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Yes! You Can Weather That Storm?Ten Steps To Help You Do Just That
By Claire Arene, MSW, LCSW

The most important aspect of effectively managing a crisis is keeping hope alive even when it appears to be lost. Often, crisis becomes tragic or needlessly agonizing because those involved completely give up hope that change can occur or better times are within sight. Although keeping hope alive in a crisis might appear to be a gift that only a few people have, the truth is that anyone can keep hope alive in a crisis situation simply by acknowledging those circumstances over which they have no control, and also accepting the responsibility to respond and act appropriately to aspects of the situation over which they do have some control.

Take for example the following circumstances:

  • Your employment is suddenly terminated and you have very little saved up for emergencies!
  • You are suddenly served notice that your spouse has filed for a divorce. You were completely unprepared!
  • You find out that your beloved teenager is doing drugs!
  • You suddenly find out that you have a life threatening illness and you have no insurance!
  • You suddenly lose everything you own to nature!
Any of these circumstances could easily mark the beginning of months of anxiety, low self esteem, depression, and other negative emotions if not managed properly.

This article discusses ten coping techniques that comprise mental attitudes, thought patterns, and actions that are more likely to steer you down the path of successful rebuilding.

Step 1a-- Assess the Magnitude of the Crisis
The main objective in doing this is to acknowledge the aspects of the situation over which you have no control, and ascertain those over which you do have some control.

Step 1b--Use Whatever Control You Can and Do Have
For example, it may be over, but moving out at 2 a.m. in the morning with no plans for where you will be staying may likely only serve to increase the emotional devastation you are experiencing. If it is feasible, it might be more stabilizing to insist on making some plans first, and moving as soon as you conveniently can.

Asserting the control that you do have, prevents further ego damage; as you get more acquainted with your new circumstance, you can take some pride in the influence you exerted over the situation this in turn should increase your self confidence.

In other situations using the control you have may simply involve prioritizing actions and responses that need to take place right away, as opposed to those that can be put off. In doing this, you divest the situation of any power to create a feeling of hopelessness. In times of crisis, it is the feeling of hopelessness and lack of control that exacerbates anxiety and also results in other negative emotional states.

Step 2--Compartmentalize
Compartmentalizing involves separating your present crisis from other areas of your life that are not, and do not necessarily need to be affected by what you are experiencing. It is a useful skill when dealing with situations that provoke anxiety and for which you may not have ready answers or solutions. Compartmentalizing may require simply adjusting your mental approach to the crisis you are facing, or it may also involve concrete actions, for example, refraining from discussing the predicament at work inside your home environment, but rather setting out time during an evening stroll with your spouse to talk about it.

Step 3--Seek Out Information
Inform yourself about resources, programs and agencies that are available to assist you in ameliorating the impact of the crisis. Knowledge is power; knowledge will significantly reduce your sense of hopelessness and loss of control. In addition, the process of seeking out information about your circumstances will very often help to restore a sense of calm and confidence in your ability to overcome whatever adversity you are facing. It might be a good idea to contact organizations that assist with welfare and aid for people experiencing adversity. If you are already in therapy, a therapist who is using a systems approach should be able to assist you in locating needed resources.

Step 4--Avoid Isolation
Someone else, somewhere; hopefully close enough to you, has had a similar experience. It is especially reinforcing if this person is doing better now, this way you have proof that you will get through your present circumstances too. Spend more time with positive friends and family; for days when you may feel so down in the dumps that you are unlikely to answer the phone or leave your house, ask a friend or family member to check on you. This might also be a good time to draw some strength and insight from your source of spiritual inspiration?go to church again, meditate...etc.

Step 5--Set Goals
As part of your commitment to staying in control and overcoming that feeling of hopelessness, establish some kind of timeline, goals, and structure for returning to normal. A word of caution here though; although you should try as much as you can to attain the goals that you set, do not be too hard on yourself if you are sometimes behind schedule. The important thing is that by setting goals and establishing a structure, you are committing yourself to surmounting the situation. This commitment in itself will help restore hope, significantly alleviate feelings of anxiety, and actually keep you charged up with positive energy.

Step 6--Accept That You Can Only Control Your Response, Not the Circumstance
A word about control: In charting your return to normal, the only aspect of rebuilding your life that you can exert control over is the responses you make to the events that have occurred, and your commitment to your future. It is healthy to acknowledge that you are not in control of the circumstances either past, present, or future. Embracing your responsibility for how you respond is actually the most empowering step in the recovery process. It is the mechanism by which change is created. Whenever you are weighed down or overcome by thoughts and memories of the past, remind yourself that you are only accountable for your responses and not the circumstance regardless of how it occurred.

Step 7--Treat Yourself
As you work through the discomfort you feel, take good care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat well, do the little things that help you relax, take your vitamins, reward yourself for the times when you do accomplish your recovery goals or keep to your schedule. You need to stay emotionally healthy and taking good care of your physical health is a huge part of ensuring that you are helping yourself do just that.

Step 8--Reach Out to Others
This might come as a surprise, but reaching out to others will actually help you recover and rebuild faster. Volunteering, sharing your experience, mentoring someone who is going through the same situation, giving to a charitable cause that helps people who are experiencing a similar situation. These are all ways that you can rebuild your life, whilst adding meaning to your existence.

Step 9--Do Not Allow Your Crisis to Multiply
The last thing you want is added stress, therefore it is a good idea to let those who hold you accountable know that you are going through troubled times. There might be times when despite your best efforts you are overwhelmed by your circumstances, the last thing you want is for people to wonder why you are acting strange or not performing up to par. Of course, use discretion in selecting whom you share your bad news with. There are those who will only make you feel worse!

Step10--It Is Not a Bad Idea to Seek Short-Term Therapy
Although some people cringe at the idea of seeing a therapist, those who do not are actually making a statement about their commitment to returning to normal. Not to say that everyone in crisis needs therapy, however, everyone in crisis should be open to seeking professional help if it becomes necessary. Also, your therapist can provide the structure and feedback you need to stay on top of your efforts to rebuild. Be open to recognizing when you are not doing well despite your best efforts; be open to caring enough about your future to ask for help when you see those signs that you need help rebuilding.

Perhaps you are already affected by a crisis situation, I encourage you to carefully and consistently apply these steps you might be surprised by how much better you feel.


Dr. Meg, Global Moderator, Practitioner
Re: You Can Weather That Storm?Ten Steps To Help You Do Just That

Thanks for sharing that, Janet :)


Re: You Can Weather That Storm?Ten Steps To Help You Do Just That

Knowledge is power; knowledge will significantly reduce your sense of hopelessness and loss of control.

I love this one *grins*.
Very very agree although all part of the article is agree-able.
Re: You Can Weather That Storm?Ten Steps To Help You Do Just That

thanks for this information step 6 was the most helpful to me as i understand now i can't control what went on in the past but i can control how i respond to thes memories and i won't let them take over me because i am not that person anymore
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