
Our culture glorifies the action/doing of “hustle” “hard work” and action for the sake of action “at least your doing something.” It devalues being/stillness as “lazy” “taking advantage of” and “worthless.” We are taught that our personal value and worth come from what we are doing there for the idea of slowing down long enough to be can feel extremely uncomfortable.
I spent many years avoiding the lessons of being by running in different directions, chasing what I thought would make me happy and content.
Maybe you recognize some of these things in yourself:
- Moving to the next house/town/location is exactly what you want.
- Buying a house/vehicle/car to “keep up with the Jones”
- Changing Jobs (only to find the same irritating people with different names at the new one!)
- Changing relationships
- Going on endless new diet or exercise plans.
- Being so busy you are perpetually exhausted.
These are some of the things I did myself and see many of my clients do that keeps us looking in the wrong direction for security and answers.
They keep us in the storm. We fight and struggle to control the waves of life circumstances needing them to look and be a certain way before we can be O.K. It’s a strategy that keeps us off balance and means peace and security can only be attained when the life waters are calm.
But guess what! That’s not reality! We live in a world where Sh!t happens. Unexpected viruses interrupt our normal life, financial losses happen, layoff’s come, a partner stresses us out, a teenage child makes a choice we don’t like. We have chosen to label these circumstances “bad” and an entirely different set of circumstances as “good.” Then decided that we can be O.K. only if the “good” circumstances show up in our life.
This way of living keeps us exhausted. Burned out. Riding waves of fear. On edge. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Shift in Perspective
What if you could shift your perspective and see the storm differently? What if that storm really was not “bad” but a much-needed experience that is acting as a teacher and giving you the opportunity to clear out old fear and emotions.
I had a recent conversation on my podcast with Tame the Inner Chaos Coach Janet Hudson on this very thing. We talked about releasing the emotions trapped inside and how to turn inward to find calm.
Turning inward to listen for intuitive inner guidance gives us a much more secure path to follow. It requires us to learn to slow down and “be.” It’s like standing inside the lighthouse while the storm rages. It’s secure. It may be uncomfortable. It may feel a bit uncertain as the wind howls and the rain crashes. Yet it gives you the opportunity to be fully alive in the present moment.
When you learn to turn inward for security the storms no longer hold the threat they once did. I changed my perspective to see that every life circumstance was there to help me clear out old emotions, fears, and “inner garbage” that I no longer needed.
I also changed who I was listening to. I stopped asking for the advice of every person around me. I stopped incessantly reading self-help books to see how to fix myself and instead began listening to my true inner spirit. I call it EOMS (eye-MS) short for Eyes of My Soul because that’s how I have come to know my inner wisdom.
EOMS see without limitation and filter. They see the truth of what I’m afraid of and how I can release that fear if I’m willing to look at it. It guides me through and to circumstances up ahead that I physically can’t see yet.
It’s why our Inner voice often doesn’t make sense. It’s why we can only trust that it DOES make sense by doing as it leads and then seeing the outcome.
The inner voice provides the magical key to deep inner peace and joy.
It reminds me of the song we used to sing as children “It is well with my soul.” It’s only when we learn how to use this magical key that one realizes that deep inner peace has nothing to do with the storms and waves and life circumstances. We can find joy in being and trusting the inner wisdom that keeps us solid and stable as the light house no matter what the storm….or beautiful rainbows and magical blue skies!
So today when I look at the lighthouse print sitting in my living room about to go to its new home…what I see most is the strength, majesty, and stability of the lighthouse. I see the wisdom and strength of its foundation and graceful spire. I see how it stands true… shining its beacon for all to see in clear and cloudy skies.
Is there a storm in your life today? I challenge you to use it as an opportunity to turn inward and see where it is calling you to grow in wisdom and strengthen your own foundation so that you can share your light, wisdom and grace with the people around you.