Some people are fascinated with storms – whether it’s following the weather forecasts religiously, chasing twisters or watching all the relevant news reports. My youngest son has a real interest in Tsunamis at the moment – watching them on You Tube and talking about them. What is this fascination about I wonder? Storms are powerful and can be very unpredictable. I wonder if it’s the fact that they are so powerful and devastating in their wake. That sense that we can not control them and that they take on a force of their own.
I’m convinced the older I get that control is a real issue for many of us. We want to feel that we control our lives today and in the future. But much like some storms that come sometimes you just have no control over what happens. You can watch from afar, study them, talk about them, write about them and live them but you can never really control them.
For children who’ve had a difficult start in life, particularly where unpredictability was prevalent, then control is an innate drive within them. That need to try to control the environment so that nothing bad will happen. And for those adults of us who struggle with control you know the same is true of you – the more anxious and worried you become the more you want to control situations that maybe cannot be controlled.
Being powerless is a terrible feeling. I know as a coach that much of the inaction in our lives is due to feeling paralysed by our circumstances and feeling unable to make a difference. “This always happens to me”, “I never get a break”, “Nothing good ever happens to me”, “Of course I knew it would never last” – all those defeatist, fatalist things we say to ourselves when the storms of life appear seemingly out of no-where and we cave under the pressure of lack of control.
But can we control the storms of life? Can you actually step into the eye of the storm and somehow manage to make your way out the other side? I’ve been with many teachers and Head teachers over the last few weeks who have expressed concern about the educational system we have at the moment. The fact that there is so much pressure from above to perform in a certain way, many observations and tests on teachers skills, stress from parents and children, lack of support from the Local authorities. All legitimate and real storms in peoples lives. And we can crumble under that weight and give up. Maybe sometimes it is the right time to say “OK maybe this isn’t for me anymore” but we also need those who can stand up and take some control of the storm around them in order to make children’s experiences of school better.
So whether your storm is a family one, an internal personal turmoil or a work situation what few things can you do to ride out that storm?
Hang on tight and know it will stop at some point. Of course for some of our storms there isn’t an end in sight and we don’t know if they will end. But for most of the things we face there are ebbs and flows, ups and downs, light and shade. When the difficult times come knowing they won’t be long gives us some hope to hang on in there. I know with my children going through the different stages of adolescene for example I know it will pass – what the next phase brings I don’t know but what’s happening now will change.
Find a port in a storm. Having somewhere or someone you can go to in order to get shelter from the storm is absolutely critical. Nobody can ride out a storm continuously alone. You need to find some space, peace and refuge. That may be reaching out to someone else or having some time off. It’s not giving up to have a rest occasionally.
Know there is a purpose to the storm. This is the hardest thing in life to see purpose in what happens, to be able to make sense of what life throws at us. Why are we having to go through another Ofsted visit? Why another new Headteacher? Why another issue with our child? Why is this happening to us? The only way I’ve ever been able to come to terms with storms in my life is to find the point in them. Even my Dad passing away at an early age and well before I was ready for him too (if you ever are ready of course) I have been able to see some good things to that. The fact that I know without a shadow of a doubt how much I love him and what a rock he was to me. I thought I knew that before but until he was gone I never really appreciated it and that is a gift to me. The inspiration he is to me even now still keeps me going at times.
I know for some of you it seems the storm is never ending and these trite comments may not help you but I pray that you will be able to hang in there in whatever way you can, that you will find solace and that there will be some sense of whats happened to you. That you may be able to move on and find sunnier days also knowing that when the next storm hits you may be more equipped to ride it out.