As we brace for a third day in a row of record-smashing heat here in New Orleans, I find myself questioning whether I'm prepared: how are my air-conditioning units working? Do they need to be serviced? Where can I find a nice, shady parking spot for my car? Do we have enough water? Etc., etc. I would like to think that I am adequately prepared for the extreme conditions. But there is always that chance that the one thing I didn't think about may happen. How will I react? Will I be able to calmly assess the situation, corral my resources, and get the problem solved?
Having a strategy to manage the unpredictable is critical in life, not only with physical or environmental issues, such as extreme heat, but also with emotional, psychological, and spiritual crises. In fact, I would argue that the latter is much more critical: if the stressful circumstances of life cause mental meltdowns, we are basically powerless to effect the proper and prudent solutions we need to live a truly satisfying and fulfilling life, getting as close as possible to our highest potential as human beings. Or, to put it more concretely, if I cannot keep anxiety, worry, and depression at bay long enough to take my car to the shop to get the air-conditioner serviced, I ought best prepare myself for a long, hot, and overwhelmingly stressful summer.
If your efforts to control overpowering emotions consistently seem to fall flat, it may be time to consider enlisting the assistance of a psychotherapist, counselor, or other mental health professional, someone who can help you strategize and overcome your deficits, whether it be crippling anxiety or depression, or long-standing issues from the past that refuse to leave you in peace. That, plus a fine-tuned, freshly serviced air-conditioner, could make this summer your best yet!