The Secret to Navigating the Storms of Life

Written by on October 24, 2016 in Accountability with 23 Comments

navigating the storms-of-life


Live boldly. Fear less. Grow forward.

When you’re working your way through one of life’s storms it is human nature to focus on getting back to normal, to “bounce back” as quickly as possible to a place where things are calm, familiar and comfortable.

Well, hang on, because I’m here to break the news to you that it is an illusion to think we can ever truly return emotionally and intellectually to where we were before the storm because every experience changes us in some way.

Sometimes the things we can’t change, end up changing us.

The notion that we are changed by our encounters with life challenges is certainly not new, and though you probably don’t consciously give it much thought, chances are it doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The theme is present in ancient spiritual and religious traditions, literature, and philosophy.

And to see it in action all we really need to do is look at our own experiences.

The Nature of Life’s Storms

  • Coping with the loss of a relationship can and often does turn one’s world upside down. Even if we are able to recover in terms of finances and quality of lifestyle, our experiences are now a part of who we are and will be reflected (for better or worse) in the way we approach future relationships.
  • When we experience a major health scare, possibly involving some hospital time, we can never go back to being the person we were before the event even if we fully recover because we have encountered firsthand the fragility of life, not to mention coming face to face with our own mortality.
  • The loss of a job is another event that changes us in ways that are not always obvious. Even if you quickly recover and find another job, there will naturally be a sense of vulnerability and greater awareness of your surroundings and relationships in an effort to avoid being blindsided again.

There is little doubt that we are changed, sometimes profoundly, by our experiences, the only question is how much control we have over the course of that change, and the answer is, a lot more than you might think.

Everything can be taken from a man but the last of human freedoms. The ability to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. ~Viktor Frankl, Neurologist, Psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor

The secret to navigating the storms of life …

At all times and in all situations, it is up to each of us to choose the meaning we apply to our circumstances.

Consider this … how is it that two people can be faced with the same hardship and while one becomes hopelessly mired in a web of negativity and feelings of anger and frustration, the other is able to overcome their circumstances and grow stronger than ever as a result of the experience?

The answer can be found in our attitudes and beliefs.

At one extreme, we may choose to accept the role of hapless victim and surrender to whatever fate sends our way, or become mired in “Why is it always me!” negativity and bitter frustration.

Either way is the result of a fixed mindset that is resistant to growth and change. If this is your approach to life you will be far less likely to be proactive about effectively managing change and or initiation actions to recover from adversity.

So even if you eventually see a better way to handle your response to whatever challenge you may be facing, you’ll very likely only arrive at that point after experiencing unnecessary stress and loss of valuable recovery time.

But there is another choice …

You can take full responsibility for your life by choosing to embrace change and uncertainty and learn to grow forward through all of your experiences.

Of course, this means doing the work to develop the skills and habits that will enable you to navigate life’s occasional storms. It’s being honest enough with yourself to at least consider that what was once “normal” for you may well have been what led to the storm in the first place.

It’s choosing to pay the price to own your life, to risk, live and love for all your worth, confident that regardless of whatever obstacles you may face along the way, you will be okay.

If you ask someone ‘Have you been through something difficult and come out the other side stronger, wiser and more compassionate?’ most of us would answer yes. That’s powerful proof that as humans we’re wired to grow through hardship. ~Anna A. Berardi, Ph.D., Trauma Response Institute at George Fox University
Related reading …
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

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23 Reader Comments

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  1. ikechi

    Hi Marquita

    Every Storm we face either makes us stronger or makes us weak and this depends on our mindset.

    You are so right. Challenges are supposed to make us stronger and better but our attitudes will have the last say .

    Thanks for sharing. Take Care
    ikechi recently posted…4 Crazy Things You don’t Know When You Waste Your LifeMy Profile

  2. Sushmita

    I agree secret of navigating the storms in life is by being strong. Just like Miley Cyrus says ‘ Life’s a climb. But the view is great. ‘
    Sushmita recently posted…Easy & Valuable Personal Finance Basics! This Diwali take steps ahead towards Prosperity.My Profile

  3. It is so true that things that were normal for us could be the cause of the storm.Storms will come and go, however they will reduce when we change our attitude towards life.As we improve ourselves , life will have better things to offer.If we smile looking at others they will smile back to us.Difficulties will stop chasing us if we develop an ‘ i dont care attitude towards them.’Our attitude towards situations is a reflection of our personality.And our personality can become more positive when we choose to be with positive minded people,read something positive each day,exercise,eat right and continue to find inner peace each day.If we give good we will receive good in this lifetime or the next lifetime – thats the law of give-and-take.This in turn with continue to mould our personality positively and our attitude towards life.
    Priya Prabhu recently posted…Key findings in differences in languages and scriptsMy Profile

  4. William Rusho

    I always enjoyed the Grandmother from the movie Parenthood, she was comparing a roller coaster to a merry go round:
    “You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”

    When you get done with life, and you look back. Did you take a thrilling ride, or was it just in circles? The hardships might be hard, but they make the trip worth taking.

  5. Marquita, What a powerful post. Every one of us runs into hardships, and we never know when it might happen. All sorts of problems occur – financial, emotional, relationships, our home, our car, family members, friends, health issues. None of us will go through life without experiencing “storms”. But if we are armored with an attitude that won’t quit, if we are determine to honor our own self and do what we believe in our heart is best, then we have taken control of our life.
    Warmly, Dr. Erica

  6. Deborah says:

    Wonderful post.
    We are always changed by everything that happens to us.
    Thank you.

  7. Phoenicia

    Life certainly does change us. Our experiences make us who we are today. We can change for better or worse. I have always hoped and prayed that my negative experiences will not change the way I am with people. That I will not be a baggage carrier.

    After losing my father almost 12 years ago, I realised just how fragile life was. I had lost family members before but not a parent or a sibling. Part of me went numb with the realisation that life is short and we must make the most of each day.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Are you pursuing your dreams?My Profile

    • So true Phoenicia! Accepting that we change as a result of our experiences is the first step to understanding that we have a choice about the quality and scope of that change. It really is all about choosing to live life on purpose. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  8. I must admit that I enjoy a good Greta Garbo dramatic moment or two of flinging my hand across my forehead and stating, asking, “Why Me?” This is usually when I’ve once again whacked into something with said head and hurt myself.
    I grew out of asking that in the more global and whining sense quite some years ago. Our parents were big on teaching us to be self-reliant and to accept responsibilities when things in life went awry. If we were part of the cause.

    There are so many wonderful stories of strength, of coming through a thing and being forever a new person. This type of change, although difficult for us, forges us into new versions of ourselves. That’s not a bad thing.
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…The Great Sister Road Trip of 1996My Profile

    • I can so see you going through a “Greta Garbo” moment and it makes me smile RoseMary. 🙂 A sense of humor is one of the most valuable traits one can cultivate in life. Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation my friend.

  9. Jeri

    Change does bring the opportunity for growth, but that period of adjustment is always so hard. When I think about being like one of my old selves, I always get the willies, because the new version of myself is always one I am more proud of. Just yesterday, I got the word “resilient” tattooed on my upper back 😉
    Jeri recently posted…#Marketing: Building an Author Platform in 5 Easy Steps by KJ WatersMy Profile

    • That’s awesome Jeri! You know I’ve been thinking about getting a new tat myself. I turned my life upside this year and not only lived through it, I’m having a blast. It seems to me the perfect time to commemorate this year-long experiment. Now I just have to decide on the image. You’ve inspired me! 🙂

  10. Ramona McKean

    This past year+ has been a painful, challenging time for me with one of my grown kids. The growing forward has been hard to see and feel at times, but there’s something I’ve discovered that makes a difference. It’s to tell myself: “I signed up for this.” This simple statement helps me feel stronger and more hopeful. If I “signed up for it,” then there’s a purpose, and it must be a worthy one.

    Marquita, thanks for another thoughtful blog post. Ramona
    Ramona McKean recently posted…Music to Build Bridges, Cohen, KD and HallelujahMy Profile

    • Oh, I like that Ramona, “I signed up for this.” I think a lot of parents could benefit by remembering that phrase. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and appreciate your taking the time to share. 🙂

  11. Mark

    I really love your incredibly thoughtful insights!M!

    For ex; where you share, how what was once considered normal, may have been responsible, for what initially led to the storm in the first place!

    That’s really connecting the dots!LOL! Thanks!

    And I like your pro-active approach, of choosing the particular meaning we apply to our given circumstances.

    Because doing so, will most certainly reveal an awful lot, about who we really are!

    Thanks for sharing some mighty good stuff as usual M!
    Mark recently posted…Why Extremely Savvy Entrepreneurs Don’t Just Market Their Businesses They Leverage Their Efforts!Part ThreeMy Profile

  12. Great post, Marty. For me, change presents an opportunity to grow. I truly do embrace change, as we always learn from change and usually we grow if we embrace the change with a positive attitude.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…artisan chocolate in Gruyeres, SwitzerlandMy Profile

  13. Sabrina Quairoli

    It’s important for all of us to realize we are strong beings and we can weather any storm. After I read this, I glanced to the left of my screen and noticed my “strength” sign. I placed this here to remind me that I can withstand anything. Thank you for the reminder.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Transforming coffee table with gray chalk paintMy Profile

  14. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    There will always be storms in life and I do believe it is our inner belief system that either gets us through or not.

    The “why is it always me” person won’t learn a thing from a storm. However, the person that looks at the storm as something passing will be able to come out stronger.

    I can never understand the self pity type of person. They live in misery all the time. Maybe the benefit of that is compassion from people. But to me it is a waste of time and energy.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…Influencer Marketing To Grow Your BlogMy Profile

  15. Dave

    The power of choice is undeniable. And, even though it is sometimes difficult to accept the circumstances that accompany change, it never ceases to amaze me how much more manageable the entire process is when we embrace the change as an opportunity to “grow forward”.

    That euphemism is a wonderful alternative to the much less endearing idea of “coping with change”. When we decide to perceive change as a positive entity, everything changes 🙂

    Thanks, as always, Marty, for the wonderful reminder and motivating article!
    Dave recently posted…Becoming YouMy Profile

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