The Scariest Advice From a Therapist You'll Ever Receive


Like you, my years on this earth have provided me countless opportunities to be thrashed by the storms of life. There were times I wondered if my boat would capsize; times I wondered if I would drown under the weight of pain. Like many young bodies filled with youthful exuberance, I once tried with all my might to change my outer circumstances, to ensure me a smoother internal sail. But through the years my idealism has faded and life humbled me to realize how much is really outside of our control. This once painful truth was the catalyst for big learning. It served me to head in a different direction than most, to strengthen a new set of muscles that provides me and others a sense of lasting unconditional peace.

A major turning point in my understanding came after a sailing trip where I found myself quite unexpectedly in the eye of a huge storm. Panicked by the ferocious winds and rough waters, I looked to our expert skipper for the action plan. Much to my dismay he replied: “Take everything inside, and hatchet down the doors and windows… We’re going through”. My face turned white, but I trusted him and did what he said. He later explained:

While the eye of the storm is ferocious, it can only stand in its strength for so long. If we were to try and run away, the storm would only remain on our skirt. We would have sailed the uncomfortable wavy waters for much longer than desirable, only to undergo the inevitable and still have to experience the pain in the eye. His plan was one that sought to cut short our discomfort and while I questioned his sanity at the time, I now realize the wisdom behind his explanation was far greater than what I understood.

Most persons attempt to help others in pain, by helping them get out of it, or 'sail away' from the storm. But the insight born of this sailing trip, gave me a new radical prescription for pain (a caveat that this is most useful for the faithful and the courageous). That is, instead of giving you relief from that pain, or a technique to ‘change you’ or help you ‘change another’, what would happen if you went straight towards the eye?

I believe wholeheartedly that the journey into the storm provides us incredible wisdom, unique to whatever life path on which we find ourselves. By turning inward, I’ve learned the following and as the process unfolds, I look forward to learning so much more:

  1. We are our own lifeboat and the only skipper who knows how to guide our ship. Turning inward for guidance during times of pain is counter-intuitive for many, but it is precisely in this practice that we slowly learn to trust and love ourselves.

  2. Wait for the rescue mission and you could wait forever. While some may have wonderful support networks and people they can turn to in times of need, overdependence on these networks to ‘solve’ the desperate waters of our own storm can foster resentment or disappointment when others fail to meet our needs. Strengthening the path to peace within yourself ensures that most of the outside highly changeable world has no final bearing on your inner sense of wellbeing. Give others the day off, and see what happens when you find ways to be your own rescue mission. See what happens when you come to your relationships full, rather than requiring that your relationships fulfill an empty part of you.

  3. We do have what it takes. All you need to do is try and you will discover that you have a strength beyond your wildest imagination. You will not die in your pain, even though it may feel like it and you can and will find something that gives you a sense of lasting peace. The process of undoing our dependence on the outside world of people, substances, things, or behaviors for solace is the first and most important step to finding this lasting peace. It is only when these external dependendencies are gone that we can finally explore the unknown, push our own limits, and try enough new things to find our own personal magic bullet. For some it’s creative exploration, for others physical exercise. Some find peace in meditation and others in the simple exercise of paying close attention to the in and out of their breath.

The bottom line is that finding peace in the eye of the storm means allowing yourself to go through that storm and watch yourself closely with the mind of a learner. Consciously work to discover what healthy, independent sources of strength you can tap into when you are wafting and waving viciously in the worst of the pain. Write these things down so you won't forget that you once found a way and if at first you don't succeed, try try again.

From this viewpoint, the storm is our most sacred teacher and not something to avoid or to fear. It is only when we run towards it rather than away from it that we discover we’re stronger than we think. In letting go of our external dependencies of strength, we discover our internal resources. Through patience, practice, and time, our skills are strengthened and our sense of self-reliance solid, always there to assure us that we have what it takes to get through the worst of life's storms.

To learn more about finding peace in your storm, contact Andrea Vielma, MA, LMFT at www.Alma-Vida.Com

Andrea Vielma, MA LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in the unique needs of high-functioning individuals. She provides uniquely tailored and eclectically inspired transformational personal coaching or therapy services to help identify and remove personal blocks to fulfillment, happiness and joy.

#peace #anxiety #meditation #mindfulness #happiness #dependency #selfsufficiency #catalyst #unconditional #panic

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