Since I posted this article, Irma has passed without harming us. While I’m grateful that we weren’t badly affected, I continue to pray for the well-being of those still caught in any crisis, natural, personal, or otherwise.
A crisis is a turning point. It threatens to take something vital from us, whether it’s our loved ones, job, home, health, peace of mind, etc. We understand that our lives will never be the same, and this is an admittedly frightening thought. But a crisis also opens the door to necessary change and new beginnings. Regardless of what’s at stake, we must remember this: suffering is temporary, endurance is permanent. Even the sun seems to shine brighter after a storm.
As divine beings, we come equipped with an incredible feature known as resilience. Quitting is easy. “Bearing our burdens” is challenging but most rewarding. In tough times, we fluctuate between hanging in there and wanting to give up. We know that better things await, but how do we draw enough strength to weather the storm? The wisdom of hardship is endurance, and the golden ticket to perseverance isn’t evading our pain—it’s feeling our way through it just as we feel any other emotion.
We are given challenges not to burden us, but to build up our strength. Like everything else, problems also come with expiration dates. Whatever your crisis, take solace in knowing that there are always solutions:
Always be prepared. To survive a storm, you must be prepared for a storm. Being caught off guard can easily perpetuate the duration and intensity of a crisis. No one wants to live his life planning a funeral or building a permanent dam around his home, but the unfortunate things you see on the news can happen to anyone, including me and you. Do the members of your family have wills, regardless of their ages? Do you know what you would do if you lost your job or became sick tomorrow? Do you have everything you need in your home in case of an emergency? For every plan A, also have plans B and C. Forming several solid and realistic strategies ahead of time can spare you much last-minute scurrying.
Make peace immediately. Drop the should’ves, could’ves, and would’ves. This is not the time to focus on what you did right or what mistakes you made. The sooner you can wholeheartedly accept the reality of what’s happening—however harsh that reality may be—the sooner you can advance towards a solution. Detach yourself from how things should’ve been, and start to project how things will be from now on.
Don’t act on desperation. Acting on desperation will lead you to more desperation. During a crisis, we become obsessed with ending our suffering. We don’t think about the greater plan, the reason behind it all, or the lessons we’re meant to learn. We fall so deeply into a pit of our own pain that we may even multiply it. By no means do you want to prolong your crisis. The decisions you make now will influence how long this bad moment lasts. For this reason, it’s important that you don’t let extreme emotions cause impulsive actions. If possible, wait until your emotions subside, then tap into your rational mind. Weigh your choices carefully so as to make the best one.
Regain control. One of the first actions to take in a crisis is to regain control of the situation. A sudden difficulty is a mental test: you can either sink or swim, flee or fight, break down or reaffirm your personal power. Understand that no matter how bad things get, you still hold power over the outcome by the way you choose to respond. If you regain control, you can shift the course of events.
Don’t be influenced. You’re especially vulnerable in an emergency and people will use this to their advantage: a lawyer may push you to sue when you’re under pressure or a doctor may urge you to undergo an operation when you’re in pain. Don’t dismiss the guidance of those who might know better, but trust your inner voice first. Your intuition may be impeded by panic right now, but if you take a few minutes to remove yourself from your own situation, the answer will arise. Take a few calming breaths and close your eyes. Center yourself and clear your mind of the chaos. Dig deeply: What will help to ground me again right now? What advice would I give to someone else going through this same scenario? Beneath your fear lies everything you need to know.
Start rebuilding. Start rebuilding from the moment the crisis hits. Don’t wait until the issue goes away or dwell on the enormity of what happened, or you risk becoming stuck in the circumstances. Pick up the pieces as they’re falling. Taking constant, constructive steps endows you with the strength and knowledge to forge ahead.
Turn to other joys. There are many joys in your life. If one has been taken away, look to other sources of fulfillment: your children, good health, career, community, a new hobby—anything that makes you smile! Life can be demoralizing. That’s a fact. But it’s also a fact that you can create your own reasons to be happy, and this outweighs any misfortune. Be thankful for every lesson that propels you forward, good or bad.
Our inner resources can usher us through even the worst storms of life. The next time you’re caught in a crisis, refer to these steps to guide you out of trouble and towards safety, stability, and joy.
To overcoming anything,
Dr. Carmen Harra
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