airplane flying through rain

Be in The Turbulence or How to Feel More at Ease During Challenging Time

Last Thursday I flew to Florida to visit my dad (and boy are my arms tired. Forgive me, I couldn’t help it). He retired to the Fort Lauderdale area nearly 16 years ago. 

Mid flight we hit some turbulence.

Now, you might think, Yeah, so what? Planes hit turbulence all the time.

It’s true, they do. What made this different was how I handled the turbulence.

See, in the past I’d hold my breath and either grab my husband’s hand, a strangers hand (when traveling alone) or hold the arm rest so tight my finger tingled. Then I’d take some deep breaths to squash the anxiety (never worked) and pray that the turbulence ended soon.

What can I say, I like a smooth ride. And I’ll do anything in my power to control that outcome.

This time, though, I allowed myself to feel the turbulence. I didn’t grab the seat or sit upright. My fingers didn’t tingle. Instead I relaxed into my seat, buckled up, and let my body shake with the bumps.

And you know what happened? A wave of ease washed over me. There was something oddly comforting about allowing my body to shake with the turbulence. Like feeling lulled to sleep on a moving subway.

Within a few minutes we had flown through the turbulence and had a smooth flight to Fort Lauderdale. No strangers needed to hold my hand.

Life is full of turbulence

You know what this made me think about? All the turbulence we experience in our lives:

  • Anxiety before a big presentation
  • Talking to strangers at networking event
  • A global pandemic
  • Loss of loved ones
  • The war in Ukraine

And on and on and on (Tired yet?)

Like a plane often hits turbulence, so do people (and teams and communities…). It’s not the turbulence that matters as much as how we handle the turbulence.

How We Handle The Turbulence Matters

Let’s use the last 2 years as an example. How did you handle the turbulence?

I wish I could say I handled the turbulence of the last 2 years with ease but I can’t. It rattled me and it wasn’t comforting.

For me it started with anger, then yelling, then frustration, then fixing, then lots and lots of yoga/meditation, then retreating.

Nothing seemed to work. Until I realized…

  • The real problem (for me) was NOT SEEING PEOPLE. So I made some adjustments to make sure I spent time outside of the house and in the company of others. This has made a huge difference. 
  • I don’t have to retreat when I’m feeling turbulent, I can keep showing up, sharing my (messy) truth, and create spaces for others to do the same. We can be in the turbulence together.

What works for you?

The Bottom Line

A 600 word essay may make dealing with turbulence sound incredibly simplistic. It’s not.

Practices like yoga, meditation/mindfulness, reflective writing, and the act of letting go (of careers, relationships, self-identify, etc) remind us of what’s possible and to stay flexible and adapt.

While I may have handled the airplane turbulence with ease, there is no guarantee that will happen again.

What I am sure of is this: each and every one of us has what it takes if we’re willing to be aware of whats happening, be accountable to ourselves and take action to ease into, instead of control, the experience.

Then, you may find that instead of dreading the turbulence, you feel oddly comforted by it.

Your turn to talk to me

How do you feel about flying these days?

Have any trips planned?

Where are you going?

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