Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos

Chaos. Everything is crashing down around you. Your life feels like the second half of Titanic when the ship is sinking but also on fire. What do you do? How do you stay calm?

Try Grounding

In mindfulness circles, “grounding” is the process of “getting back to what’s real.” Ask yourself, realistically, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ Because we can get a little confused when we’re scared or nervous, try asking this question out loud with someone else around so that they can help you to think through it.

Most of the time, when something goes wrong, we can perceive chaos when the worst thing that can happen isn’t really that bad. No matter how bad it is, once you realistically have a worst-case scenario in mind, you can more effectively focus on a solution or possibly a back-up plan.

Recognize Your Social Resources

While you’re finding that person to ask that question with, take a look at the other people around you. We tend to worry about material resources without thinking about our social resources. These are the people that can help to support you when you feel like you’re on that flaming, sinking ship. Look around you and find the people that will listen and care.

Don’t Give Up

Don’t lose hope. When you lose hope, you stop looking for solutions, and when you stop looking for solutions, you are far less likely to find them. In this way, coming to the conclusion that there is no hope can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Twentieth century American Industrialist Henry Ford is quoted as having said “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Focus on a Solution

On a related note, one way to stay calm is to focus on finding a solution. Trying to find a solution can give you hope and help you to feel like you are doing something. Further, it actually moves you towards a solution. Finding people to blame or just feeling sorry for yourself doesn’t help anyone – least of all yourself.

Remind Yourself of Your Past

A similar solution to grounding is to ask yourself when you’ve felt like this in the past and ask yourself what happened. Either you succeeded and everything was great or you failed but still survived long enough afterward to feel that way again.

As much as we might hate it, that feeling of chaos is very much a part of life. When we look at chaos as a part of life, it becomes much more manageable. That’s actually exactly what human civilization is all about – actively managing natural chaos to transform it into something more healthy, fulfilling, and productive. And our chaos today would probably seem a luxury compared to the types of chaos our ancestors endured to get us to this point, so even if your efforts now don’t get you to the goals you were hoping for, they are not without value because they still help push the next generation further ahead.

Focus on Things You Can Do Something About

Remember the words of the “Serenity Prayer:”

“Give me the Courage to change the things I can,

The Serenity to accept the things I can’t,

And the Wisdom to know the difference.”

Sometimes when we have that chaotic feeling, it’s because we’re dumping all of our emotional energies into worrying about things that we can’t do anything about. However, if you direct your energies into the things that you can change, you will find that you feel better about your life and can actually make a difference in the things that matter most to you.

Like pain, the feeling of chaos is mostly useful as a danger signal that we need to pay attention to and address something that could have damaging results if we don’t. Once we get that signal, we need to be able to clear our mind and look past the feeling so it doesn’t get in the way of coming up with solutions. Learning how to stay calm can help you to feel better and live longer, but it can also make you a more effective agent of positive change.

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