by Gladys Diaz
I have a quick question for you:
Have you ever felt helpless?
It’s one of the most vulnerable feelings in the world!
And I have to admit that I do not like feeling that way… at all!
So, it goes without saying that the last couple of weeks – between prepping for, living through, and cleaning up after Hurricane Irma –have been a bit challenging, to say the least.
(Before I go on, I just want to say that, if you or your loved ones were affected by the storm – or any of the storms and natural disasters that have been impacting us lately – know that you are in Michelle’s and my prayers and that we hope you are safe and that you have not experienced too much damage or displacement.)
Going through the storm brought up so many fears and anxieties.
There is something about the feeling of helplessness that comes with not knowing what to expect, what is coming next, whether what you have done to prepare is enough, and what will happen to the people you love and your possessions.
I spent days running around, going from store to store, looking for the most basic things, like water, only to find that the shelves were bare, no one could tell me when a new shipment would arrive, and wondering if what we had at home was enough. It was so scary to see that some of the things I was taking for granted would be there when I got to the store were gone and not knowing whether I would be able to get the things I knew I needed to take care of my family.
Then came the actual storm – the howling wind; the terrifying alarm on our weather radio, letting us know that there was yet another tornado in the area, and the sound of the trees in our backyard cracking and crashing to the ground.
And, all the while, there were the fearful thoughts:
What do I do?
Have I done enough?
How long will this last?
Will we be okay?
What’s interesting is that those feelings of helplessness don’t only come up around nature’s storms.
You feel them during life’s storms, too.
When you’re going through a breakup…
When you keep attracting and experiencing heartache after heartache…
When you see your relationship is falling apart…
Those same feelings of fear, uncertainty, and wondering whether what you have done is enough to prevent further pain and disappointment is enough fill us and can shake us to our core.
So, what can you do during life’s storms to not have fear and anxiety take over and rob you of your peace and happiness?
1. Stay present. I know this one is sometimes easier said than done, but it is the FIRST step in reducing fear and anxiety. Why? Because fear is always a “future experience.” While you may be afraid of repeating something that happened in the past, the fact is that what you fear is that it will happen again, in the future.
What’s more, fear is never “real.” It is only ever an imagined thought.
Now, hear me out on this. Am I saying that what you fear will never happen?
What I am saying is that 99.999% of the time, the thing that you fear and/or are anxious about isn’t something that is actually happening right now, in the present moment. Instead, your thoughts are about what you are afraid may or may not happen in the future.
The problem with this is that, while you are imagining something that may or may not happen in the future, you are allowing it to rob you of your peace in the present.
So, the only way to interrupt the fearful thought pattern is to remind yourself that here and now, in the present moment, you are safe and the thing that you are thinking of is not actually happening.
This practice is life-changing.
Left unattended, fearful thoughts will rob you of your peace, of your ability to appreciate and experience what you DO have, and block future happiness – and love – from making its way to you.
This is why developing a powerful and empowering relationship with your fears is one of the first things we teach our clients when they begin working with us.
Imagine how incredibly empowering it would be to learn how to distinguish, dismantle, and replace a fear in 60 seconds or less!
As I said: Life-Changing!
2. Focus on what you CAN control. During the storm, there were many things I could not control – the force, sound, or direction of the wind; the path the storm was taking, the power going out or coming back on.
There were, however, many things I WAS able to control: Making sure our home was safe; ensuring we had enough food, water, and ice; being calm and strong for my kids.
Similarly, during life’s storms, there are things you can’t control, such as whether or not someone calls you or asks you out on a second date; how your partner chooses to feel; what your guy wants to say or do.
However, there are many things you can control, such as your thoughts, words, actions and reactions; what you allow to upset or trigger you; the feelings and thoughts you choose to have and how you choose to express them.
When you begin focusing your time, energy, and attention on the things you CAN control, you begin to feel more peaceful, confident, and empowered. You are not at the mercy of the storm. Instead, you get to choose how you will navigate through it with dignity, ease, and grace.
3. Ask for and receive help. This is another one that can be difficult, especially for powerful, successful women. You’re used to being strong, the one in charge, the one people come to for help and answers to their questions. Asking for help makes you feel vulnerable, because you can make it mean that you’re not strong or capable enough to do things on your own. You fear that the vulnerability may be interpreted as weakness or incompetence.
However, quite the opposite is true!
It takes so much courage, authenticity, and inner strength to reach out for help. It takes even more of these to accept and receive the help.
I can’t tell you how many people I offered to come stay with us so they could have air-conditioning once our power came back, to take the water we had left over when they shared that they were under a boil-water order, and to use our generator when their power was still out. What I can tell you is that every one of these offers was not accepted at least once!
I heard responses like, “I’m used to toughing things out,” “I’m okay with sacrificing,” “Don’t worry about me. I’ll figure something out” – even after a week of not having power or being able to drink or use the tap water!
And so many powerful women do the same thing during life’s storms!
You don’t reach out for help or support so that you won’t seem weak.
You believe that struggling and “suffering” through the heartache is somehow “noble” or makes you stronger.
You deny help and support because you feel as if you “should be able to figure this ‘relationship thing’ out on my own.”
And, so, the suffering, pain, and heartache persist – many times for much longer than is necessary – when, instead you could turn the situation around, end the suffering, and begin enjoying the love and happiness much, much sooner, which is what you really want.
There’s no honor or glory in unnecessary martyrdom or sacrificing.
Instead, reach within, acknowledge that you could use some help, a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear, the right guidance to help you get to the other side of the storm with the results your heart desires.
Life’s storms will come. You don’t have much choice in that… That part’s not “optional.”
What you can choose is to face the storm with peace of mind and heart, strength, and the commitment to get to the other side of it.
What is optional is whether or not you make the time you spend in the eye of the storm peaceful, short-lived, and empowering.
I know what my choice is!
Let me know if there is any way I can support you with yours!