12 days before my son’s wedding he and his fiancée were trapped in their home, surrounded by water. My husband and I were in Austin watching news coverage of people being rescued, some by helicopter. I was an emotional wreck – completely caught up in all of the negative possibilities. Thankfully, they never lost power and didn’t get any water in their house, but it was close.
As the water began to recede and we plotted our route back to Houston, we started talking about the likelihood that the rehearsal dinner and the wedding could take place. I was too quick to say, “It’s probably a long shot.” Once I knew my family, friends and clients were safe, however, my brain was able to make a shift and I said out loud, “I choose optimism!” The powerful stories of people all over the Houston area choosing optimism in the midst of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation and despair continued to encourage me.
It’s one thing to talk rationally about how emotion can highjack our brains; it’s another to experience that highjacking so viscerally. I need a lot more practice at choosing optimism at every opportunity so I can rely on that “muscle memory” when I need it most. Rather than dwell on the negative emotions like fear of what lies ahead, anger at the bureaucratic nightmare of insurance claims or survivor guilt for those who didn’t suffer damage, we can remind each other of the power of optimism. #houstonstrong