Weathering the storm

By Paola Bassanese

On 28th October 2013 the UK was hit by a storm, which caused flooding and damage in various areas.


The storm lasted for a few hours leaving a trace of broken tree branches and debris.


Life can be a bit like the weather – in fact the expression “weathering the storm” is quite common. A storm in itself is not a common occurrence and yet, while we are in the middle of it, we literally can’t see “the wood from the trees”. A difficult situation may feel like it has been dragging on for years and wears us down, but then something changes or we change and looking back at those difficult times we realise that that was not representative of our entire existence.


Personally I have had a difficult five years since my father passed away (hence my fundraising activity this year to commemorate him ) and life has lost its sparkle. I allowed myself to be in the middle of the storm for five years, or rather, I have been chasing the storm instead of allowing it to move away.


Why do we proactively seek pain and suffering that way? Why don’t we make a decision to change our thinking?


A few months ago I started listening to the meditation app Get Headspace and it has helped me get some sense of perspective, but bad habits have the tendency to take over and worry seems to rule my thinking. Meditation requires discipline and practice to work and to “re-wire” the brain from negative thinking you may need several years of practice.



In my experience, each set back has dented my confidence and strengthened my self-doubt. Instead of looking at how well I managed to come out of difficult situations, I beat myself up for not being clever or brave enough. It’s the equivalent of only looking at the debris left behind by the storm and seeing all the mess instead of seeing beyond that and visualising how the environment will look like again after a clear-up operation.


However, I would say that the lessons I learned in my life so far and that I would like to share with you are:

  • you are only given problems you are capable of dealing with, the key to solve a problem is in your mental attitude
  • with each experience come the realisation that what seemed to be an impossible task just a few years or months before becomes a routine operation over time
  • pain and suffering are there in your life for different reasons but you choose how to cope with the pain – suffering, as the Buddhist proverb says “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”


I would like to open up the discussion with you: how are you coping with the inner turmoils of your life? Have you learned to step away from the storm and look at it from a different perspective? What have you learned from it?