Constructive Chaos…John Page Burton

We have all gone through chaotic periods where everything around us seemed to be blowing up, changing form, dying off or simply no longer served us. The irony of chaos is that it presents us with the opportunity to see things more clearly. In what I once described as the “worst year of my life”, I lost my father to Cancer, went through a divorce, closed my business and moved to a new city. Chaos was my constant companion. A decade removed from this set of challenges, I can now clearly see how these experiences provided me with the “constructive chaos” necessary to move me to the next level of my personal development. Not only did I learn and grow from my chaos but it propelled me toward the amazing life I enjoy today!


Disorder- Whenever we go through a chaotic period, things tend to fall into disarray. Many of us are so engaged in the chaos at hand that we end up creating additional chaos in other areas of our lives. For example, our eating, sleeping and exercise habits may be effected which in turn creates chaos in our bodies. Our inability to explicitly communicate our feelings may cause chaos in our relationships. Disorder feeds off of chaos.

Confusion- Common to chaos is an initial state of confusion. Our world has been significantly disrupted and we’re not quite sure what is going on? The recent Boston Marathon bombing illustrates chaos and confusion on a grand scale. Whenever a traumatic event occurs in our personal lives, most of us find ourselves in a temporary state of confusion, followed by a degree of chaos. The greater the trauma, the greater the potential for chaos. Trauma of any kind represents a “bomb” going off in our lives, leaving us with a profound feeling of disorientation.

Turmoil- During chaotic times, it is common to experience both internal and external turmoil. Little things can agitate us for no apparent reason. We may become agitated by a familiar scent or an off hand comment from a well meaning friend. During periods of chaos most of us are wound pretty tight and it doesn’t take much to ignite our fuse.

Sadness- Whenever our world has been turned upside down it is normal to feel a profound sense of sadness. Our dream of the perfect marriage, long term career, “forever friends” or a healthy body may have been shattered. When this happens we are bound to feel sad and then many of us get MAD!

Anger- Anger is a common emotion in the world of chaos. Some of the more common subjects of our anger include, God, spouses, employers, doctors, siblings and friends. At first, we are likely to blame them for the confusion and chaos we are experiencing. For example, if we receive a less than favorable health report regarding ourselves or a loved one, we may become angry at the doctor and then transfer that anger toward God and then begin expressing anger toward ourselves. Our life has been turned upside down and we are pissed off! Anger is a natural response to feeling out of control.


Experiential growth- Chaos can be very enlightening, provided we learn from our experiences. Because we have “survived chaos” we are better equipped to handle future chaos and believe me, it will come!

Communicating our true feelings- A chaotic period of time or a specific experience often makes us better communicators. For example, having recently lost a close friend to a tragic accident, I now make it a point to always tell my friends and family how much they mean to me. Prior to my friends accident, I took a casual approach in sharing my feelings of love and appreciation.

Profitable- Some of the most chaotic periods in my life have also been the most profitable. The wisdom I gained and the lessons I learned during the chaos caused me to make better life and business decisions.

Change agent- Chaos is almost always a catalyst for change. Chaos is uncomfortable and when we get uncomfortable most of us tend to start moving about and when we start moving about we discover the bigger life that lies outside ourselves.

Paying it forward- As a “chaos survivor” we are now in a position to provide encouragement to others. I have built a very successful coaching practice because of the skills and strategies I have learned as a “chaos survivor”. Everyday I have an opportunity to to share what I have learned with those who are seeking answers.


Earlier, I shared a very chaotic period in my life. During this particular period of chaos I learned to practice compassion. My dad and I enjoyed a chance to finally connect on a heart level and when he transitioned we were at peace. My divorce effectively ended my run as a serial rescuer. I created the space to connect with my authentic self which opened the door to meet the incredible women I have spent the last six years with. Although at first it was emotionally and financially challenging, closing my business allowed me to determine what I truly desired to do. I followed my passion and now earn my living as a writer and life coach. I survived the chaos, gained clarity, grew as a person and during the process I learned how to show myself some grace. In short, my chaos turned out to be a very constructive period in my life.

As always, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback!

2 thoughts on “Constructive Chaos…John Page Burton

  1. Wow! Thank you for sharing! This is something I needed to read. I am pretty close to where you were in the middle of your constructive chaos. Actually just wrote about it today on FB. You are a beacon of light for me today! Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s