Creating Calm in the Crisis
By: Tess Worrell
“How do I make the changes needed to get through this? I can’t even imagine what life will be like—how do I know whether to ask for the house or the savings account? How do I know whether to go back to school or get a job right away? How can I decide? What will be right?” Jeff’s decision to begin life with someone else left Maria feeling rejected, powerless, and overwhelmed. Like so many facing the prospect of divorce, she didn’t know where to turn or how to make decisions. Crisis had come. What now?
For people facing crisis—whether medical, financial, or relational—the best help comes from realizing that crises come in stages. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
The beginning startles, confronts, and throws people off balance. Life changes dramatically in the blink of an eye. What seemed sure and foundational disappears. People grasp for something–anything–to stop the free-fall.
At some point, the fall stops as people begin reacting to the crisis and making decisions. This middle stage can be the most difficult. People fear the decisions they are making—unsure whether they will work. They also fear others imposing choices for them that might make life even worse. Many feel they will always be groping blindly for answers that don’t come or living in a limbo that won’t change. They feel forced into changes they don’t want and don’t know how to live. The tunnel is long with no light in sight.
But, then there comes an end. Every crisis has an end. The tunnel opens to light. One way or another this crisis passes and a new phase of life begins. Knowing this offers hope to people at the beginning or middle stages of crisis. Knowing an end will come—people begin to ask, “When this is over, what do I want?”
Creating a vision for life post-crisis brings hope. This vision frames discussions and guides decisions. At The Resolution Center a key component of the Conciliation process is to meet people early in the crisis and help them understand this notion of stages of crisis. We then spend significant time with people helping them begin to frame their vision for life after the crisis ends. People come to understand that the crisis may touch all aspects of their life, but it cannot negate all aspects. It may alter what they can control, but it cannot remove all control. It can change the course of life—but it can also offer opportunity to create a life more closely reflecting what they truly desire.
This crisis will end. What do you want life to be like when it does? Creating this vision brings calm to the crisis.