Flooded with helplessness.
A friend of mine recently returned home from vacation to find his newly constructed house flooded.
The feelings of helplessness that followed were magnified by the story he was telling himself on repeat. That he was an idiot. Naive. A loser. Stupid for not knowing better.
Loss of control.
This was something completely beyond his control. Yet there he was battling Mother Nature head on.
Making himself entirely responsible for the deluge of rain. All powerful. Yet completely powerless. Imprisoned by his thoughts alone.
He and his wife had only lived in their new home for 18 months. A dream house built for retirement.
Every aspect of the design painstakingly conceived. Which only amplified his despair.
But in that moment, the story in his mind was filled with self-accusation and punishment. Second guessing on repeat.
The loop in his head based on the assumption that he was all-mighty. At the epicentre of the universe. Fully in charge of Mother Nature and her actions.
This is what happens when we lose control of external circumstances. We attempt to control it internally.
Overcome by emotion.
Logically, he knew that it was not the end of the world. That there were far worse things that could have happened and have happened in his life.
But in times of panic, our emotional brain (the amygdala) hijacks our thinking brain and we can no longer think rationally.
And that’s ok. Because in order to heal, we must first bear witness to our pain. Only then can we move on and beyond.
It has been four days since the flood and thank goodness the overwhelming feelings of helplessness have subsided for my friend.
Time heals. And so does a wife’s love. The support of neighbours. And a mom’s embrace.
It happened. He is strengthened. He will thrive.
Change the story.
Now when he passes the construction zone in his house, instead of chastising himself, he thinks of how lucky he is to have a basement renovation just 18 months after moving in. Same basement. Different narrative.
This story makes him smile.