Jun 02 2011

Surviving Major Life Crisis

Surviving Major Life Crisis –  

10 insights to guide you through stressful events with greater strength

 

by: Dwight Bain, Crisis Counselor

 

Life is harder than ever, yet why do some people face major life transitions like a traumatic event, major financial stress, death, divorce, health problems, job loss, or business problems with a hopeful attitude of rebuilding and recovery while others just want to hide in fear?

 

Everyone will face times of major life crisis, but not everyone will know how to respond to move beyond the challenge today to build confidence tomorrow. Here are ten things about crisis that will help guide you through the process of managing stressful situations to come out stronger on the other side.

 

1) Crisis events are more common than you think

 

Every time you watch the evening news you are hearing about someone in crisis, but it doesn't really affect you as much because you probably don't know them. Accidents, fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, terrorist attacks, bank robberies, child abuse, sex scandals, corporate fraud, community shooting, crime, corporate downsizing and on and on the list goes. It's like the only thing you ever hear about on the news is the bad news!

 

Thankfully, these terrible events don't happen to all of us at the same time, which is why some people can hear about it and not really be affected. Their life is insulated from crisis at that moment, so they don't really think about it much, however, stressful events happen all the time and at some point will affect you as well. If your life is going well, be grateful as you count your blessings. If it's falling apart, know that it's part of life and won't last forever, so hang on as you keep reading about more ways to deal with life crisis.

 

2) Crisis affects people of all ages and stages of life

 

There is an old saying that cancer doesn't care where you live, which is another way of saying that disease affects the rich and poor, young and old. Crisis is like that too because it's a common part of every stage of life, but impacts us differently at each stage. Not having a date for the prom can feel like a crisis to a high school student, while being fired from a job may seem like the end of the world to a man in the middle years of life.

 

The level of stress and trauma is based on a lot of factors, including age, gender, personality, educational level, family connection, network of friends, emotional health, character, physical energy and spiritual maturity. The more life experiences you have gone through, the more likely you will view a major event with a hopeful perspective about the outcome instead of gloom and doom. Life is about growing and crisis events can often force us to change faster than we wanted to, yet with a positive end result if we learn to see it as a predictable part of the life-cycle. This is the process of moving from a 'Why me?' mindset to growing beyond a simplistic view of the world as you want it to be as you gain a greater awareness to see more of the real world with the real difficulties that people are forced to deal with every day. Surviving a crisis leads to greater strength.

 

3) There are no easy answers for traumatic events

 

"I know how you feel," is one of the worst things that you could ever say to another human being. That is unless you really have walked in their shoes through the same type of life crisis. Everyone who hears about the challenge that you are facing will want to make it better in one way or another, but often there are no quick solutions or instant pop-psychology advice available. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and there just isn't anything to say to make it better, so don't even try to help with words.

 

Rather, help with your presence, or just help with a meal, or arrange for childcare while an exhausted Mom gets a night off, or line up some gift certificates to help out, or pitch in to help pay for a needed car repair, or just remember to pray for someone you know in crisis. While you may not have any real answers, you may have some encouraging words of hope to someone feeling very scared and alone. Better to say, “hang in there and I'm here to help if I can," than to retreat in silence and do nothing because you aren't sure of what to say. Take action to do something positive to get through the day right now instead of spending massive amounts of time and energy trying to figure out the answer to some of the questions that likely could never be answered anyway. Knowing that you have closed the door to all of the 'what ifs' will allow your mind to open up other doors of options and possibilities, even in the most challenging of situations.

 

4) Crisis events reveal your biggest fears and deepest beliefs

 

Thousands of years ago the Psalmist wrote, "God is a very present help in times of trouble," and that principle is more relevant today than ever. Critical incidents will instantly reveal more about you than you ever thought possible. What you believe about life, money, love, family, honesty, courage, hope, faith and a whole lot more will come out when everything that you thought that you believed in is suddenly shaken. Know that a crisis may take you straight to the very thing that you fear the most, which will be hard, but ultimately will develop greater strength because you don't have any choice but to face it and get through it the best way you can. None of this is easy, but the character and maturity you develop while struggling to just get through the day will last for years and make you a stronger person.

 

It is extremely helpful to journal out those fears and spend some time writing down what you believe during times like this because the insights you generate about your own identity can help you get through future events faster and stronger than you ever imagined. This is the process of removing fear to replace it with a deeper faith. And as you process these emotions remember to share your insights with others so they can benefit from your new insights and strength.

 

5) Some very good people may give you some very bad advice

 

The Biblical story of Job tells of a man who loses everything. Kids, money, power, career, big house, company, employees, marital connection to his wife and every single material possession. His health was destroyed and as he scraped his skin to lance the boils the only thing he could hear was the bad advice and judgmental questioning of his three friends. While it is a good thing that they came to be with him during his time of crisis, their efforts at 'helping' seemed to turn toward putting more pressure on Job than actually making his life any more bearable. When helping people through a time of crisis I often remind them of the first rule in a crisis, which is 'don't make a bad situation worse.'

 

No matter what you are facing today, keep in mind that while someone has it worse than you, there are a truck load of people who don't even have a clue! If someone gives you bad advice because they have been blessed to not have experienced the level of pain and suffering that you have, cut them some slack because of their naive view of life, or try to avoid them. In a crisis you don't have time or energy to try to change someone who doesn't understand painful trauma, so sometimes it really would be preferable to just try to avoid that person. Better to seek out others who have walked on the same road of grief that you are on so that you can learn from their insights instead of feeling misunderstood by the lectures of those who haven't been tested in those areas of character development. At some point there is a time to move on to learn the lesson that Job did so long ago; God is always faithful, even when your closest friends let you down.

 

6) Major world events like natural disasters or terrorism can magnify the stress and pressure you are already facing

 

Whatever you are going through is intensified by other factors, like terrorism or a community wide disaster. If your marriage is breaking up while you are trying to deal with finding ice or gasoline to run a generator after a major storm it will feel overwhelming. We can only deal with a certain amount of stress and pressure from crisis events, no matter which direction they are coming from. If you are totally focused on tuning in to see if the London terrorists are being brought to justice while trying to care for your aged parents who are facing huge financial challenges, you will likely run out of emotional energy to cope. Better to pray for those people in London and then turn all of your energy toward dealing with what's on your plate right here and right now.

 

Unless you have to watch the video footage from other world events for your job, turn the TV off to turn toward reducing the amount of painful issues you are facing today. You will make it through seasons of crisis a lot better if you remove any outside source that you don't have to deal with today. This includes things like being overwhelmed by future events like funding your three year old daughters college tuition or if you will keep your job until the next Presidential election. You must manage your emotional energy wisely today by not worrying about things too far down the road during a time of crisis. Stabilize the crisis today so that you can see clearly to deal with the future events when you are at a stronger and more focused place.

 

7) Strength, confidence and character come on the other side of life crisis

 

Someone once said that hard times will make you bitter or they will make you better and that is especially true during seasons of trials and discouragement. We know that the difficult challenges can make us prone to anxiety, depression, fears, doubts, resentfulness, hatefulness and bitterness. What we fail to think about is that those very same crisis events can push us to stretch and grow into a more disciplined and focused human being. Here's an insight though, it's either one or the other. It's been my experience that people either allow the circumstances of life to shape them into stronger people, or they spend their life whining about how unfair life is to them. Hey, a lot of the good things in life are dramatically affected by how you look at it. Some people view being fired from a job that they really didn't like as a blessing, while others may think that it spells out financial ruin and bankruptcy.

 

Learn to see crisis events for what they are-a terribly sad or traumatic event – not a terribly sad life. Crisis events are not usually the end of your life however they may lead to the beginning of a major change in the meaning of your life; which can eventually impact life for good. It's sort of like sweating in the gym while exercising your body to achieve a healthier result. The painful process of pushing your body with weights and aerobic gradually activity brings a better result. St. James said it this way, "The testing of your faith builds patience and maturity." To have deep inner faith and personal power you have to press on through the trials of life, instead of just avoiding them or asking others to sort it all out for you. No one can take action to get confidence for you, but you! Get up as you can and move forward so that you can make positive growth in the days ahead.

 

8) The greater the crisis, the greater you need others to get through it

 

You can get through a bad hair day alone, but you can't get through a loved one's cancer treatments without major levels of support. We need others to make it through life and that is particularly true during crisis events. The bigger the challenge you are facing, the more supports, coping skills and healthy behaviors are required to move through it. Obviously this issue takes every positive resource you can find, while avoiding the negatives.

 

Begin to seek out the counselors, pastors, social workers, psychologists, physicians, nurses, attorneys, law enforcement, chiropractors or support groups that will be needed to challenge the process and bring about change. In many regions of the country there are hotline telephone numbers linked to community resource agencies that offer all kinds of help and guidance, much of which is free. (In Florida where I live it's accessed by dialing '211' from any telephone, which links to a live operator who has a listing of thousands of people and places to address every issue from Adoption to Alzheimer's. Another great resource on managing crisis events is through the writings of my friend and fellow crisis counselor, June Hunt at www.HopefortheHeart.com Do an Internet search to find the community resources closest to you. There is usually crisis help available – but you have to do some searching. Don’t wait – in a crisis you need help and it’s okay to ask others for assistance). You and I need others and would likely go out of our way to help others if the roles were reversed, so don't be afraid to ask for help if you find yourself in the position to need it. Letting other people help you can unlock a whole new world of service and insight into how others are dealing and coping to grow to a stronger place on the other side of crisis.

 

9) Stressful or traumatic events don't go on forever

 

Someone once said that the often quoted phrase, 'things come to pass' would be better stated as, 'things come to pass, but they don't come to stay.' Keeping your focus on getting through the day and moving past the past to move toward a better place ahead is essential if you want to get to a better place after a life crisis. There are seasons in life and they are constantly changing, even when we don't realize it. Consider an event like a college student moving out of their parent’s home to their first apartment. If that young person is prepared for the road ahead, this will be one of their most exciting and fulfilling times. If they aren't, then they may find every excuse to avoid dealing the logical progression of reality that will force them to grow up anyway, or over-invest in pushing their Mom to build the nest bigger to keep them from feeling the stress of changing roles, (letting go of their mommy to gain her back as a mentor).

 

Change is hard on everyone, but change is the most common part of life, so when you hear someone tell you that the present trends will continue and that the sky is actually going to fall one day just ignore them. Nothing lasts forever, including times of life crisis. If you are in a time of trauma, testing or trial, know that it won't go on forever, nor will the calmness of those who haven't had a real crisis event in their entire life. To that person I say 'buckle up' because it may be that God will one day take them to some steep places to show that what they said they believed is really true. Oh yes and to show a better way to view maintaining balance in life when you don't have to stay in control of everything that you really couldn't control anyway.

 

10) Crisis events prove true the promises of God

 

For over 25 years I've been honored to work as a counselor with wonderful people who were experiencing the hardest part of their life because of major crisis or painful trauma. The bad news is that they had been knocked down and thrown off course from the life they wanted by various critical incidents or crisis events. Someone told me once that 'there is no testimony with out a test' and I believe that is true because things happen for a reason. Even if you can’t make sense of why the crisis happened, (and often you can’t), you can make the choice to move forward in spite of the crisis. However, the good news is they were able to get through it and became stronger in the process of moving through the painful crisis, instead of running away from it. I've seen it thousands of times, regular people facing horrible circumstances became more balanced and focused in every area of life because of it.

 

The crisis was hard, but in the process of just getting through the day they discovered more about what they believed and how much better life could be with their new strength than they ever could have imagined. Life takes on a new meaning when what you believe has gone through the fire, because something in the fire burns away the impurities and the wastefulness to plainly reveal what matters most. I've watched people who didn't claim any spiritual beliefs become filled with a sense of direction and purpose to make a positive difference in the world after a major traumatic event. The crisis revealed what they could be, as well as what would have to change to grow to a new level of success; and it pushed them to a new level of living.

 

The hard lessons that come from crisis have long lasting and life-changing results. I've seen people change in more ways than you could imagine because of having a season of carrying the crucible of a crisis. Things like dad’s who were too busy to spend five minutes playing catch with a child become 'father of the year' candidates after an emergency room experience. Mother's who were obsessed with shopping become budget-minded financial managers while rebuilding their life after their husband died. Men who loved their careers more than they ever would love a wife become softened and surrendered to view that woman as the most important person in their world. Women who placed their children above all else become insightful and aware of their own insecurities and need for control, then move to release those kids to become who they were supposed to be, instead of being stuck in the shadows of their mother's expectations. Young people who moved from meaningless relationships and empty jobs to connected friendships and purpose-driven careers. People give up spending money on drugs, gambling, pornography or alcohol to let go of the addictions and grab hold of a stable life with careful financial management leading them to be free from debt forever.

 

I've seen miracles on the other side of crisis situations so many times that I can tell you prayer is real and essential to experience peace during the stormy trials of life. I know that God's promises to comfort, protect, guide, cover and bless are real. I know it because of what I've seen in walking through crisis with people from every culture, every age group and every background. They got better as they prayerfully moved toward truth and allowed others to help them get back on track to a better quality of life in spite of the difficulties of their painful past.

 

They got better and I'm glad, yet I have one last question, "so how about you?" When is it your turn to have a better quality of life in spite of difficulty? My hope is that you will turn the corner right now to boldly move in a new direction away from the stress and pressure to move toward the strength and purpose that only comes because of a life-changing word...Crisis.

 

 

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Comments (13) -

6/2/2011 4:57:30 AM
Stacy United States
Stacy
God knew I needed to read this today, thank you for posting this and thank you for your ministry! I am filled with anxiety daily after receiving news three months ago that I had thyroid cancer. God is wonderful and got me through to where no treatment was needed but I still battle with thoughts that this is not over..and that was too easy. I will hold these words with me close as I walk through this time...thank you.
6/2/2011 5:08:04 AM
Yvonne United States
Yvonne
Thank you for posting this. I needed to read this right now. My daughter has estranged herself from me with no reason and I have felt completely raw and alone from her actions and cannot see an end in sight. Right now, I'm just trying to survive and move forward...very hard and hard for others to understand. But I need God-reminders to keep me grounded so I thank you for that...daily.
6/2/2011 5:14:31 AM
Randi United States
Randi
Wow God gave me this as a gift! I am in the middle of a divorce, I lost my grandmother 2 weeks ago today and last friday we admitted my grandfather to hospice! So thank you for this!!
6/2/2011 5:27:09 AM
Sandy United States
Sandy
Thanks for posting this. God has been reminding me, we are not alone.  Have been in new house two years, previous house has not sold, death in family last week, and a death in my childhoods friends family. Father having colon cancer surgery tomorrow.  Stress trying to build, like a tea kettle and than a friend stops me and says, haven't seen or talked to you for a few week, but you've been on me heart, you will get through this.
The stresses of life sometimes seem to fold in around us, but by keeping our eyes focused on the prize, we can see through the haze and come out on the other side.
6/2/2011 5:29:51 AM
Robin United States
Robin
I have been in a "crisis mode" for about 5 years...a year ago, God led me to a secular counselor who has been a "God send."  

This was so me, "Women who placed their children above all else become insightful and aware of their own insecurities and need for control, then move to release those kids to become who they were supposed to be, instead of being stuck in the shadows of their mother's expectations."  I was completely lost when my boys grew up and left home...

I'm so thankful for God's Grace,...that He has allowed me to see those things in me that need healing and changing!  Painful, YES!!!! - but God is Faithful!
6/2/2011 6:14:03 AM
Lisa United States
Lisa
What a word straight from my Father this morning that I found when checking the Klove page. We've all heard "when it rains, it pours" and I am in one of those seasons of life. When I finally thought I'd "found my place in this world" (a career that I thought I would enjoy until I retired); I received news that it will end as of June 30. My father in law (many states away) has returned to the hospital for the 2nd time since surgery; and needs to be well enuf to begin chemo in a couple weeks. And the city I have lived in for 6 years, and love as if it were my birthplace, is preparing for a major flood from the river that runs through it.  I am praising God for the addition of our son, daughterinlaw & my first grandchild to our home. I am clinging to 2 Cor 12:9; "...But He said to me, My grace is sufficient, for My Power is made perfect in weakness."
6/2/2011 6:40:01 AM
Jane United States
Jane
Thank you for this...I have shared with a friend who is not coping well with a series of crisis in her life.  I'm hoping this will give her some hope.  I have tried to make her cope my way and realized that only works for me.  We all suffer through crisis, but it is also important to push through it and not dwell.
I know God is always here for me and that is how I cope.  I'm hoping my friend can find that.
6/2/2011 7:34:23 AM
Peggy United States
Peggy
I agree with you on the tragedy in Joplin, and Mass, but we suffered in Okla last Tues also. One family in Pedimont lost 2 boys ages 15 months and 3 years. The daughter and mother were injured also. Lots of families lost everything. We had an F-5 and several F-4's, F-3's and F-2's. None of the tornados came to my town but they came close. I am not asking for petty but just remember Okla in your prayers also. I think God is trying to tell us something...maybe the people need to listen.
6/2/2011 7:43:43 AM
Charlene Raven United States
Charlene Raven
This is all so true. In 2009, I discovered I had colon cancer. I had surgery and chemo; by Feb 2010, I was told it was cured. Feb 14th of this year, I found out it had returned, spread and was inoperable. I've been back in chemo since then and my tumors have already shrunk 50%. People praise me about my attitude with everything going on in my life...about how positive it is and how much of an inspiration I am (I just recently graduated from college even with going through chemo, etc.). I tell them that it's up to God now. It is in his hands, his will to either take me or heal me. I'm not saying that I'm not scared or that I want to die, but if I let this worry me too much, I'll go crazy. I have my days when the 'bottom falls out' of my emotions, but with four children still at home, I try to be strong for them...however, I am making plans for their future in case I'm not here...just being realistic. I've found that if I let God hold the majority of my burden, my heart feels lighter.
6/2/2011 7:45:52 AM
Terry United States
Terry
This article was so powerful for me.  First, I want to reach out to those who are going through probably the worst crisis ever:  those survivors, and those who lost their lives, due to the recent horrific tornados.  Each and every one are in my thoughts and prayers.  May God's peace and love come over you and wash away your sorrow.  I don't know what it is like to go through something like what they are experiencing, but much like the article says, crisis strikes in many forms.  I can truly say that I do not believe I would be here writing this today had God not walked beside me and held me up over the past 2 years.  I still struggle with the loss of my father and then my 25 year marriage shortly thereafter, but I know HE is with me every step of the way.  Each day I get stronger and learn new things about myself that I didn't see before.  My crisis has helped me become a better person in all aspects of my life.  I pray that God continues to walk with me.  HE loves us!  I love the saying "If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it."  God Bless!
6/2/2011 4:12:23 PM
Pam United States
Pam
First of all, my prayers go out to all who are hurting. Whether it be natural disasters, illness, loosing folks we love, etc,God stand beside you all. For a long time I have wanted to call K-love with my testimony but didnt, for reasons I do not want to hurt people involved. But I have to share with you all how amazing and everlastingly patient and loving our Jesus. I was saved when I was 6 years old, now that seems young but with the Christian inflluences I had growing up..... well, I knew....I was passionatly in love with Jesus as far back as I can remember. I never wanted a family, children, the norm, I was going to be a missionary, like Lotti Moon (if you were Babtist, youll know who she was, Ha Ha!) I brought every childhood friend I could to church to meet Jesus.... I hid in corners to hear the older Christians sit after lunch on Sundays, to discuss the Bible......My life is one who was going to give all I had to him......
    Today I write to tell you all I am an addict. I have fought addiction all my life. You see things happen even to the smallest child of God that were never supposed to happen, and because of the sins of others, Satan can take a life that could have shown, and try to destroy it! But I am here today to stand and say when Jesus chooses you, noone will ever destroy you! Even during my deepest days of addiction, He never left me, I could see Him, just behind me, tears in His eyes, waiting patiently for me to see..... " I Am ALL YOU NEED, CHILD!"
     They say all your tears are counted, He knows and has them all. I have been a child of tears all my life. My heart has never been toughened, the child inside cries for everyone!But tears are a gift, I am told. If they are, then I am thankful God gave them to me! Pain and hurts can bend us, shake us, but what Joy comes in the morning!!!!! My life turned out so different than what I saw myself becoming but the path has worth it, when I know He thinks I am worth something! Something He gave His precious life to save! Everytime I fall and He picks me back up, dusts me off and sets me back on the path, I grow..... in wisdom, in patience, (especially with myself) and love..... love that grows for Him......with such longing, to see His face..... to someday leave all this behind, like dust in the wind....and go home. If there is anyone of you out there who just wonder why Im even still here....what could God want me here for....I am so unworthy.... Stand up, hold your head up and rejoice!!!! He, the all in all, the first and last, choose you...and me!!!! Love and prayers to all who hurt....
6/2/2011 6:09:21 PM
Beth Bayless United States
Beth Bayless
I have no idea what the people touched by this devistation as tornados go and their whole life gone in an instant. I was diagnosed with lupus a couple of months ago, being told it was a condition called Sjogren's Syndrome a year ago. I have had alot of losses physically and mentally. Although our losses are not exactly alike I know God can move mountains and bring us to a place of peace and understanding. I will be praying for everyone involved in your rescues, medical care, and rebuilding. Also more importantly you.
6/3/2011 1:13:14 PM
Diane MacLachlan United States
Diane MacLachlan
Every day on my way in to work I listen to your radio station and it is the boost and encouragement I need to allow God to keep my heart, mind and spirit open.  Working in Care Ministry I hear a lot of heartache and have seen God work in impossible situations to bring healing and hope.  Dwight's comments yesterday were particularly on point when he encouraged those in crisis to learn to ask, simply ask.  God desires to move the hearts of others and work His goodness in and through them and sometimes it just requires the tiniest bit of humility to reach out with a request.  

THANK YOU for your continued support and encouragement!
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