When Letting Go Is Your Only Option
Have you ever had something happen that totally knocked you off balance? An unexpected loss, or change that hit a little too hard? Maybe it was losing someone close or going through a painful divorce that's still affecting you.
When a crisis happens it's often a turning point. You start to question if there is a higher purpose - it is definitely a test of faith. Your ability to cope with the crisis determines the quality of life you'll have after it subsides.
When you're in the middle of it, you hold on for dear life. Crisis can rock you to the core - especially when it's unexpected. Forgetfulfulness, trouble focusing, and panic-attacks are common here.
What qualifies as a crisis?
- Death of a loved one, or pet
- Break-up, divorce or separation
- Serious health issues or illness
- Accidents resulting in trauma or injury
- Any type of abuse to self or loved ones
- Victim of a crime
- Mental health issues
The key to coping with any crisis is finding the gift or a lesson attached to that experience. At first, the emotions are overwhelming. You may be in shock. It's only after it subsides that you begin to put the pieces together.
For me losing my dad to cancer was my first real crisis. As a young adult, I had no perspective. I had joined a support group a few years before and that became my lifeline. It took about 18 months of intense grief but afterwards, I became stronger. Ironically, it was living out my worst fear that made me gain confidence. I knew I could get through anything after that.
People mean well, but research shows that after a month, family and friends assume the crisis has past. But the person still suffering secretly struggles. Time passes for everyone but you. You pretend the pain isn't there. You stop talking about it.
Each crisis is a test of attitude, endurance, patience and support. No one teaches how to get through a crisis but that's why I'm writing this for you.
Here are some important lessons learned from crisis.
1. Everything stops - if you let it.
Pretending as if nothing happened comes at a price. When a crisis hits, your physical and emotional energy are the first to go. After an initial surge of adrenaline, you start to crash.
Suddenly, the simplest things take a lot out of you. This is especially true with grief. The emotions are intense. It feels like you will NEVER be the same again.
Thinking that you won't survive the pain keeps you fighting against it. "If I start to cry I won't stop," but the more you fight the pain the bigger it gets.
Lesson: Slow everything down. Get back to basics. Enough sleep, healthy food, fresh air, healthy comforts like watching Netflix or reading your favorite book will keep you from running on empty.
2. It's YOUR turn now
If you're saying to yourself, "I can't bother anyone, they have their own lives." But the people who really care for you are waiting to help you.
By not allowing yourself to receive, you sabotage the healing. A crisis is hardest when endured alone. Instead of experiencing your feelings, you're resisting them.
If you don't feel comfortable asking for support, find other options. Join a closed therapy group, try Al-Anon, a 12 step program for friends and families with addiction. There are so many options these days.
Lesson: When you're in a crisis or significant pain, ask for help. Isolating makes it worse.
3. Have your feelings
You have to let yourself feel the feelings so that you can move past the pain.
Avoiding the pain takes a lot of energy. When you push those feelings down by getting busy or drinking too much creates more problems. Compulsive behaviors are the fastest way to avoid painful feelings. It may work in the moment but long-term it causes you to feel more separated.
If you have the right support, enduring the crisis is more manageable. When you can have your feelings in the moment, they won't be on your back for the next several years. And then won't morph into addictive behavior!
I've seen this so much in my practice. When feelings get denied, they create problems like anxiety, depression, health problems, relationship separation, feeling numb or disconnected. These issues make living a happy life pretty tough.
Lesson: Why not do the "feeling" work now and not have to pay the price later?
The courage it takes to heal
The process of healing is the same for any crisis. Self-care is vital because your energy is low and you won't be at your best. This is not the time to make major changes. Personal energy needs to be conserved. Asking for help and getting extra support is always recommended.
Knowing what to expect during is a crisis makes the process less overwhelming. You don't have to go sink into a deep depression or have panic attacks. You can tolerate the pain and come out the other side. I've done this more times than I can count, and I'm better for it and so can you.