Chaos theory

Illustration by Comfreak. Courtesy of

So many outside forces are creating chaos around us we may think we are powerless to do anything to change the situation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether chaos is created by the political situation in our country, a health issue you are experiencing, a crazy relative, an intrusive neighbor, or a grumpy spouse, you can move towards the chaos or away from it.

When we get caught up in whatever is going on we add our emotions to the zeitgeist swirling around us. This emotional current acts like electricity in the body. Years ago during a thunderstorm a lightning bolt came through the ground and into a puddle in which I was standing in bare feet. As the electricity surged through my body, my muscles froze. I could not move and I could not scream. As soon as the charge dissipated, I did both. Fortunately, I was not seriously injured but the event left a lasting impression.

Chaos may feel like a bolt out of the blue. But just like an approaching thunderstorm there are many warnings before it hits. We risk getting zapped when we ignore clouds on the horizon, rumbles of thunder, and distant flashes of lightning. The correct response to gathering dark clouds is to find a safe place to stay until the storm passes.

Too often we become fascinated by and engrossed in chaos at the national, local, or personal level. We get hooked on the emotional charge chaos creates and begin to seek it out rather than move away from it. We may mistakenly believe we can get up close and personal with chaos and not get sucked in. That is like walking towards a tornado and thinking you’ll come away unscathed as cows, rooftops, and cars swirl around you.

Why do we let chaos into our lives? Sometimes it is the antidote to boredom giving us something on which to focus our attention. Sometimes it keeps us from examining a painful situation and feeling emotions we would rather keep buried. Sometimes chaos allows us to excuse ourselves from taking responsibility for our lives. Chaos can create a false sense of superiority. We tell ourselves, “Look at that. See, my life isn’t so bad.”

Chaos begets chaos. Disorder, upheaval, and confusion are a few of its offspring. Together they create a family tree filled with discomfort, guilt, wasted time, and lost opportunities. When the warning signs of chaos appear on the horizon find your safe space and seek shelter from the emotional storm that is brewing.

Protect your emotional well-being the same way you would protect yourself in a storm. That may mean not watching the news, not taking a phone call from a family member, getting out of the house or avoiding a toxic personality. The chaos will pass eventually and you will emerge unscathed and ready to face the situation with a clear head, calm heart, and accurate assessment of your surroundings.

Kathryn Avery

About Kathryn Avery

When Kathryn Severns Avery’s husband, Chris, began contemplating retirement in 2014, she knew they had to quickly come up with a multi-faceted plan. They spent the next year discussing, sometimes heatedly, what they would do once he stopped working. On paper their plan looked exciting. They would head from Colorado to the 1891 sea captain’s house they bought and renovated in Rockland on Maine’s midcoast. But the reality of planning and implementing retirement was much different than expected. Kathryn has worked in radio, television, marketing, and public relations. She is the author of five books and has written articles on interior design and crafts for national and regional publications including Romantic Homes, Log Homes Illustrated, The Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles.