Staying Rooted During the Storms of Life

My neighborhood came through a line of storms with much loss of trees. When I walked around, I was moved by the giant root systems that had been wrested free of the earth. It reminded me of the crises that we all endure at times in our lives and how it feels.

What keeps us staying upright rather than toppling in life’s storms? I think some things are beyond our control, just as we can’t regulate where and when a tornado will hit. However, we can do several things to help insure our resilience in weathering the elements of life:

  • Have deep roots in some type of belief system. Religious beliefs or a philosophical framework can help us understand life events. We do better when things make sense to us, even when we can’t understand fully. For instance, just knowing that everyone faces life transitions, whether they be deaths or other types of losses, and that it takes time to grieve helps us have a mindset that we aren’t alone and can survive them. It is often hardest for youth to endure setbacks like relationship break-ups because they don’t have as much life experience and knowledge that they can get through it.
  • Make sure our environment can support us and isn’t too soggy or flimsy. Our support system is vital in keeping us rooted in the ground. No matter how deep the roots of the trees that toppled in my neighborhood, they still went over because the earth was so saturated. Our family and friends act as firm ground for us to stand on when the going gets rough. Even having regular work contacts often is an insulating factor for surviving hardship. That’s why losing one’s job is so difficult for people. It represents their identity and an important context for their lives.
  • Keep ourselves strong and healthy and flexible with self-care. Our proverbial “leaves and branches” need good food, exercise, and rest in order to ward off illness as well as see us through life’s trials. Food and exercise may seem self-evident. However, we often skimp on them. Sleep is often under-rated in terms of the negative side effects of getting too little. Another form of rest is just having “down” time and time to “be” – leisure time, rather than “doing” time. I’ve often noticed that people who don’t have time for themselves get sick more often. We simply get stressed by the constant demands of our lives. This literally can make our bodies more rigid and tense, hindering our health and flexibility.

Look deeply into whatever storms you encounter in your life. There are always lessons we can learn, no matter how difficult. Life is a process – living it to its fullest means being present to whatever there is, pleasant and unpleasant. We can’t pick and choose what happens, but we can choose how to respond to it.

I am touched when I see people who have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one who somehow manage to find ways to honor that person and give their lives meaning even in death.

Honor the lessons that life’s storms send to you!

 

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