Dr. Paul Standal focuses on reducing your anxiety by helping you in understanding the crisis you are undergoing and recognizing and using your personal strength and inner resources for managing crisis.
MANAGING YOURSELF THROUGH CHANGE
Experiencing a life crisis is stressful, frightening and confusing. On the other hand it is a time of great opportunity, self-awareness, learning and life change that can lead to new levels of life satisfaction. It is the main reason why individuals and couples seek therapy, counseling or coaching.
Most crises are time-bound with identifiable stages. The first stage is one of normalcy in which there is a feeling of congruence, comfort and status quo. We are in a comfort zone in our lives.
The second stage is one in which a foreign element upsets the status quo. It can be a change in one’s life circumstances that causes our sense of insecurity or is experienced as severe loss. If it is experienced as a traumatic event, our sense of order is shattered and our worldview, our paradigm, becomes non-functional.
The third stage is one of emerging chaos. Our usual strategies for coping with life circumstances do not work. The individual can become overwhelmed with different feelings like stress, confusion, fear, hurt, depressed, uncomfortable, elated, a strong sense of urgency, or some other strong emotion. It is common to being like you are on an emotional rollercoaster, ricocheting from one feeling to another.
This is a time of creativity. You have one idea after another about what you can do. You may respond in ways that are not typical for you: directing the people around you, trying to stay in control; disengaging and retreating to some familiar activity; focusing on one small part of the problem, ignoring the chaos happening around you; or scrambling to find information about what is going on. Some of your actions work and some do not, which may heighten the confusion and the sense of urgency. Your feelings, behaviors, and performance are all over the map, unpredictable, varying from day to day, or sometimes even from moment to moment.
In the fourth and final stage, our struggle to rebalance ourselves and gain back control creates a paradigm shift in the way we function. This transitional shift can take many forms: an awareness, a letting go of something, feelings or someone that changes the way we live our lives. We re-engage in our lives and in the world in a different manner. Our priorities change. The final stage is where we come back into balance. We continue to practice. Integrate and master our new way of being.
Throughout this process one must really take care of themselves physically, psychologically and spiritually. Each of these stages of change requires courage, effort, persistence. The right path is not always evident and we can make mistakes in our process. Above all, we need to give ourselves a break. Remembering not to be so hard on yourself is, in itself, an attitude that requires care and persistent cultivation.
Tips for Managing Yourself through Change
Your first priority is to stay healthy. Take care of yourself.
Remember: This will not last. You will eventually have a paradigm shift if you stay present in the process, accepting new insights, even if they appear in conflict with your worldview.
Moving through chaos to eventual equilibrium is like riding a wave. Moving with and accepting, rather than denying, your internal reaction is important. It is okay to feel chaotic and confused as you move through the process.
Remain as open as you can to new data or information coming to you and adjust how you judge yourself or your performance at these times. In reality, crisis is a kind of rebirth, an opening to new opportunities and sense of self.
Sometimes crisis can occur in several parts of one’s life at the same time. It is best not to make irreversible long-term decisions in more than one area at a time.
Get support from other people. Talk to others about what is going on for you. If others are going through a similar change, listen to what is going on for them.
Appreciate yourself for taking risks and for learning to manage yourself through a difficult time.
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