2022 started at warp speed, and to say that the chaos of 2020-2021 continues is an understatement. We constantly receive distressing information from our peers, cellphones, politicians, and televisions. Our world is always on high-alert, and even the turmoil that used to feel distant is now in our back pockets. It’s a non-stop pace of polarization, a never-ending stream of expecting the unexpected. And yet, at least where I’ve observed, there are glimmers of hope… and that gives me hope. The reality is, we’re adapting to a new baseline, settling into what this new version of our lives means regardless of opinions or politics.
Collectively, we’re realizing that it’s OK to not be OK, or at least, it can be. Even historically, the idea of chaos is often surrounded by darkness, referring to the things we can’t predict or control. In Greek mythology, chaos was one of the first primordial deities, both a God and a concept, representing a powerful shadowy realm.
By learning to embrace chaos vs. trying and failing to tame it (an impossible task), we can move forward in more personally meaningful ways. Some theories in neuroscience actually suggest that our minds always operate at a “critical state,” which is like the brink of chaos, somewhere between randomness and order.
Knowing this, how do we start to work with chaos instead of against it?
To work with chaos vs. against it, it helps to get really clear about a few key things. When it feels like you’re tumbling into an abyss of burnout, fatigue, or confusion, and you don’t know which way is up, pause and ask yourself these four questions:
As much as it feels like an invention of the last three years, chaos isn’t new. We’ve always lived in a state of randomness and unknowns; we just weren’t as acutely aware of it as we are now. The truth is that we can’t control the mess, but we can exert a level of control over our thoughts, behaviors, and reactions.
If we can get clear about what we value and where we want to go, then we can take measured, moment-by-moment steps through chaos, despite chaos, and maybe even because of chaos to fulfill our personal goals.