When in crisis

We’ve all been there. That moment when something happens and your world is turned upside down. A loss, a pending divorce, a(nother) family feud, a diagnosis, a meeting with your child’s teacher… the list is endless. I guess that’s because crisis is inevitable. First comes the shock. This can’t be happening to me. This is not real. And after a while, it hits you. And it usually hits hard!

That’s usually the point at which people decide it’s time to see a therapist. They’re in crisis and have reached the point of utter desperation. Silently, I smile to myself. Because the most significant changes we go through in life are more-often-than-not preempted by crisis.

Yes, being in crisis is terrifying, and we make our most desperate attempts to escape its clutches. It takes an immense amount of courage and strength to endure it and to find your way through it. The fear of the unknown brings on levels of anxiety that are followed by sleepless nights and panic attacks. But crisis also presents an opportunity. An opportunity for change. An opportunity for growth. An opportunity for us to take a step back and reflect on who we have become; on how we have arrived at this point in our lives at this time, and on where we would like to go.

When we are not in crisis, we usually cruise through our day-to-day on autopilot. Not giving much thought to our actions, our thoughts or our words. It’s only when we go into crisis that we are forced out of our comfort zones, and in many ways this forces us to find a new way of doing, and a new way of being. And there is something powerful that happens when you get out of your comfort zone and decide to change things. Because that’s what change boils down to - a choice. We are all capable of it, but if we’re coasting in our comfort zones what good reason is there to change? But crisis forces you to stop and think about these things. To reconsider the things that really matter in life. It offers you the opportunity to gain a new perspective in life that can potentially be life changing. It lures you to take responsibility for the things you can change, and let go of the things you can’t. If you allow it, crisis can change your attitude, change your perspective, and change the way you see yourself. Almost always, I watch people in crisis find the resources and the inner strength they need to create a pathway out of crisis. Yes it is painful. Yes it takes time. And yes it can feel as if you’ve lost all control and might never find the light at the end of the tunnel. But almost always, I watch people in crisis discover an immense inner strength that propels them to greater heights. And as human beings we have an innate desire to adjust to the changes life throws at us.

So the next time you find yourself in crisis:

  • Anticipate change.
  • Look for the opportunity for growth.
  • Take time to reflect.
  • Take responsibility for what you can control, and let go of what you can’t.

Be it the loss of a loved one, being bullied at school, or becoming a single parent, if you give yourself to the process of change, and accept that crisis is part of the process, the journey may become a little more tolerable.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Guildford GU1 & London SW19
Written by Dianne Everitt
Guildford GU1 & London SW19

Dianne Everitt is an HCPC registered clinical psychologist operating from Wokingham and online. She has a particular interest in working with adults and teenagers. She believes in the connectedness between client and therapist as being the foundation upon which change can be built. She qualified Cum Laude at the University of South Africa in 2011.

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