Options for you in this time of Crisis

Crisis

Of late, there have been a great many difficult circumstances facing us collectively: the economy, unstable politics, load shedding, climate change, insecurity in terms of jobs and the future. And now, a much larger crisis: a declared state of emergency because of the Covid 19 virus; which seems to be highly infectious.

In some sense, it’s a good thing that we have a defined crisis, but if you really look at this over a period of time, I think it is fair to say that many of us have been in a form of crisis-mode for quite some time. Stress levels are high and people are battling to figure out how to respond to this.

I do believe that acknowledging the fact that there is a crisis is an important first step because it tells us that the future is unlikely to look like anything we are used to. We are all about to be pushed out of our comfort zone in some form or another.

One of the big questions now is how shall we respond? We can choose to be rigidly strong. We may prefer to pretend that nothing has happened – although attachment to a past, that may very well be over forever, will probably keep us stuck and unable to respond creatively.

Either choice does not actually give us the capacity to really cope. It would appear that real strength will come from a kind of flexibility – where we try and find the wisest path through the difficulties.

I believe that this has got to do with resilience. There are several aspects to resilience, but it is important to first understand that resilience is about the ability to bounce back.

The fact is that, sometimes, life is going to send you a curveball. In this current instance, a very large curveball that is quite scary. But, when we come at this challenge with resilience and fortitude we may increase our chances of bouncing back.

Make realistic plans

The very first aspect of resilience is the capacity to make realistic plans and carry them out. The keyword here is realistic.

The past is not going to be a pattern for the future – so merely repeating what we have been doing, maybe with great devotion and determination, in the past is not the way forward. We often resist change because it is difficult and calls for action outside our comfort zone. It can, however, be used as an opportunity to rediscover yourself and what really matters in your life.

The way forward is to really understand the current landscape and use our ingenuity and our determination to come up with original, new and fresh ideas about how to respond to this situation.

This, of course, also requires that we have a fairly positive view of ourselves. We do require some confidence in our strengths and abilities – some belief in our ability to overcome challenges, to face up to difficulties and the knowledge that we do have so many capacities, talents and abilities that we can use in whole new ways.

A crisis sometimes has a gift in that we suddenly discover an aspect of ourselves that has been asleep or was never called on before. Some of us might actually come out of this with a whole new appreciation of who we are and our strengths.

Build skills in communication and in problem-solving

Another aspect of resilience is to build skills in communication and in problem-solving. This is quite a subtle one. Skills in communication really boils down to not communicating panic, not communicating negativity and to keep communication and attitude towards the problem as constructive as possible.

We all have basically three options when we are dealing with an issue. The one option is to engage constructively. The second is to remain completely neutral and disengaged and the third is to engage destructively.  We have already seen a lot of people being tempted to act destructively, and then that is all we get: destruction.

It is in our problem-solving orientation that we need to decide: am I going to make the situation worse or am I going to make it better?

Manage strong feelings and impulses

The final aspect of resilience is the capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses. Now in a crisis, where we feel under threat, we tend to go into fight or flight: I will either turn around and fight this off aggressively or I will run for the hills.

This is a very common human and animal response, which is completely understandable, but in a time of crisis, we are called to wisdom. Now is the time when we have to set aside our wildest impulses and bring our wisest minds to bear. Crisis calls us forth to engage directly with how we will manifest our ethics and our values.

A crisis is not a time to be blindly ambitious. It is a time when we have to choose, strongly and clearly, between what is right and what is wrong; what is helpful and what is unhelpful; what is constructive and what is destructive.

This is a true test of character. Are you up for the challenge?

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