Excelling In The Face Of Personal Chaos
In our lives, order and chaos live in a state of ongoing tug-of-war. The emotional and psychological highs and lows of both order and chaos are familiar to us all. When in balance, the rules of internal and external relationships are understood.
Chaos, suggests an absence of the familiar or predictable. When flared up, chaos blankets us in the unknown, which for the average person is distressing as it pulls us away from any potential comfort zone. Coping with chaos suggests we are venturing into uncertain territory, as if sailing to find the edge of the world. The evidences of chaos can vary but often reveals itself in the form of broken relationships, depression, illness, death, divorce, failed business, or job loss, etc. In extreme cases, as a means of coping, some turn to alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs.
Excelling In The Face Of Personal Chaos
(Excerpt from the Introduction of Excelling In The Face of Personal Chaos)
In 2001, I was involved in a motor vehicle accident which was deemed by the authorities to not be my fault. I was a skilled professional driver who had won many safe driving awards. In spite of my training and awards, the accident happened.
As medical test results came in, it was evident that I had suffered a spinal injury in the accident. My prognosis was bleak to say the least. My day to day life became a cycle of swallowing pills to control nerve pain; pills to control inflammation; pills to buffer my stomach walls so the other pills wouldn’t rot through the lining of my stomach; etc. For 5 years I took morphine every day just to keep the edge off my pain levels. For years, as a result of my accident, I lived life walking from one potential source of personal chaos to another.
By 2005, after some 27 medical specialists had contributed to my medical file, I was told it was time to price out a personal walker, and a wheelchair, as soon my canes would no longer be sufficient and I would soon rely on a walker or wheelchair full-time and permanently.
In the face of my ongoing chaos, there were 5 major life lessons that I had to learn:
Lesson #1 — The things we love in this world change, they end, and in the dark void which is left behind, the birth of new beginnings always takes place.
Lesson #2 — Life is not always fair, but I can choose to give up, give in, or become the master of my circumstance.
Lesson # 3 — Life is fluid, and things don’t always go according to plan, but I DO get to re-write that plan.
Lesson #4 — Pain is a normal part of gain, and I will have to work through my pain to try and regain some percentage of the quality of life I once lost.
Lesson # 5 — People, no matter how close a friend they claim to be, are not loyal or loving all the time. If I am to going to be a master of my own change, I must be prepared to change alone.
We don’t have to adopt a victim mentality in life. What others see as limitations to our world, we can choose to see as stepping stones.
In Greek mythology, Chaos was known as the original primeval void — the first thing which existed. According to Hesiod, “at first Chaos came to be”, “but next” (possibly out of Chaos) came Gaia, Tartarus, and Eros. Unambiguously born “from Chaos” were Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night). The Greek word “chaos” (χάος), means “yawning” or “gap”, but what, if anything, was located on either side of this chasm, or gap, is unclear.
In Judeo-Christian teachings, chaos is an abyss or more often perceived as a bottomless pit — a chasm which may lead to the underworld or hell. When one finds their world somewhat filled with chaos, perhaps there is great accuracy in their comments when they describe their situation as being “hell-ish”, or like living in “hell”.
Personal chaos, is often referred to as personal crisis. Crisis has several defining characteristics. Chaos/crisis is thought to have the following defining characteristics which are “the presence of confusion, a specific event, an unexpected event, and non-routine events or series of events which generate high levels of uncertainty, and threat, or perceived threat, to an organization’s, or person’s high priority goals.”
“The journey of our lives is not just about the destinations we have reached. Our wisdom, education and personal growth come from the people we meet, the paths we choose to follow and the lessons we have learned along the way.” – Unknown
Crisis, almost always, is born out of a “loss” experience. How you respond to a crisis, often determines who you are, where you are at in your personal life growth, and who you will become.
In our lives, order and chaos live in a constant battle, a constant state of ongoing anarchy, lawlessness or tug-of-war. The emotional and psychological highs and lows of both order and chaos are familiar to us all. When in balance, the rules of internal and external relationships are understood.
Chaos, suggests an absence of the familiar or predictable. When flared up, chaos blankets us in the unknown, which for the average person is distressing as it pulls us away from any potential comfort zone. Coping with chaos suggests we are venturing into uncertain territory, as if sailing to find the edge of the world. The evidences of chaos can vary but often reveal themselves in the form of broken relationships, depression, illness, death, divorce, or job loss, etc. In extreme cases, as a means of coping, some turn to alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs.
To be alive and growing as a person is to know at some point in time, personal chaos; no one is spared from this style of event. Somewhere, sometime, in some small or great way you will face personal chaos or have already faced personal chaos. When personal chaos occurs, it doesn’t take long to discover that our normal coping skills no longer work. Our world feels as if it has imploded upon us.
Learning to navigate our chaos rather than shutting it down can provide rich rewards. Personal chaos can be very challenging and often feels as if it’s all consuming. The bright side is that personal chaos provides tremendous potential for personal growth—an opportunity to excel in the face of personal chaos.
Author — James C. Tanner