It’s a terrible feeling when a stranger does something completely wrong and it affects you. You may be feeling shame, shock, guilt, sorrow, anger, embarrassment or rage. Depending on how well your life was (or wasn’t) going last week, you may be feeling depression or even PTSD.
If you feel you are “guilty by association” ― just the fact that you were an employee at the time of the incident ― you may hear extremely negative comments and have a strong urge to defend yourself. Worse, you may internalize the company’s troubles and make them your own. You may be worried about whether or not your job will survive the crisis.
You are not the victim here! You are not powerless. In fact, there are 10 Tips You Can Use to Survive a Crisis In Your Life.
Tip #1: Allow yourself to feel this. An emotional response to any crisis is normal. How you respond is a reflection of how you respond to other parts of your life.
If you tend to be an angry person, that’s how you’ll feel now. If you tend to be shame-based, you’ll feel ashamed. That’s your pattern. Notice when you felt the same way at other times in your life and see if you can detect how you pulled yourself through before, because you certainly did.
Tip #2: Accept the help you are offered. It may be a hug, a call, a nice email from a friend, a shoulder offered to cry on. Now is not the time to be stoic. As humans, we live in community with others. Some people (ignorant ones) may be unpleasant to you, or say stupid things. Others are standing by, ready to love, support, encourage, counsel, listen to you and comfort you through this difficult time. Let them. Open yourself to receive. It is good for you, and it is good for the givers.
Tip #3: Be nice to yourself. Right now, as you’re going through this difficulty, take it easier on yourself than normal. Go to bed a little earlier. Be gentle with yourself. Indulge in something you love. Light a scented candle or take the time to set the table nicely. Take an extra long hot shower. Wear outfits that make you feel happy or confident. Spend more time with nice people.
Tip #4: Watch for fallout. When something “bad” happens, some people decide to change everything they don’t like about their lives all at once. While you’re in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, you’re not thinking so clearly. Now is not the time to make big decisions. Don’t start a strict diet and exercise routine, or decide to sell the house, to quit your job or to get a divorce. Wait for your emotions to settle down a little.
“Act in haste, and you’ll repent in leisure.”
Tip #5: Get professional help if you need it. There’s no shame in taking advantage of wise counsel, whether that’s a formal psychologist, a clergy person or a life coach. You’d be amazed to know how many successful, famous people use coaches for every aspect of their lives. Talk this through with an unrelated third party. It will help a lot.
Tip #6: Give yourself time to heal. A blow like this can knock the energy right out of you. Even while your conscious mind is helping your kid with math homework or mowing the lawn, your unconscious mind is going to be processing this for a while. The length of time will depend on how you internalize the crisis and how it affects your life. There’s no “should have shrugged it off by” date on a life crisis, and this is a big one!
Tip #7: Find a way to help someone else. One of the strangest phenomena about humans is that we work well together. Maybe it’s that old hunter-gatherer teamwork thing still echoing, but even as you are accepting help, find ways to help someone else. Maybe it is encouraging a fellow employee instead of continuing to talk about how bad things are; maybe it is doing a favor for a friend; maybe it is formally volunteering to help the homeless or to become a Big Brother or to just independently cleaning up trash in an empty lot near your house. When we help others, it releases endorphins ― the “feel good” chemicals we all love.
Tip #8: Beware of addictions. Whether it is smoking, pain killers, drugs, drinking, or anything else - even OCD-related behaviors - emotional stressors tend to cause us to seek those endorphins “the easy way”. Beware, because you could create (increased) dependence on such things. Better to take some time to go through this list and do what you can, and in between, spend 2-5 minutes a day sitting in a quiet place and just taking some deep breaths, thinking about only your breath as it comes in and goes out of your lungs. (This is also a lot cheaper than indulging most addictions!)
Tip #9: Learn from this experience. Even if you had nothing directly to do with what happened or why, repeatedly ask yourself, “What can I learn from this experience?” Listen for the answers. They’ll come softly. If you learn something, then the experience wasn’t in vain. It wasn’t a 100% waste of time, no matter how discouraging or painful it is to live through it. You may even decide to keep a journal and record in it the answers your heart comes up with when you ask yourself what the lesson is here.
Tip #10: Visualize your victory. Start thinking about how you want the future to go, and what you’d have to do to make that future a reality. Taking one simple step west will eventually get you to the Pacific Ocean. (In the USA, that is.) Spend some focused time pondering what you’d like as your ideal future.
Maybe, to help yourself picture it, cut some pictures out of a magazine or print them off the internet. What do you want your life to be like? What kind of work do you want to do? What kind of lifestyle do you truly want to live? What kind of people do you want to live with, work with, be friends with? And most importantly, what kind of person do you need to become to create that wonderful future for yourself? What would have to happen? What can you make happen, and what can you take steps toward.
These 10 steps will move anyone through any kind of crisis, but are sent with special love to all United Airlines employees right now, as you collectively suffer the mistakes of a few individuals.
We all have the power to overcome the crises in our lives, and we all are faced with crises multiple times. It isn’t about what happens to you, it’s what you do next that counts.
Get the free ebook “How to Stop Hurting and Start Healing” here: http://www.WendyKeller.com