How chaotic times can help us thrive
We’ve all heard the saying that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. What that means is that through challenges and hardships, we learn and grow, becoming more capable than we were before.
Think of a challenging time in your past. Reflect on what you learned and how you grew from it. No experience goes without value in some way. Amid chaos and change and hardship, we learn we can persevere, resist and persist.
Chaos itself is ever-present, and the perception of it is different for everyone. Some people feel calm when kids are yelling and running around, others find that incredibly difficult on their senses.
The first step in making peace with chaos is to not judge it as good or bad. Like that saying, “Shit Happens,” well, “Chaos Happens.” It cannot be avoided, it comes with being human.
Chaos (and even anxiety) is a normal, typical, and even at times, needed aspect of life. My goal is to help you figure out how to show up in the inevitable chaos as your best self.
How chaos helps us
Through chaotic moments and situations, though it may not feel good in the moment, there is a gift to be found. When we’re pushed to our limits, we’re forced to develop skills that allow us to grow and thrive better in the future. We uncover sides to ourselves we may not know, becoming more self-aware and learning what boundaries we need to create.
For me, during the lockdown of the pandemic, in the overwhelm of four kids being home while I tried to work, the house a disaster, health anxiety, and no space or quiet for myself of any kind, let me tell you, I freaked out. I had never been pushed to those limits before. One particular moment I went over the chaos cliff. I yelled (yes, a loud guttural yell!), and I threw a game. My son locked me out of my room and I was just about to actually break it down.
*Enter the calm muscle*
Using my calm muscle, I managed to stop myself from actually kicking the door in, and I realized what I needed. Which was to step outside and remove myself from the physical environment of chaos I was in.
On my walk, after my blood stopped boiling, I reflected. I asked myself:
What are my principles? My priorities? Is this situation teaching me something?
What I learned from chaos
With a million conflicting demands, I could choose only one thing at a time. My outburst of overwhelm made me deeply realize that I had to prioritize taking care of myself, and make it non-negotiable. Who was the person I wanted to show up as during chaotic moments?
What I learned was that I have more extremes in my personality and spirit than I thought. I am bigger than I thought, in every way. I can hold more anger and frustration than I thought, and I could also be more creative, patient and joyful than I knew. The chaos forced me to learn how to manage those feelings in a way that I could be more grounded and present for my family.
Different environments teach us different things
We all live in the box of our individual worlds. We try to hang out in the middle of the box, where it’s airy and there’s space. But sometimes external forces push us to the corners of the box, where things could be darker and unknown. There, learning and growth happens.
Don’t take for granted being pushed to the corner of the box. It’s in the corner you’re forced to be creative, to innovate, to make changes that benefit you.
For example, there are many sustainable products available now – like chairs made out of recycled bottles and hoses being made into handbags because we are in a climate change crisis and mother earth needs help.
Being in uncomfortable positions forces us to think in ways we never had to before.
Next time you’re in a chaotic moment or situation, reflect on your external and internal environment and how you can adjust one or both.
For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the mess in your home, first take a moment to not place judgment on it. Internally, you’ll feel calmer if you accept that this is what happens when you have kids – setting an expectation that a mess won’t happen is not realistic. Then, externally, figure out ways you can alleviate the anxiety of this for you, like buying a few bins to tame the clutter.
Chaos prepares us
With self-awareness and learnings from prior chaos, we’re better equipped for whatever comes our way. There will always be chaos popping up in our lives. It could be a challenging situation with a partner or your child. At work, you could have unexpected discordance with colleagues or a customer.
We don’t need chaos to rule our minds. But we can use chaotic times and moments as a tool to develop our boundaries, learn more about our inner selves and our purpose, and own our internal calm despite the external chaos, in order to show up in life as our most mindful, grounded self.
You got this!
Reach out, I’m here for you.