There are only 3 coping styles when in a crisis.

word crisisA crisis can present itself two ways: either an unexpected and sudden event that catches you unawares or it is something you see building up and you are consciously dreading the outcome.

I’m currently in the second category. All the signs point to the prophetic poop hitting the fan in my personal life while I am trying to get away for a much planned business trip and managing a never ending to-do list for work.

There are only 3 things you can do if you are in a crisis:

  1. Change something to improve the situation. This is the most time consuming and active style. For this one, it is important to see where all the resources and help are and to communicate with others who may have information. Taking the time to write down your options of things to do and bouncing ideas off of others to brainstorm solutions can also be helpful. I am in this mode right now. I’m trying to head off a crisis at the pass because I still feel that I have “some” control right now. People who are “over-responsible” can develop anxiety, or create a new crisis, so be careful not to get stuck in this style when things are happening
  2. Accept the situation and adapt. In life, we often need to re-evaluate what our “new normal” has become and simply learn to live with it. This is not so much giving up but rather adjusting our expectations and perspective or just going with the flow. This requires flexibility and maturity. A conscious act of “letting go and accepting” can be difficult (even painful) for some people and they stay in the first style too long, to the detriment of their health and well-being. Know when to change styles.
  3. Run away. Boundaries are important and sometimes, we need to distance ourselves from the stress and the crisis to catch our breath. For some people, sticking their heads in the sand and not getting involved is the way they deal with everything they find uncomfortable. They assume someone else will “deal with this”. Conversely, the over-responsible person needs to know that they may have to let go and stop trying to control things. When they do that, they allow other people to get involved which can dramatically improve the outcome.

 “There cannot be a crisis next week, my schedule is already full.” Henry KissingerTime csqueeze

At the end of this week, no matter how much of the 2 first styles I will have adopted, I will be going away on that business trip. There’s no predicting the direction or intensity this family crisis will go or become. I can only hope that this will just extinguish itself on its own. If history is an indication, that is not likely and I will be testing out the coping styles a lot in the next period of time.

If you are experiencing a crisis, don’t carry the world on your shoulders alone. It’s important to be responsible without being over-responsible. Reach out and challenge your belief that you have to fix this.

A crisis is meant to be short term. Break that feeling and do something normal.

Go on that business trip, take that nap, get your hair done or have that coffee with a good friend. Taking care of yourself and your business is the moral and right thing to do.

“I didn’t cause this, I can’t cure it, I can’t control it.” Twelve Step groups saying

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