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We Can Choose How To Respond

My heart goes out to everyone who has been impacted by so many disasters of late, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey and wildfires out West. Most likely, every one of us who wasn’t directly affected knows someone who was. If you’re like me, you spent days glued to the TV, watching the hurricanes approach and finally hit, and then the devastating aftermath with so much loss of life and property. If you weren’t there in person, you probably also spent a lot of time worrying about friends and family.

As you probably did, I spent a lot of time emailing, texting, and calling friends and family in Florida, Texas, and out West (thankfully, everyone in my world was OK).

I was also staying in touch with Anne, a friend who has homes at the Jersey shore and in Sarasota, Florida. During Irma, Anne was in New Jersey though, her boyfriend had decided to stay in Sarasota and ride the storm out. Staying connected with Anne throughout Irma, worrying with her, and watching her actively manage her fear was inspiring.

Her boyfriend was OK, but trust me, she wasn’t happy he had stayed in Florida! Anne is an emergency room nurse so she’s certainly good at keeping her cool under life threatening circumstances. Yet, she told me that managing her fear so she didn’t yell at her boyfriend for his decision to stay in Florida was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. And I would say, also one of the most loving.

Basically, there are two kinds of change that we have to deal with—that which we choose (like moving to a new home) and that which we didn’t and never would, like the massive disruption that events like hurricanes and wildfires wreck upon our lives. What’s inspiring is the fact that change that is thrust upon us often brings out the best angels of our nature. We see so many examples of neighbors helping neighbors and strangers risking (and sometimes losing) their lives because, for them, it was simply the right thing to do.

That level of resilience and demonstrating the best of our humanity is awe-inspiring and frankly humbling. Yet, even under disastrous circumstances, we have the ability to choose who we’re going to be and how we respond, regardless of what gets thrown at us in life. Attached is an article I wrote “Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life” about our human ability to be resilient and choose who we’re going to be in any moment. It has some practical tips for staying in what I call Learner mindset (like Anne did) and avoiding (or recovering from) our normal human and fear-based self, which I call Judger mindset (which Anne also did). While this may sound challenging (and it can be), truly I think it’s one of the worthwhile things we’ll ever learn to do.

I hope you’ll find the article useful. Feel free to share it with anyone you like. And please accept my prayers for whatever you’re dealing with right now.

With warm regards,

This letter has been published with permission from Marilee Adams, President and Founder of The Inquiry Institute, and ILCT Faculty Member. Marilee can be contacted through her website,