Take Time to Be Still
By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
For Floridians, hurricane threats send people scurrying around town collecting water, batteries, and can goods. The stores are flocked with people as the shelves begin to go bare. Preparations are made to homes and offices to protect landscapes, windows, and possessions. Anyone who lived through the four hurricane year of 2004, remembers the unpredictability of the path, the weeks without power, the displaced people, the intense traffic, and massive devastation that took years to recover. Nearly every part of Florida was affected by one of the storms.
But right before the storm would approach, there was an eerie stillness. Even the birds were silent as the streets of major cities became deserted, businesses and schools were shut down, homes were boarded up, and the people braced for impact. There was a peaceful deceiving look outside as even the trees were tranquil. The silence, in combination with a realization that nothing more could be done at the moment but to wait, placed serenity in the hearts of many.
That calmness was very much needed in the next few hours as each storm hit the state collectively leaving over $57 billion dollars in damage and the loss of over 3,000 lives. That was a difficult summer for nearly every Floridian contributing greatly to the economic downfall and real estate collapse two years later. The storms were a battle of sorts and those of us who lived through it pray for it never to happen again.
But there are lessons to be learned from the experience which can be applied to everyday life. The “storm” can be metaphorical for nearly anything in a person’s life. It could be a child leaving for college, a divorce, a move, change in vocation, permanent disability, significant shift in health, or the slow loss of a family member. Here are seven steps in dealing momentous change:
1. Acknowledge. The first step is to acknowledge that something is about to change. It is important to name that change and have some understanding if the change is permanent or temporary.
2. Plan. The next is to formulate a plan for the change. This might include a time line with deadlines for completion on items to be done. Or it might be a plan of worst case scenarios.
3. Watch. Just because the change is coming does not mean that it is the right time to start on the plan. Be watchful of the early warning signs before beginning to implement the plan.
4. Prepare. Now that the change is on the horizon, begin the preparation phase of the plan keeping the deadlines in mind. Strive to finish before the last deadline to allow time for the next phase.
5. Wait. This is perhaps the most important part of any change. The waiting. Taking time out to rest just before a major shift in life helps to mentally and physical readjust to the new circumstances.
6. Fight. All change brings about a period of struggle and battle. The previous steps help a person to successfully navigate the difficult time period of adjustment and tweak any necessary short-comings.
7. Reflect. At the end of the process, it is good to evaluate and reflect on what worked and what needed improving. This information is invaluable for the next change in life.
The storms of life do not have to knock a person down. Rather, this can be a time for growth. But without the most important step of being still, the change can easily exhaust and overwhelm.
To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.