Last Thursday an unexpected hailstorm blew through Chester County hitting the towns of Exton, Downingtown and West Chester pretty hard. It was a lovely sunny afternoon then all of a sudden there was thunder and lightning in the midst of the clear blue sky. It grew darker and the wind picked up speed blowing new summer leaves off the trees. Then the ice came down pummeling newly sprouted plants. By the end of it all, spring blooms were no more and carefully mulched and mowed lawns were tattered with leaves and debris. Nothing was spared.
We have so little control of many things in life; nature being one of them. Nature is non – negotiable. Nature has its’ own patterns of balancing itself. Things can get interrupted or even destroyed – It is neither personal nor discriminatory. Something is lost and something new emerges. This is the essence of change and balance – The cycle of life.
As a Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia and West Chester, PA based counselor, I work with people moving through their own personal tornados involving changes that were not wanted, including divorce, job loss, death of a loved one, addictions, etc. These experiences often bring up strong emotions, which can feel overwhelming. If vulnerable to reactivity, situations like these can trigger self-defeating behavior, including bingeing on food or alcohol, excessive spending, raging on a loved one, quitting a job without a plan and many other unproductive actions.
Just like a major storm, where opposites intersect via cold meets heat resulting in a powerfully fueled storm system, our human conflicts can meet and when opposite they can clash create crisis. When we do not know how to deal with a situation and put it off or minimize its’ importance, tension from repressed emotions builds beneath the surface. Time passes and when a stressor occurs – Wham!
Maybe a person realizes that they are tolerating poor treatment after years of telling themselves it is normal. Or, awareness is reached that their career is not really a fit and they have been trying to force it. Or, realize that they hold very little in common with their mate.
We need to let something go to have something else grow and replace it – Sometimes it is a skewed perception or outlook – Sometimes it involves making a tangible change. This is uncomfortable for most of us. It can feel immensely unsettling when in a “limbo like state” of the in between. Counseling and behavior therapy provides an opportunity on how to manage and even thrive in the in between times and helps with becoming more flexible in response to the winds of life – Growing more resilient and stress hardy. We can then realize and remember that the flowers and plants will grow back again, maybe not until the next year or looking a bit different but according to natures order.