The greatest opportunities for change, growth, development, evolution, and/or personal improvement can occur when we face adversity.
Even in extreme circumstances.
Not that it’s easy.
Or exactly enticing.
Given a choice in these matters, many could arguably be forgiven for giving into human impulses and not exactly embracing crisis and/or change, even when it is forced or needed.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response; in our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor E. Frankl.
In fact, avoidance and/or denial is a credible human way of attempting to control the level of pressure experienced as life events, some beyond our control, present themselves. For example, we may see our ageing parents trying to avoid or deny reality, despite the obvious signs of dementia being present on a daily basis.
The stress and distress likely grows until a medical emergency forces the situation, and a crisis emerges, nice and neat, years in the making, but amplifying discord and upset.
Psychologically, there’s more going against us emotionally, physically and/or mentally when facing adversity, that can separate us from the very help and support we need.
“People are generally forced to change. We don’t want to change… then something absolutely forces us to realize that what we are doing isn’t working or that our picture of the world is wrong… So we must change.” Ira Glass.
Assessing Readiness for Change
Change, like birth, death and taxes, can be seen as a somewhat inevitable part of life – but the experience can feel counter-intuitive especially when we derive a sense of security from routine and the expected, and staying within our known comfort zones.
Change is necessary however for personal growth.
This can prove to be especially true if we find ourselves in situations that pose risk to our physical or emotional health or wellbeing, and do not serve us best.
We can work with a professional to plot a pathway for change. Saying goodbye to a former lifestyle or habit isn’t easy, but there can be benefits to yield.
Approaches such as Motivational Interviewing and the Trans Theoretical Model of Change help to therapists to ascertain where someone is in wanting to change.
There is a cycle to such action. Knowing if someone is:
- (i) still considering change (weighing up pros and cons ie contemplating);
- (ii) not at ALL interested in change but noticing REASONS to change ie pre contemplative; or
- (iii) ready and ready for change (preparing or moving into action) can help guide the right therapeutic conversations that match our personal connection to a change process.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths; these persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.
Some change is decidedly forced; lives can and do change in a heartbeat. And that can be incredibly challenging, especially if this places us in a dazed and confused state.
Accidents do happen. Some are Very Bad Ones, leading to irrevocable change/s.
Health can undulate. Some conditions are, or will become, chronic and persistent.
Unexpected job loss, including redundancy, can throw us into a deep pit of despair.
The decisions of other’s may work against us. Death/suicide. Divorce/separation. Desertion.
Regardless of the precipitating event, we are left reeling, feeling lost and alone, breathing in the pain.
Crisis can lead to experiences of compromised mental health, where it is easy to lose perspective and equilibrium. Resilience is often a state most people will strive towards. There exists however many variables, and diversity in life experience. This can serve to can erode an individual’s capacity towards resilience and eustress in coping with adversity.
Help may be encouraged or recommended, just at the time when we are feeling the most vulnerable and wish to hide. Just turning up to the designated appointment seems like a daunting task in itself; just to be seen can feel insurmountably bleak.
Trust your instinct. Most practitioners are skilled in establishing rapport and putting you at ease. It’s okay to give feedback as to what works best with you.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” Maya Angelou.
Introducing Psychological First Aid
This is also often referred to as ‘First things First’.
Before considering solutions, we work with the individual to restore a sense of internal equilibrium. This can include many strategies but ultimately is based on intense self-care, to allow the brain chemistry to settle – adrenaline and cortisol can be decision-making blockers – and natural emotions to ease, so we can start to see a way forwards even via baby steps.
Remember – baby steps are STILL movements in a forward direction and they do count!
Author: M1 Psychology.