Use Stabilization Points to Turn Chaos Into Sanity

 Photo by Lucy Chian

Photo by Lucy Chian

You’ve got some chaos going on. It could be a bunch of todos pilling up or a tragic event. I get it. Whatever levels of chaos you’re experiencing, it’s a worthy skill to be able to turn it into sanity.

When I’m overwhelmed, the question I ask is what can I grab a hold of in times of uncertainty?

A bad practice is to wait for clarity to come like a strike of lighting that points the way. If chaos is not dealt with, it remains intact.

Managing a sea of uncertainty requires stabilization points...

When everything is unclear, there is no structure, nothing to guide your actions.

You can’t control all the chaos you have in your life, but you can use stabilization points to anchor yourself. It’s a tool to give structure and a method for dealing with chaos.

Chaos seems like an external force that can strike from any direction. Even if it’s your mind that’s creating it (that's usually the case for me), you can feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole or Dorothy swirling around in a twister.

Stabilization points create focus, helping you center yourself, which is what you need when you feel like you have no control—you have to create control over yourself. It starts from inside.

I find it helpful to plan, define, and respect your stabilization points, almost with religious fervor. This is about being methodical and habitual, rather than wondering what result will come.

I suggest that you create two stabilization points. Here are mine:

  1. Playing music (learning)

  2. Doing an activity outside (exercise)

Playing Music

I’ve been a musician for over 20 years. It’s no surprise that I turn to it to help balance my chaos. Music is pure emotion. Playing an instrument can help channel chaotic emotions in a positive way.

Drinking too much, excessive drugs, and even abuse, are just expressions of improper handling of emotions. Emotions are volatile and there is no better antidote to chaotic emotions than playing music. You can take a pill or have a drink, but playing a happy or sad chord changes your emotion.

Isn’t that powerful? You can use that power to your advantage. Either by altering your mood, or complementing it with chords that match your current emotions—it’s like giving yourself a dose of empathy.

Catharsis is a by-product of playing music that binds you to the current moment. Chaos brings you out of the current moment, making you focus on the external versus the internal.

Active stabilization points bring you into the present, with both the beauty and pain, center stage, blazing under a white-hot spotlight. When your emotion is on display like this, it gives you the chance to examine, process, and separate it.

A similar experience can occur from listening, but listening is passive. Playing music is an activity, and it’s activities that change your state of mind.

I talked about this in my article, “The Most Unusual Way to Experience Gratitude,” that thinking is not an action. The only way that a stabilization point will help you deal with your chaos is if it’s an action.

When you struggle to learn a new chord, you are creating the vibration with your fingers, mouth, or vocal chords.

I’d argue that the things that are most important have vibration in common. Just think about communication and sex. Vibration is paramount to both of these. Music is really the combination of organized vibration that affects us through our emotions.

You can use any stabilization point that you want but I recommend picking up an instrument. It's one of the best ways to change your emotions with vibrations, rather than using alcohol or drugs.

Outside Activity

My second stabilization point is doing an activity outside. Exercise seems like such a nasty and loaded word that no one wants to hear about...but it’s what I really mean.

Go sweat outside. Go for a run, hike, ride your bike, or walk. Skip air-conditioning for 30 minutes.

I’ve been going to a park down the street from my kid’s school for a few weeks. It’s a group of gigantic hills, as far as Florida standards go. I call it “the mountain” and it has a nice view of the entire neighborhood at the top. It reminds me of when I use to live in California, where the city and nature overlapped and mingled together.

I’ve been going there every day and taking a jog. I’m not training to be a pro runner, I just go there to beat out the chaos that is running through my mind. It’s a bonus that I’m looking more fit. I go in the middle of the day so I can burn in the sun.

Here’s a key point, I used to bring my phone and headphones to listen to music but I don’t suggest you do that.

The whole point of using an activity as a stabilization point is to rejuvenate your mind. You have to step away from distractions that can pull you back into the land of chaos, like emails or text messages. It’s not hard to gain a little order out of chaos—we just lack the practice.

Trust me, leave your phone in the car. Take a run and listen to your breath and the sound your feet make against the ground. Just like in music, vibrations are important here too. If you want to rejuvenate your mind, you have to give your mind space to do it.

This is often why we feel so chaotic, because everything is immediate and fast-paced, emails and text message, transferring money, signing documents...

It’s outward versus inward. This is the time to go inward. Step away from all that and listen to the music of your body out in nature.

Stabilization points can be anything that you decide, as long as it’s an action. The point is that it’s proactive and simple. You might not have the answers to your problems when you return to them, but it’s better to have something solid to hold on to then waiting for everything to make sense.

And besides… I’ve found that more often than not, that getting outside triggers insight that helps me deal with the chaos at hand.

So what two stabilization points will you add to your day? Try them out for a week and let me know your results.