for a strong, fast pick-me-up
How we react to weather crises can often depend on the ‘weather’ inside us and what we choose to focus upon.
The recent howling winds and driving rain in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie brought out a ‘primal simplicity’ in me of wanting to protect my family. I wanted to find out more about this ‘refreshing re-focus’ in a chat with my friend and wise psychologist, Kerry Deller.
I posted earlier Kerry’s tips for dealing with the pain of the clean-up after storm damage. Now, in this post, I find out more about what Kerry describes as the ‘opportunity to re-focus’ on what’s important in our lives and How and Why to let go of the rest.
Tony (T): I must say, I found going through the sting in the tail of Debbie was kind of ‘refreshing’ – in that all other worries and concerns were ‘blown away’ by this more urgent threat.
Kerry (K): How we manage events like Debbie is primarily determined by our inner world. For some, it was accepting that “when I’ve done all I can, I just have to hope and have a plan.”
Events like storms bring the risk of loss – of our property, our homes and possessions – and our loved ones and this causes anxiety.
T: For me, it really brought home that people mattered, not property. If physical things got damaged, I’d deal with it. It was all about making sure my kids were safe and my wife was safe going to and from her work on the news reporting about Debbie. I was quite prepared to not worry about the loss of any physical property things.
K: Yes, events like this remind us of how temporary things are! What really matters to us…and if we take the time to reflect – Why these things matter? It can be a good opportunity to re-focus.
Most often we discover that these things…physical possessions while pleasurable are not actually the source of the true pleasure. They are merely the trigger for the memory, which we will always have.
T: I went to bed having decided that I’d deal with whatever physical possessions were lost – so long as my family was OK….and our pets of course!
K: It was a long night as nature vented its energy all around. We are so used to controlling our environment but on nights like this we can feel totally disempowered to anything but wait!
You see pictures on the news of some people just playing cards and ‘riding out the storm’.
T: My son found the change of routine quite exciting – staying up until the early hours (because schools were closed the next day) listening to the wind and rain while he stayed up drawing. Talk about focus! Our daughter was very scared of the wind and noise and the sound of breaking tree branches, so we let her into ‘the big bed’. Our cats were in the big bed too. I saw on Facebook, lots of friends had their pets in bed with them or at least in the bedroom. I guess that’s reflecting what’s most important to us. I guess, it’s about what can be replaced and what can’t
K: For many, the night was long and anxiety-provoking. It stirred the fear of loss of the things that we have all become accustomed to believing reflect our lives. The things we rely upon to seemingly survive…Our homes, cars, contents – the objects that shelter and work for us. Our precious artifacts that reflect the emotional meaning we place upon our lives.
T: As you know, schools were not open so kids were at home – and many businesses shut early. It seemed like the weather threat made us focus on people rather than productivity or profits.
K: As I said, Debbie was a rare opportunity to stop and take stock of what really matters.
For business owners, such loss of trade with the obligation to still pay wages was so high – however it was also an opportunity to value the human capital and realise their welfare is an investment.
T: Yeah, I reckon employees would have felt good about their bosses. Mind you, at the time people probably just wanted to get home to prepare. I reckon the fact that schools were closed and businesses were shutting early would have made people think that really bad damage was expected.
K: To come back to my main point – How we manage events like this is primarily determined by our inner world. To reduce this anxiety of fearing the worst entails
The anxiety is increased by being ‘stuck’ on exploring the worst and making that your focus
So literally anxiety is imagining the worst – going there in your mind and re-living over and over.
Anxiety is reduced by mentally facing the possibility of the worst, acknowledging it and refocusing past it. Finding opportunity amongst the pain.
T: Opportunity amongst the pain – that sounds ‘deep’!
K: Research clearly highlights that the individuals who adopt this mindset cope much better than the ones that get stuck re-living the worst-case scenario.
T: Thanks, good to bear in mind the next time we are faced with some big, threatening event.
(I’m helping Kerry condense her knowledge into a book – her content/my encouragement to ‘make it happen’ within a time-frame between her work. When we break from the book creation, for a coffee, I often ‘pick her brains’ about topical challenges – like last night’s storms around the South East. If you’d like to find out more about Kerry, you can google: Kerry Deller, Psychologist)