The “Storm”.

This is how I call any challenging situation, any hard time in life, that brings turbulence in my inner –hard-won- balance. I call it like that not only because it is -objectively- a difficult moment in your life. But mainly because it blows a strong wind inside your mind, it makes you feel you have no shelter to protect yourself, it thunders against all what you have believed and dreamt so far, it pours you into an emotional rollercoaster, and all this you have to fight it by yourself.

We all have been in a situation where we feel overwhelmed by an inner conflict, a stressful thought, an uncertain future, a difficult BIG decision or a challenging transition. And yet, it’s even harder to visualise ourselves eventually out of such a situation. Somehow we believe that this “storm” is here to stay. ​

Is that true? Have we ever been to a situation that has been forever confusing/ painful/ negative/ etc? If not, why do we find it so difficult to envision that the Storm will eventually stop?
During a stressful period, we are trapped within the negativity chain:
One setback connects with a possible (sometimes, even impossible) negative outcome ->
This outcome brings along more worries and doubts ->
Consequently, we start “feeling it” more: more stress, more fear, more sadness, more despair ->
Being in such a low mental energy state, we get more demotivated and we try less, in comparison to what we would have done if we felt inspired and hopeful ->
Eventually, we see evidence of “things getting worse”, since we avoid, or even stop, trying ->
It makes sense to stop trying when the only thing you expect is the worst, right?

Now, as one can imagine, this is the vicious circle of negative thinking.
You see everything in black and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. How can you believe in a more optimistic future then? How can you see the change?

When today is so heavy, how can you spare a light thought about tomorrow?

And yet, it takes only one thought to make it stop:

One day we will laugh about it. ​

What does that mean?

This means that whatever we are going through, is temporary. It will last for a while and then it will go away. And better days will come. Problems always existed, exist and will exist. But they always come and go. Sick people become healthy again. Divorced people remarry. Unemployed people find a new job. And so on. That’s how life flows.

How long will it take?
It depends. The more aware we are of the situation and its background, the stressful thoughts and the way we sabotage ourselves and the more we try to bring up some realistically positive change, the sooner we will come out of the Storm. ​

What can I do to help the Storm leave me sooner?
First of all, let’s acknowledge the fact that all people have met/meet/will meet the Storm, at least once in their lives: a breakup, a death, an identity crisis, losing a job, moving to a new place, you name it….
The Storm is hard to bear. But at the same time, there is a silver lining in there. Probably a bigchange was much needed in our life, and now was the time for that. Perhaps, we needed a new way or relating/ communicating/ integrating, and that’s the lesson to be learned. When the change is done and we have settled down again, then the “stormy weather” eases down, as well.

How positive do I need to be?
I would say, let’s stay realistic, instead of (super-)positive. The Storm cannot go away right now, not even the following day. It will take some time, it will soothe gradually, and then it will fade away. It is the time we need to get adjusted to the new situation, to become friends with our new identity, role or condition. Let’s not carry such heavy expectations as “I want to be happy again TOMORROW!”. It only makes us feel like we are failing again for not succeeding in something (as impossible) as that.

Let’s see it as a continuum, where between “unhappy” and “happy again”, there is plenty of space and time for: less sad, less angry, more in peace, saving energy, more hopeful, etc..

Take Action now:
-Sleep enough, eat well, exercise daily. This is the baseline of well-being.
-Talk to a friend, to a colleague, to a support group, to a counsellor.
-Don’t be afraid to ask. Or give. Both have healing power.
-Think out of the box, be creative in the ways you can feel better. Try something different.
-Hang out with people you like and you share same values and interests.
-Remind yourself many times a day that you are doing the best you can. And that’s enough.

Looking forward to your comments and, of course, your ideas to get out of the Storm!

Kind regards,

Vassia Sarantopoulou