Hurricane Sandy was a type of tragedy that many people in the Northeast had never seen before. Millions of people lost power, but hundreds more lost their homes, their livelihoods, and even the lives of friends and family members. It marks the end of relationships they had with people they loved, homes they knew, and lifetimes of memories that were washed away. With this much heartache, is it even possible to ask about a silver lining?
It's something many of us wonder about throughout life's sudden impacts. They may be called "Disasters" or "Crises"... but in their most simple form, they're called "Changes." Change can be painful, hard, overwhelming, or even unfathomable. But, in hindsight, these changes, big or small, are the moments of our lives that usually had the biggest impact on making us into better people.
Reflecting back on the more challenging moments in your life, you can probably see how they made you a little more compassionate, a little more grateful, maybe even a little stronger. You can probably see how the closing of one door opened up a host of others.
For myself, I remember several years ago when I had just moved back to New York. I was heartbroken over a recent breakup, I had accrued a considerable amount of debt, I didn't have a job, nor did I have a place to live. When I look back on those months of couch and floor surfing, daily creditor calls, and piecing together $2 meals, it's not something I want to relive, but it awakened in me a strength, resilience, and appreciation for friends that I had never experienced before. It made me into a better person.
The same will be true here. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on lives all across the mid-Atlantic coast and those people will probably never forget how that storm changed them. But hopefully those same people may be able to look back one day and realize how that horrible, life-changing experience pushed them to change careers, move away to a new place, devote their lives to a particular cause, or reunite with long-lost family and friends.
I'm not in a position to call this natural disaster a blessing in disguise, because how can anything this horrifying be a blessing? But, what we find horrifying today, may become something altogether different tomorrow. Once we've allowed ourselves the weeks, months, or even years to process through our grief, we will eventually have an opportunity to let go of those feelings in order to heal and ultimately move on.
Maybe then we can look back and realize how this catastrophic event, this change, made us into better people... a little more compassionate, a little more grateful, and maybe even a little stronger.
John Kalinowski is an NYU-Certified Life Coach based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter or visit his website VisionMethod.com.