Counselor's Corner: Personal storms

By Fred Cavaiani

This past week a severe storm hit the East coast. From South Carolina up to Massachusetts, 5.1 million people lost electricity. Over 700,000 businesses lost power. It was first rated as a Category One hurricane, and then lowered to a tropical storm. It was the headline of the weekend by both CNN and Fox News. Tragedies are something that both these networks can report objectively. Thankfully, the disastrous effects of the storm that many had feared did not happen. As painful and devastating as a tropical storm can be, Hurricane Irene could have been much worse. The preparations, hourly information and tracking of this storm created a climate of quiet acceptance and a willingness to deal with this storm. Of course, there were some people who decided not to evacuate and waited the storm out. They were unbelievably lucky.

Each of us has personal storms in which there is no warning or preparation like we had for Hurricane Irene. A phone call from a doctor asking us to come in for a consultation after he has read a report is a storm with no preparation. A call from a relative saying that a family member has died is another storm without warning. The death of a spouse or a child becomes a hurricane of emotion. Loss of a job with no immediate job in sight blows us in different directions. Hearing the news about natural catastrophes or terrorist attacks creates within us winds of fear and anxiety.

It would be wonderful if we had preparations for things that happen to us unexpectedly. Life doesn't happen this way. Personal Storms rain upon all of us. It is not these personal storms that destroy us. What can destroy us emotionally and spiritually is how we have been living our lives before the storms. The road of life is filled with storms. How aware are we about how we travel this road? What do we take with us in our journey through life?

The preparations for the storms in life demand a personal commitment. We cannot get through life without storms. There will be emotional and physical upheavals in our lives. It is part of life. We are born. We love. We suffer. We grow. People love us and people disappoint us. We are in good health one moment and in bad health the next moment. We can be rich and we can be poor. This can change quickly.

What prepares us for these storms? Psychologists would say that living an emotionally balanced life is the best preparation. Physicians would say living a physically balanced life is a great preparation. Spiritual Teachers would say that developing a personal and deep relationship with God is the best way to live life and be prepared for any struggles that confronts us.

The field of religion/spirituality, the field of emotion/psychology and the field of physical health/medicine all have excellent valid points in helping us prepare and embrace the storms in our lives. The struggle with each of us as human beings is that we are afraid to embrace the necessary teachings of each of these fields. We often block our ears and close our eyes to the basic teachings of each field. Spirituality/religion which has been with us since we took our first steps teaches us much about life. The search and hunger for a God who is at the Source of everything and everyone is not a whimsical fantasy. There are too many logical people who have a profound and deep relationship with God and who, over centuries have had a powerful, positive effect on so many cultures and civilizations. We need to listen to them. There are many psychologists who have taught us how to live a balanced life. We need to listen to them. There are wonderful physicians who through much research have given us fundamental, sound principles of how to live a healthy and long life. We need to listen to them.

Yet we do not listen. Why not? We give in to the pleasure principle (id) of wanting what we want when we want without considering consequences. We are afraid to depend upon Someone else for help, a Higher Power or God. It becomes difficult to embrace the pain of exercise and proper eating so we can feel healthy and free. We become afraid to embrace emotional pain and allow ourselves the privilege of grieving over the emotional wounds in our lives.

When "the storms of emotional and physical upheaval" come upon us, we become like deer in headlights. We just don't know what to do. It is never too late to begin our preparations for the Hurricanes in our lives. Hurricanes will happen to us. Emotional storms are part of life. We do not have to be afraid. Everything in our lives will work together for the good. There is meaning and wisdom in every circumstance. If we haven't been on the road of living a healthy, balanced spiritual, emotional and physical life we will lose much enjoyment in life. When the storms come we will be like the lone person on an island who wants to live in fantasy that the storm will bypass them. We will live in fantasy and then become overwhelmed by the reality. When we stay on the road of spiritual, emotional and physical growth, reality will never overwhelm us but only help us to learn more and discover more. Each of us has a chance to live a free and happy life. It is what we are doing in the quiet moments of everyday life that give us the preparation for the Storms of Life.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Tue, Aug 30, 2011