Crisis is inevitable. This point is echoed from across history as the central event in nearly every story. No matter how intensely we try and control our world, something can be counted on to happen. The gods become angered, the tsunami comes in, the long dormant volcano erupts. All hell breaks loose and there's not a damned thing we can do about it.
Another version is when the hero or heroine of a story sets foot upon a path to achieve something out of the ordinary. Extending themselves out into the big bad world, they soon meet with forces that resist them. The crisis comes when they can no longer go back or go forward; they MUST face down the dragon. In fact, it could be said the every story ever told was the story of a dragon and the hero who defeated him.
What happens in daily life when we have to face the angry gods, the tsunamis, or the dragons? What happens when we have to face the abyss of the uncertain future? For many of us, the answer is to crumble. To succumb. To submit to the crisis because it's all too confusing.
I've done this before. I absolutely admit it. Through one cause or another, I've seen some aspect of my life slip into a "death ground" and panicked. One thing I can say, unequivocally, is that since I'm still writing this, I must have survived. With at least one finger intact, I made it through.
While I'm not perfect at the art of staring into the abyss by a long stretch, I seem to be asked quite often about my ability to not lose my mind when it comes down to the wire. I'm no guru and I'm no master, but my thoughts might be of some use to you if you are willing to try them out.
The Zen Of The Abyss
Ivy: "How is it you are brave, when all the rest of us shake in our boots?"
Lucius: "I do not worry about what will happen, only what needs to be done."
- The Village (2004)
Have you ever heard the phrase "Be present"? Well, it applies to crises, as well. Actually, it matters MUCH more when the lava is rolling in than it does when it's easy. It gives you clarity. Perspective. It allows you to see the situation as it really is and to take the steps that can minimize that damage or, sometimes, reverse or slip it into a victory.
Here's how I've learned to go about it. Oddly, it's sort of pirate themed. So, let's call it
"The Randomly Titled Pirate Method For Cutting Ye Problems Down To Size".
(R) is for "Remember" - Believe it or not, one of the hardest things about staying on top of a crisis is remembering to step out of the spiral of emotions and see it for what it is. Emotions, while very useful in life, can cloud your mind. They do nothing for you in these situations.
I have seen people get upset over something minor that is completely out of control and react by anger. They stomp around, slam doors and talk loudly. The interesting thing about this process is that it accomplishes nothing. They just stomp around for awhile, piss everyone around them off, and then leave the room. Eventually, the situation gets handled. Know anybody like that? Right. They need to REMEMBER to stop and take a breath. It would save them a lot of energy and would get them moving to actually process the problem sooner.
(R) is also for "Realize" Realize that when you experience certain emotions (rising anxiety, panic, victimhood, helplessness,) that it is not part of who you are. It is literally a program that your brain is running to help process the situation. This response is your choice. It has not been "given" to you. It is no one else's fault. This is your mind (whether conscious or subconscious) running a "software program" that puts you into a certain state.
Do you notice how the way you use your body actually changes when you are upset? I, for instance, generally slump over and stare at the ground. My brow becomes furrowed. I crumple myself up to appear almost smaller. And, of course, I never smile. These physical acts have exactly the effect I want them to.
I feel like a powerless, depressed, loser.
However, if I force my posture back, if I correct my shoulders and pull my head up and back a bit, if I smile, and if I purposefully repeat high self esteem self talk in my head, my whole world starts to change. I become more in power. I become more focused. I become more dominant in the situation and am able to take the right action from there.
If there is any idea I can stress to you it's this: Watch your physical patterns and take control of them! This is a HUGE step in getting a handle on any crisis that might have wormed it's way into your world.
(R) is, surprisingly, also for "Research"
Search you mind, your heart. Search your spirit. If you need other information, then look it up or ask someone who knows what they are talking about. But only after checking "internally" first. It becomes far too easy to get caught in the loop of research and planning. This is a trap.
Stay light, stay lean, and develop a plan.
In fact, if you feel particularly worried about a certain problem, create two or three plans. Why not? After developing your first solution, take it away. Ask yourself "If I couldn't do it this way, how would I do it then?"
(R) is for "React"
Here, we take action. We've slowed down, taken control of our emotions, figured out what we are going to do.
What else is left? The Reaction. Do it. Do it without hesitation. I would write more, but screw it. ACT. That's all there is to it.
You know what to do.
(R) is for "Reflect"
This is the time to ask the valuable questions. "How did I end up here?", "How did this happen?", "What could I have done differently?" are all incredibly useful to your personal growth. Take stock and really spend the time to consciously reflect on the situation. If there is anything you can do right at this moment to keep the problem from coming back, do it now, while you have the emotional intensity.
(R) is, lastly, for "Rinse and Repeat"
I don't know about you, but I'm a genius and creating more problems in my life. Somehow, I manage to make a near Hail Mary pass of insanity out of actually is a very small issue ignored until it becomes gigantic. One of the only thing that sustains me, that makes me able to remotely function as a human being, is the process that I have mentioned above.
I find myself doing it over and over and over again in my life. While I obviously wish you a life without strife and trouble, I more realistically hope that you find some of these ideas helpful and as something to fall back on when you need to process.