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Mission 22 Blog


Have you seen an inspiring quote lately, something about how “the storm is outside me, not in me,” or something along those lines? Maybe there’s a gladiator wielding a shining sword in a thunderstorm and you quickly shared it to your Insta story. Then, not half an hour later, you find yourself getting frustrated at such little things all over again. You inwardly agree with that idea but when the platitude faces reality, it often tends to be forgotten. What if there were a different way to frame things that allowed us to tap in to that inner strength and wisdom? Maybe we could practice a different “operating system,” a slightly different way to think about a situation that, instead of leading us down the road of worry and frustration, cultivates positivity and self assurance.

Here are several tools and techniques I’ve found to keep that storm outside us rather than in us.

  1. Practice Fear Setting. This is a great tool to seat yourself voluntarily in the situation that you fear so much. By “practicing poverty,” you can, in controlled doses, place yourself in an uncomfortable venue that you previously thought would be unbearable. Subjecting yourself to a cold shower once in a while can help you mentally prepare for winter, for example. For something to even be truly unbearable, we’d have to project a horrendous situation into the future and label that projection as unbearable. By definition, if you’re still breathing, you can bear one more breath, no matter what you’re going through. Try this exercise:

    • Make three columns on a page.

    • Column 1: Define. Write down a worse case scenario, or two or three.

    • Column 2: Prevent. Write down things you can do to mitigate that from happening.

    • Column 3: Repair. Write down what actions you could take to mitigate the fallout.

    By putting these things on paper, it has a similar cathartic effect as making a list of your chores. Rather than allowing them to run rampant in your thoughts, you can sift order from disorder and give you a better sense of agency in your world.

  2. Choose what is meaningful, not what is expedient. To borrow from one of clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, this concept takes advantage of one of our most unique characteristics as humans. We can think and plan ahead for the future. It doesn’t help when all that planning only leads to worry, but by leveraging this concept, we can foster a posture of readiness. Making contingency plans isn’t done out of worry, it’s done out of prudence. By sacrificing short-term gains, we can make long-term legacy impact. We will always have to trade something good for something better. But even this sacrifice can pay dividends before you reach whatever we mean by “retirement.”
    We need something to progress toward. We are progress-based creatures, not achievement-based creatures. By having something meaningful on our hands to do here and now, we’re speaking life into that depth of us that craves the pursuit. This is especially important in seasons where some future achievement and the path to reach it are opaque. We love games and art because they are pursuit-based and keep us engaged. So whether work life is business as usual or not, find a progress-based activity to include every day.

  3. Take advantage of fear. Emotions serve as an internal thermostat telling us when something is wrong in a relationship. They are neither bad nor good in and of themselves, but our actions can turn toxic when we don’t handle emotional cues well. All anger is based out of a fear response to something. We often act angrily without the awareness of what the root of that anger really is. We “kick the cat” when something happens at work or something else in our life is out of whack. Please don’t kick your animals.
    When you find that you’re becoming angry, treat that response with curiosity rather than compulsivity. Don’t judge yourself for becoming angry – it happens to all of us – but use it as an opportunity to ask where that anger comes from so we can properly address that root fear. Anger is almost never productive, especially in a domestic setting. It is fear displayed publicly. Rather than acting on your anger, can you redirect that negativity into a journaling or other self-reflective practice? Fear and anger could well serve as your guides to redirecting toxic thinking into proactive thinking.

  4. Remove “fair” from the equation. It’s true, we all crave justice and an even weighing of the scales. However, life is simply too complex for us to productively take the burden of equalizing onto ourselves. This idea of fairness is a subjective feeling toward an objective reality. Even if the jury and the judge say you have a right to hold a grudge, cancer nor coronavirus care what names you call it. Viewing life through a lense of whether the world’s been fair or unfair to you is crippling. It’s tying yourself to others, hoping that they’ll agree how much of a victim you are, and only then will you agree to move on with your life.

    So, remove fair from the equation. That doesn’t mean you get to rage quit a game of Risk if the dice fall outside your favor and you lose your stronghold on Yakutsk, but on a grander scale, accept that the scales of “fair” are held by a Power outside yourself. This frees you from the compulsion to spend time and energy convincing others that you have it bad. We all have it bad in one sense, but we can all have it good if we realize our fears of the future aren’t as bad as we think, and in another sense things are unfair in our favor more than we realize.

Seeing the storm outside us takes practice but it’s utterly true that the tempest inside us is optional. Nelson Mandella was once asked how he survived his unjust prison sentence all those years. He responded by saying he didn’t survive prison, he was preparing. He prepared to forgive those who did him such wrong. How else could he have gone on to create such a shining legacy? How can you navigate this period so that six months from now you can look back on it as sacred time?

Marcus Farris is the Veteran Wellness Coordinator at Mission 22. He’s a Certified Health Coach and Level 1 Crossfit Trainer.