As Hurricane Sandy unleashes its fury on the east coast of America, millions of anxious people all along the east coast are living the nightmare.
We all face dramatic storms that change our lives forever. Maybe yours have included the death or serious illness of someone you love, losing your home, prolonged stress or the inevitable but painful end of an important relationship. Sadly, the impact of these events can be devastating, leaving you bruised and battered for years.
Yet, as bad as they can be, major life storms do pass and life does go on, albeit dramatically changed. Life itself is a series of unstable, tumultuous times and quieter periods and while we often can’t change them, we can control how we deal with them.
Regardless of whether you’re currently in the eye of a ferocious storm or enjoying relative peace and stability, it’s wise to have a ‘Storm Kit’ ready for whatever life throws at you next.
Packing a Storm Kit won’t make bad things happen. Like life insurance or airbags in your car, it will mean you’re well prepared. So, let’s pack you a Storm Kit for when the storm clouds next gather in your life.
7 Storm Kit Essentials
1. Create an early warning device
Not so long ago we had little or no warning of pending disasters. In the same way we now the ‘know how’ to predict major storms, you too have early warning devices to anticipate the events that could upend your life.
Listen to your intuition – if something just doesn’t feel right, act on it. Recognise and acknowledge the indicators that tell you all’s not well. Increased conflict in a relationship, significant change at home or work and the health and wellbeing of those you love all provide vital clues.
2. Prepare for the worst and be ready to do and be your best
Once you know that a big storm is on its way, inevitable and that you’ll be right in its path, it’s time to batten down the hatches and prepare.
If possible, get out of the storm’s direct path. Knowing what’s within your control, do what you can to diffuse stress and decide how you want to ride it out. Consciously choose how you’ll respond, put coping strategies in place and be kind to yourself. Remember, you’re stronger and more resilient than you may feel right now.
3. Know your priorities
Write down what’s important. You won’t be able to take everything with you and that’s a good thing! Let go of everything that doesn’t really matter. Offload beliefs, responsibilities and tasks that will suffer if you struggle to maintain them as the storm unfolds.
Focus only on what’s important to clear the clutter of what keeps you busy but doesn’t add real value. If you’re not sure what’s important, clarify your core values and beliefs and use them to guide you.
4. Call on your powerful Inner Resources
Inner Resources are those internal ‘states of being’ we draw on to give us the strength and courage to face the worst that life throws at us. In times of crisis, these include faith, persistence, calm, resilience and perspective.
Think of a time when you’ve survived a potentially debilitating life crisis in the past. What was it that got you through?
Even in your darkest hour, there will be strong beliefs and ways of being that kept you going. Having called on them before, you know with absolute certainty that you can call on them again this time.
5. Have essential emergency supplies on hand
Both practical and emotional, emergency supplies are anything to make the crisis more bearable as the storm passes through your life. Stock up on healthy food, treats that make you feel better and activities to recharge your batteries and help pass the time.
One of my clients who was nursing her father through a prolonged and painful terminal illness, found comfort working on a beautiful tapestry. Sitting next to his bed for long hours as he lapsed in and out of consciousness, she patiently stitched. While it gave her something productive to do, each stitch created a precious bond with her father that would live on long after he was gone.
6. Build a strong support team
This isn’t a time to be stoic and brave – never go through a major crisis alone! Decide who you want in your life at this time and reach out for help. We all need connection with others and this is even more important during a crisis.
Close family, friends and caring professionals will do all they can to help you out and sharing the experience will lighten the load. Even asking for help with something seemingly small will make a big difference.
7. Create a mop-up plan
Knowing this storm will pass, turn your attention to what you will do when it’s all over. Making plans for life after the storm reminds you that life will get better. Major life storms have an uncanny way of bringing you new choices.
How will life be different and what opportunities await you on the other side? Even if you can’t predict exactly how you’ll feel or what life will be like, now’s the time to start planning optimistically for the future.
Change is inevitable and making it through to the other side alive means picking yourself up and moving on, when you’re ready. Give yourself time to heal and with firm resolve, know you have everything you need to move forward to a brighter future.
PS. Even if you’re not currently facing a major ‘life storm’, you may know someone who is. Please share these tips and help lighten their day.