It’s been a tough couple of weeks for yours truly. I’ve faced a 3-D crisis: Death, Disease and Disappointment. A longtime friend died; a woman dear to me is ill; one of my readers has been given a scary diagnosis; and, someone didn’t do what he said he had done. All in all, a challenging time.
How do we get through crisis? How do we function when times are tough? How can we make the best of a bad situation?
Here are some tactics you can use when you face tough times:
First, don’t hurry through difficulties. I know, I know. Sounds counter-intuitive, huh? But finding a solution to a set of difficult problems may take time — and if you rush, you can find yourself applying the wrong solutions, which can completely compound the problem.
Second, accept the gifts difficulty has to offer. Another counter-intuitive thought? Not really. It’s only by fully experiencing the lows that we can fully experience the highs. I believe it’s impossible to live in bliss. Bliss is something that can be touched and savored in the moment — but it’s incredibly hard to sustain. Fully feeling sadness, hurt, vulnerability, disappointment and fear allows us to understand and learn. And to remember we’re only human.
Third, make sure you are surrounded by a team of people ready to help and support you. In my case, my team “floats” depending on what I need. Sometimes my team includes a lawyer (or two), an accountant, a teacher, a consultant or another coach. Sometimes my team consists of three wise women and two bottles of wine. The latter is infinitely more fun than the former, with no offense meant to lawyers and accountants who can be fun in their own special ways. In my “Thinking About Starting Your Own Business” and “Writing Your Own Personal Strategic Plan” workshops, I ask participants to inventory the folks they’ll need on their team to meet their objectives. It’s a good idea to identify your “crisis team” when times are good — so when times get tough, you know who to call. And, if you don’t know who to call, rely on friends, family and colleagues to give you good referrals.
Fourth, if your crisis takes you by complete surprise and you have that deer-in-the-headlights feeling — do this: think of someone you know who’s experienced your crisis before and pretend you’re her. “Carol would ask these questions,” you can tell yourself. Then proceed to ask all of Carol’s questions, which may prompt a few of your own. Our friends the mental health professionals call this “modeling” but you can also call it “surviving” — just until you have the information and strength to get going again.
Finally, remind yourself that you are a resilient person. You haven’t gotten this far without weathering a few storms, right? Reflect on other tough times you have faced– you made it through, didn’t you? You learned something. You made deeper connections with others. You grew stronger.
When times are tough, we are being challenged to our very core to dig deep and be the best people we can be in that moment. The good news is that tough times don’t last forever. And when they pass, our hearts are open to grateful living — and anticipation of the inevitable good times to come.