How will you handle the crises in your life?

December 1, 2019

In today’s post to his Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack Freed used this quote from John F. Kennedy  – “When written in Chinese the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters—one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” 

We will all face a few crises in our lives or at least situations that we feel are crises. How we react to them perhaps depends upon which of the Chinese characters we see. Do you see only the danger in a crisis or can you see the opportunity. We see and hear on the news almost daily about “heroes” who spring into action to rescue someone who is experiencing a crisis moment – perhaps involving an accident or fire or some other calamity. I’m sure that those heroes see the danger involved, but they choose to take the opportunity to help.

More important for most of us is how we, ourselves, with handle the crises that life throws our way. Those who see only the dangers involved may seek relief by hiding or withdrawing into their own protective shells. It is all too easy to let fear take hold and paralyze us from taking any actions. Maybe we don’t step in when we see bullying taking place or perhaps we cross the street to avoid the person with whom we have a disagreement. Maybe we refused to believe that a mistake that we have made has ended a relationship. In the realm of “fight or flight” reactions, those are all flight responses to crises.

The response that sees opportunity in the crisis is not necessarily a “fight “response so much as it is a “take action” response. These people see the opportunity in the situation – the opportunity to do something in response.  People who see opportunity in crises immediately go in to problem solving mode, whether it’s jumping into action and quickly figuring out a rescue plan at an accident or conflagration, or assessing what needs to be said or done to defuse and calm a personal conflict. It’s not so much that they don’t see the danger in the situation (after all the burning car right in front of them is hard to miss), it’s just that the opportunity to help, to do something , overrides their fear of personal danger. They NEED to act – to seize the opportunity.

For most of us, life is quite a bit less dramatic than encountering accidents with people trapped in burning cars or, maybe,  having to react in an active shooter incident. Our “crises” are usually the result of interpersonal conflicts or misunderstandings and certainly the “danger” involved is usually not immediately  life threatening.  For some, however, the anxiety or depression that can result from these crises is life threatening in a very real way. Setbacks or dissapointments may become crises because of their inability to deal with the events that occur in their lives. Those “crises” may represent an opportunity for you to jump in to save the life of your friend or loved one; but, that’s a topic for a future post.

What is a crisis? There is an interesting article on the Marking 91 web site that classifies 8 different types of crises –

  1. Technological
  2. Financial
  3. Natural
  4. A crisis of malice
  5. A crisis of deception
  6. A Confrontational crisis
  7. A crisis of organizational misdeeds
  8. Workplace violence

Who knew that crises could be so neatly categorized? Go read the article and see if there are any other categories that you might add.

No matter what the crisis the key thing is how you deal with it. I’ve posted here a few times on problem solving, so I won’t repeat all of the at advice. Just search problem solving to see the posts.  What this post is focused upon is the recognition that one is in a crisis situation and the considered decision to deal with it rationally. It is not unusual for crises to occur at a fast pace and perhaps in a confusing environment. That makes it all the more important to be able to step back for an instance, recognize that you are dealing with a situation that requires that you take some action and then formulate a quick action plan. Just that moment of clarity is often enough to snap you out of panic and into problem solving mode. In that moment, you have regained control, not of the situation, but of yourself.

Some people actually think ahead about what they might do in a crisis situation. Airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger said in his post crisis interviews that he had been thinking hew entire career about what to do if the plane that he was piloting suffered a catastrophic failure of both engines. He certainly didn’t think that he would ever have to put those plans into action until the day that he had to land his crippled plane in the Hudson river. I have also posted here in the past about not overthinking (called worrying) about all possible outcomes for some future event, especially those involving personal confrontations. There is a big difference between doing some planning and just plain worrying about things.

So, how will you handle future crises? It is OK to recognize the danger in the situation. That keeps one from becoming foolhardy. Rather, try to keep calm and focus upon the opportunity that is also there. There ae good, bad and ugly possible outcomes in all situations and you can find he good outcome if you just look for it. If you are a person of faith, take heart in this passage from Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Imagine how much better you could handle the crises in your life if you approached each one with the Peace of God in your heart and mind.

Be at Peace and see the opportunities.


Give it some time…

September 18, 2015

From a recent post on the  Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this interesting little quote – “Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may be actually falling into place.”  (Spirit Science) Jack went on to advise that we all let things play out and give them time, because most of the time things work out if you give them time to.

panicHow many of us know a drama queen or king for who every problem is a crisis, every rejection the end of the world and every setback seems to be the end of life as they know it? It’s easy when in the midst of bad things happening to see everything as disastrous or threatening. The world that you were comfortable inhabiting can seem to be falling apart. It is hard to see any good coming out of something that you believe is bad.

Things can fall apart in the business world, too. Sometimes it’s best if they do. There is a concept called creative destruction in which the old order is systematically destroyed to make way for a new way of doing things. That may involve blowing up an old organizational structure in order to put in place a new organization that is better suited to deal with the markets of today. It could even mean getting rid of the very products that got the company to where it is now, because it is obvious that they cannot carry it into the future.

I suppose in our personal lives the act of divorce is a form of creative destruction, since it clears the way for new unions that might serve both parties better. It’s certainly a case of things falling apart that quite often lead to things falling into place for both ex-‘s. If there are children involved it is hard on them, but most times works out for the surrounded by sharksbetter in the long run for them, too.

I suspect that the main thing that we dread when things seem to be falling apart is that we aren’t in control; or, we don’t seem to be anyway. That’s because we focus on things that never were within our control instead of the one thing that we always have control over – our reactions to events. We tend to look for someone to blame for the things that we can’t control and failing that we blame ourselves for not seeing the disaster coming and doing something to avoid it – again something that we likely had no control over.

Instead of spending a lot of time and emotional energy fretting about why things have happened or wondering why you couldn’t or didn’t avoid it, maybe you should focus on helping things fall into place by figuring out how to make the best of the situation that you find yourself in. The destructive phase has already occurred, so maybe it’s painted into cornertime to focus on the creative part of the process. The old is gone, no matter what or who it was; focus now on the future – making the best of what or who is next in your life. It’s only when you can let go of the old that you can embrace the new and get on with life.

Sometimes taking a moment to reflect on past disasters from the perspective of time will help you realize that you lived through them and you will live through the current one, too. Sure it may have hurt for a while – all of life’s boo-boo’s do – but eventually the pain subsidies and is replaced by new joys. For those who turn to their faith in times of crisis, there is helpful guidance in the Bible –

2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a prayingglory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

For all of us, there is ample proof all around us that the crises that we hit in day-to-day life do not mean that things are falling apart. They are changing. You are changing. Give it some time and things will fall into place, albeit a new place. Things will be different but you will still be here. Be creative with the new you that will result. Have a great new day.


Can we talk?

September 9, 2015

“Sometimes having coffee with your best friend is all you need.”  (Sent by LG) – as featured on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write about the late Joan Rivers and her famous line, “Can we talk?”

girls huggingThere are times when we all have the need to talk things out, either directly with someone with whom we may be having an issue or just with a friend when the topic may not be about a personal conflict. There are also times when a friend of ours may need to talk to someone and turns to us. Whether you are the talker or the listener in times of need, the act of talking and listening is important to both of you.

It is very helpful sometimes to have to put your feelings into words. Emotions are a reaction to something that has happened in your life and it helps if you find a way to verbalize that something and think a little about your reaction to it. There are obvious things, like the loss of a loved one that cause emotional reactions; but, there are many other things that may cause fear or anger or hatred or remorse and we need to understand them better and why we have reacted as we have. Talking things out can help you get to the root of the problem. You may not always like what you find there, since mental pre-sets like prejudice or stereotyping may have led you astray; but even coming to an understanding of those preconceived notions is helpful. Sometimes you may even say to yourself, “I can’t believe that I just said that out loud.” That’s OK, too; at least you got it out and now you can deal with it.

If you happen to be in the role of the listener for someone who needs to talk, take you role seriously. That personlistening has put a lot of trust and faith in you to be there for them, so you need to be a good listener and a good friend at that moment. Trying to laugh off whatever problem that they are sharing with you is not helpful. Commiserating with them is not the answer either. They came to you for help, not pity. Your real role in these types of situations is to provide the common-sense guidance on how to cope or deal with the matter at hand that they cannot muster at the moment.

Many times the best advice that you can provide may be to help them reconnect with their faith and to unload their burden on the God that they have trusted all of their lives. Help them get to the mental state where they can say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Once they have done that they can begin the journey back to a more normal life.

prayingThere is a tipping point in all crises where one can fall off the cliff into depression or see the light and head back into life. As the listener in the conversation, it is your job to help them see that light. Giving advice like “shake it off” or “put on your big girl panties” may sound like something that you should say; however, finding a way to have them trust and lean on their faith in crises is much more useful. If they can turn to God and say, “Can we talk?” they will find the help that they really need. Show them that door and let them open it and go through it. Then, remember where it’s at, because you’ll probably need it someday yourself.


Dancing in the rain…

July 10, 2015

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Green

I saw that little saying on a  plaque (the kind you would probably buy in a card shop) in a house that I showed recently. Vivian Green is a successful greeting card writer, so this little saying is representative of the catchy types of things that she comes up with for her cards. It may be written off as a vacuous little ditty, but it can lead to some valuable insight into life if you really think about it.

rain cloudIf you are experiencing a storm in your life; what are your choices? Accept what has just happen to you as your fate and go on in life depressed about it, deny that what just happened to you actually happened and try to go on with life as it never happened, deal with what just happened to you as just another challenge to be overcome as you get on with life, write off what just happened to you as being really not that important on the bigger scheme of things and go on with life, embrace what just happened to you as a learning experience and make the necessary adjustments as you go on with life. What’s the common theme – life goes on. How you deal with what happens to you in life will determine the quality of the life that you go on with. All of the choices above (and more) are possible, with some being more probable than others depending upon your attitude and mental state.

We all tend, from time to time, to “hunker down” and try to wait out a storm in our lives; some bad thing that has happened or that we think is about to happen. Maybe it is a confrontational situation – the need to let someone go at work or the need to do the “it’s not you, it’s me” break-up thing. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one. Maybe it’s thegirl crying loss of a job. Whatever the storm is in your life; it is important to stop and think about how you are reacting to it and ask yourself honestly if that is how you really want to act. Sometimes it’s OK to admit to yourself that you really needed a good cry; you needed to get that pain out through those tears. Sometimes you may find that you stop yourself from going down a path in reaction to things, because that path is defined by anger and striking back in revenge – not a good path to go down. Sometimes you may just be confused and unable to immediately decide how you should react.

Many times in a crisis you may have the knee-jerk reaction that somehow God and your faith have let you down. After all, how could God let this happen to you? These are all times when your faith is actually memore important than ever. There is nothing else in life that you can count on more than your faith, not even life itself. Everything else is temporary and will eventually fade away. Think about it. Is there anything else but your faith that is associated with the concept of eternity?  Is there anything else besides the resurrection promised by
your faith that you believe will be there the instant after you leave this life? Can you even conceive of anything more powerful than God? If not, then why would you not turn to your faith and to God in a storm? And if you do that, why would you not dance in the rain? It’s not so much that you have just learned to dance in the rain; but rather that you have learned to trust God and that trust allows you to dance in the rain; it frees you to dance in the rain; it compels you to dance in the rain.

So the next time that you encounter someone who appears to be dancing in the rain and weathering the stormsbelieve that life has thrown their way, maybe you have just encountered a believer who has put his or her trust in God to get them through the storm. Maybe they’ll share some of their faith with you and you can learn to dance in the rains that occur in your life.