I was watching a news program recently and there was a story about one state’s improved emergency preparedness and management efforts in the event of a hurricane. Local, federal, and other partners would soon conduct an exercise to practice responding to potential emergency scenarios. There was also a call for family and businesses to create or update similar emergency preparedness plans.
It was not until much later that evening that it occurred to me how relevant that news piece was to our everyday lives, and particularly our relationships.
Many of our relationships, at some time or another, have experienced tumultuous periods. Periods of events or occurrences that has carried the force of a hurricane and has nearly destroyed everything around us-and between ourselves and our partners or spouses. Some decide to stay and rebuild, others decide to move on, relocate, and start over. When I thought about this, I realized that whether we were on the side of staying and rebuilding or the side of moving on and starting over, storms will come.
The question, then, is “What have we learned from the last storm?” How has the previous storm(s) informed us? What have the storms before told us about the nature of a potential storm? What did we do well and what things can we do better, more of, or differently? What should we give more attention to in the future? What is your emergency preparedness and management plan?
Obviously, a plan for a natural disaster in our environment will be a bit different from one that happens in our personal relationships, but what is similar is that once we’ve gone through a storm, there are things to be learned. In the storms of our relationships, we learn things about ourselves, our partners, and our pattern of interaction. Or, at least we should. There is not much sense in rebuilding if we are going to do nothing differently. If we have not learned anything about our “structure and/or foundation”, our “response and/or our resource deficiency”, it is likely that we will not effectively manage the next “storm”. Even if we decide to move on and start over, we have to consider our own contribution to the unstable structure, or the poor foundation. We have to consider our own responses in the pattern of interaction that has precipitated storms in the past. Then, we have to do something different.
Knowledge alone changes nothing. We have to not only be informed, but we have to allow what we have learned to inform our actions to bring about change. Does this mean that we won’t encounter storms? Absolutely not, storms will come. When they come up again in our relationships, however, we should be striving to be able to see with wider eyes, listen with sharper hearing, speak with greater caution, respond with increased patience, think with a clearer mind, and understand with a more open heart. For some, this will mean staying and rebuilding and for others, this means moving on.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.