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Uncovering Your Courage When Facing A Crisis

photo: miguelavg

 

There are times in our lives where we are faced with more than we think we can handle. Although we can probably find ways to work through most of life’s challenges, the fact is that sooner or later we all end up facing a problem that threatens to overwhelm us. It might be a divorce, illness, job loss, or anything else that shakes us to our cores.

In times like these, it helps to have a game plan. Even with the biggest crisis, if you put three steps into action, you will be well-equipped to handle it the best you can – which is all you can ask of yourself.

Speak

Sometimes just talking to someone helps you process what you’re going through. If you’re facing a crisis, take the time to tell someone about it. If it’s something that involves your whole family, sometimes it helps to go to someone who’s not in the thick of it. Maybe you have a co-worker who is a good listener. Or maybe there’s another mom in your kids’ playgroup who might give you a chance to share your story.

Just talking about the challenges you’re facing helps you to feel less alone in your struggle. Share your story, gauge reactions, and see if people might help you see your troubles from another point of view.

Talking about your troubles also helps you process your grief. If a family member is facing a terminal illness or you’ve lost a job or you had to put down a pet, just talking about it helps you process through the parts that are troubling you the most.

Several years back, I had a dog, Journey, who was diagnosed with cancer and given 2-5 weeks to live. I was shocked and so upset. I spoke with a friend of mine immediately after getting the news. She wasn’t even a dog person, but I was so distraught and needed to tell her what was happening.

I remember saying something to the effect that if I had known this was going to happen I would have taken him for more walks or spent more time together or something like that. It was silly, really, since my dog really lacked for nothing in his life, but it was said out of grief. My friend said to me, “Maybe you and Journey just had exactly the life together that you were meant to have.”

I never would have expected such a profound assessment from someone who wasn’t a dog person! But in that one powerful sentence, she helped me put aside all my regrets and focus on the present.

So when you are facing a crisis, talk to someone and let her help you process it. You never know what simple thing she might say that will make a world of difference for you.

Search

Another tool you should use to help build courage in a time of crisis is to seek out help and resources. This can take a variety of forms.

If you are facing job loss, talk to the unemployment office, see what social services are available, and call your city to find out what resources they offer. Go to your library and find a good book on building a strong resume, and see if they have a class on bolstering your interview skills.

Besides services that might be able to help you, also search out ways that you can restore your mental health. For instance, if the crisis you are facing is marital instability and possible divorce, look for new ways to help you feel better.

This might mean finding a new yoga class or doing some reading on stress management or even talking with others who have gone through a divorce and came out of it just fine.

Classes, books, and services are just a few things that you should seek out to help you move through your crisis in the most positive way you can.

Support

The third piece of the puzzle in finding courage in crisis is to surround yourself with your support system.

Often when we go through difficult times, our friends will say, “Let me know what I can do to help,” but you’re so distraught you don’t even know what to ask, and you worry about imposing or whether they really meant it. Take them for their word that they want to help, and allow them to do so.

If, for example, you are facing an illness, take the time to focus on your health by allowing others to cover for you in some areas. Ask your mom to take your kids for a couple of days or see if a friend can organize a dinner delivery for a couple of weeks with the rest of your friends.

You also might be able to find support groups to help you face your crisis. There are bereavement groups to help you after a loss, support groups to build you up if you lose a job or your marriage dissolves, and other groups where you can just vent or listen to others or just escape for a while.

There are a variety of ways to get support for others, and sometimes the way that support helps the most is just because it offers the simple reminder that you are not in this alone – some people have faced the same challenges, and others just want to help you.

Whatever it is in your life that has thrown you for a loop, you can find your courage to face the crisis and get through it by talking about your troubles, finding resources, and leaning on support. The easy thing to do is to hunker down deep under the blankets and stay in bed. But the things that will help you thrive – and not just survive – are the ones where you seek help and let others help you.

Every test successfully met is rewarded by some growth in intuitive knowledge, strengthening of character, or initiation into a higher consciousness. -Paul Brunton

Building Family Bonds: social wellness begins at home

A sense of belonging and connection is a basic human need – maybe even as much as food and shelter. There have been many studies about the benefits of social support, all showing that having a supportive network of family or close friends has been linked to better health, a stronger immune system, and more resistance to disease. Not surprisingly, the lack of social stability has been linked to a variety of physical and psychological illnesses. If you want to build a stronger bond within your own family in order to create a more supportive network, how do you start? Really, the best place to begin is by giving support and friendship, because when you give it, you also are very likely to receive it.

Think about the time you spend with your immediate family. Do you find that even when you are physically in the house together, you spend much of that time alone or isolated? You might all be in different rooms doing different things, or you might even be in the same room, but each person is doing his or her own thing like watching TV, playing video games, or surfing the internet. Interacting with your family members is what strengthens and enriches your bonds. Here are five ways to start building those bonds:

1. Meal times – This may be the only time during the day that your family can gather together, so make it count! Depending on how busy your family is, try to get together for dinner at least four or five nights per week. It’s important to get rid of distractions (no television, no phones), which makes it easier to carry on substantive conversations. Discuss what happened during the day, upcoming plans, and ongoing activities. Try to keep mealtime positive – there’s a time and place for resolving family issues, and keeping difficult topics off the table (so to speak) will ensure that everyone will look forward to this time to bond each day.

2. Busy times – Even when work and travel make it difficult to spend time together, you can always tend to your bond with family members by letting them know you’re thinking of them. Leave a note for your child and tell her something you love about her, send a text to your spouse telling him how much you miss him, and if you were away on a business trip, bring back a small souvenir to let your family know you were thinking of them even when you weren’t together. Physical presence is important, but you can always build your emotional bond even when you can’t be together.

3. Down times – Bedtime and playtime are particularly important between parents and their children. Reading a bedtime story is a great way to express your love for your kids, as well as an opportunity to instill the love of reading. Remember that your goal is to be interactive. Ask your kids questions about the story as you read it, and allow young children to point out pictures or ask questions. As they get older, they can read to you or you can both take turns reading. This is also another part of your day that can involve the whole family. Even if your kids don’t share a room, gathering the whole family on one bed can easily become the part of the day that every family member happily anticipates the most.

Depending on the age of your children, you might not get an opportunity for playtime every day. But you can schedule it in occasionally with older kids, and they’re probably more likely to be on board if you make it fun for them. Throw a ball with your aspiring baseball player, play Xbox with your gamer, or work on a crossword puzzle with your bookworm. Jigsaw puzzles and board games may not be as popular anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to entice them with some old school fun!

4. Family causes – We all know the importance of raising children who care about others. One way to teach them and also work on your family bond is by picking a social issue and creating a common focus for the family.

Talk to your kids and see what concerns or curiosities they might have. For instance, if your family wants to learn more about caring for the environment, you could set up a recycling station in your house where you can sort bottles, cans and paper. You could plant a tree in the yard together, go on a hike, or start a garden. Working together on a social issue can be educational and it could even spark new interests in your children.

5. Adventures – Family adventures can be big or small, but when you go on adventures together, you will strengthen your bond and also create lasting memories together. Talk to your family members about what their idea of an adventure is (and don’t forget to include your own!). You might get a surprising variety of results – from catching fireflies to traveling to another country!

A family adventure allows you to get to know more about what inspires each person, gives you lots of opportunities to research and plan together, and ultimately provides an experience that you all are likely to remember for a long time.

The above tips work for families of all different types. Your older kids might actually enjoy some extra attention, and your younger kids will appreciate being involved in family planning. Couples without children can still enjoy playtime (board games, video games) and create new traditions that are special just to them. The important thing is that you continue to find ways to enjoy one another’s company, thus reinforcing the support structure in your family.

What are your favorite ways to bond with family members? Do you have special activities that bring everyone together? Share them in the comments, so I can learn from you too!