How to Weather the Storms of Life
We see our lives as linear stories, written in the linear path of time. Considering time moves relentlessly forward, we imagine life necessarily has to progress that way.
To an extent, it does.
One day comes after the next. We grow up, and then we grow old. That’s the unavoidable part of life. That’s the part we can’t fight, only adapt to so that we can make the most out of it.
What we often fail to see, however, are the ways in which life ceases to be linear and becomes cyclical.
We get caught in the moment, and we believe that’s all we have. Every success is supposed to last forever, every setback is uniquely challenging. We let problems take a bigger proportion in our minds than they should have, until we can’t see what lies beyond.
There’s so much of life that’s cyclical, because after joy there’s sadness, and then there’s joy again — if we’re open enough to let it in.
The storms of life are just as cyclical as the storms of nature, but they catch us off-guard — and much less prepared — more often than any hurricane or tropical storm we see coming for miles.
The storms of life catch us off-guard because we expect happiness to not only be prevalent, but to last forever. We want to live a carefree, relaxed life. We don’t want to become paranoid, consumed by worry, thinking that everything is about to turn bad all the time — and that’s truly no way to live. But forgetting that ups and downs are part of life is no way to live either.
The storms of life also catch us off-guard because we blow them out of proportion in our minds. We let problems consume all of our time and energy. We take having one thing going wrong for us, or having one thing that we feel is missing in our lives, as meaning everything is irreversibly bad. It’s not.
We get attached to our confirmation bias and to the gaps we have in life, and we use them as proof that we have nothing working in our favor.
But most of this is inside our minds — and it doesn’t even match reality.
The first step to weather the storms of life is not to let one form in our heads. It’s not to make a problem bigger than it actually is. The best way to do it is to remind ourselves that life is bigger than that.
Life is much bigger than how we perceive our problems to be.
If there actually is a storm, if the problem actually is that big, the second step to weather it is to remind ourselves that life is cyclical. We’ve had problems before, big ones, and we have found ways to overcome them all. This is just another problem we have to deal with, as we have dealt with many others before.
Life goes on, as it always does.
As we remind ourselves that there are ups and downs to life, we find a way to stay calm in the face of adversity. Reminding ourselves that life is cyclical, however, doesn’t mean we’re excused from doing something about the problem at hand. All it means is that our past experiences should make us stronger, and dealing with the next storm should be easier than it was dealing with the last.
Sometimes, we have to take a hit before we can get back up, and that means taking the blow of the storm and accepting the damage. Sometimes, there are things we can’t weather, only survive until the worst is over and we can rebuild.
Life being cyclical, there will be a time to rebuild. After a storm, the weather clears and the sun shines again. It always does.