Weather as a Focus for Anxiety

It’s been fascinating to watch, from a safe, rainy distance in Oregon, the impact of this week’s huge storm. I began to notice my own and others’ anxiety around weather years ago after hearing Edwin Friedman comment on it. One winter he was thinking about canceling one of his seminars because of predicted bad weather. Before deciding, he changed the TV channel and watched a different weather reporter who suggested it wasn’t going to be so bad. He said this reporter just seemed less anxious. And so he decided to go ahead with it, and everything was fine.

Obviously, with a storm of this magnitude the thoughtful response is to cancel, and the anxious response is to plow through no matter what. I’m wondering why people are blaming the city of Chicago for taking too long to close Lakeshore Drive, rather than suggesting drivers take responsibility for their choices in heading out later than they should have. Every time Portland has a big snowstorm (very rarely), people get up in arms about the city’s response. I was at a meeting here once where a few flakes started falling, and people immediately got up to go home. It doesn’t take much weather here to get people’s anxiety going.

As a pastor in Massachusetts, I usually got very anxious about whether I should cancel events or not, especially Sunday worship. Once I got curious about my response and the responses of others, it was a lot easier. Even a snowstorm can become an interesting case.

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