How to navigate a crisis and come out stronger
(Family Features) When life, or the people in your life, push your limits, the emotional load may feel insurmountable. Making sense of the chaos in your life can allow you to rediscover peace and joy, but circumstances like a world crisis can complicate the process of emotional healing.
“Almost nobody is trained on what to do with their emotions in times of crisis and stress, and most of us are never taught how to manage our emotions in normal times,” said Eric Paskel, who holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology and is a licensed marriage, family and child therapist. “If you’ve ever admired someone who was cool under pressure then you know it’s possible to emotionally survive, and even thrive, in a crisis.”
Paskel, an author and motivational speaker, has spent 34 years exploring how human beings can rise above their dysfunctional tendencies and control their emotions. He has developed a series of resources to help individuals prevent their emotions from owning them in a crisis, allow people to do more observing and less reacting and take decisive actions to help themselves and their loved ones.
Learn how to take charge of your emotional health with these practical and effective tips, adapted from Paskel’s Emotional Survival Kit, a free online video course on personal crisis management.
Be Open to Learning
During a crisis is when personal growth is most possible. During adversity and crisis, there are always lessons to be learned and shared. Sometimes growth comes as the result of overcoming the pain of a crisis, but there are other sources of growth.
To accelerate your growth, begin by recognizing you need help then be willing to accept that help. It may come in the form of advice from a professional or it may be simply listening to the perspective of others with similar experiences.
Look for Opportunity
A simple change in perspective like a crisis or a forced change, such as having to work from home, is both a challenge and an opportunity, although the challenges and benefits will likely be different for each individual person.
Some people will benefit from the isolation, which they’ll see as solitude. Some will be challenged by a noisy home while others will be thrilled to have the company of family or roommates all day. The key is to find a way to turn those challenges into gold.
Begin by identifying your challenges. Then find the silver lining. What are the benefits that come with these challenges? It may be that your rigorous travel schedule allows more time at home or that you’ve been able to tackle a long-standing list of lower-priority tasks. Then choose to focus on the positive and find ways to adapt to the challenges. Use your former commute time to practice yoga or exercise. Buy noise-cancelling headphones to reduce distractions. Find different strategies that work for you.
Being self-sufficient is critical to your personal and emotional freedom and a crisis can serve as an opportunity to become more self-sufficient. Being self-sufficient means you’re able to manage yourself and have sovereignty over your body and mind. It means your thoughts and emotions do not control you; you control them.
Consider the example of an ending relationship. If you’re codependent, the end of that relationship is more likely to devastate and destroy you. If you’re self-sufficient, as painful as the end of a relationship or a life situation may be, you can let it go and move on to the next chapter in your life.
You can always find joy, even in the midst of change, confusion, chaos or crisis. Celebration comes from the way one chooses to see, perceive and be in the world. However, you may have trepidation about celebrating and having joy when others are focusing on negativity or you see suffering in the world around you.
Confetti flying and champagne bottles popping isn’t what defines joy; joy comes out of positivity. Celebration comes out of acknowledgements and affirmations, and out of your sense of freedom and purpose. Finding joy is not just for joyous moments. Embracing joy and celebrating in challenging times can help reframe your mentality about what challenges really are and help provide longer-lasting positive effects on your body and mind.
Know You’re Not Alone
You may think you’re alone, especially during hard times, but when you understand it’s a matter of creating relationships and making connections, you’ll never feel truly lonely again. Whatever it is, the difficulty you’re going through isn’t unique to just you. Once you understand that other people have been through your problem, you will be able to understand that you have a large pool of connections and help.
Just connecting with other people who’ve had the same experiences can give you an emotional tailwind to push you forward. Recognize that feeling alone is a warning sign that you need to reach out to loved ones. Daily maintenance, contact, connection and working on relationships can help keep you from feeling disconnected from the world around you.
Learn how to manage your way through troubling times and become part of the solution at ericpaskel.com.