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When a problem occurs – what is your first reaction?

When a crisis hits – what do you do?

I’ve seen a toddler choking while the parent yelled out their name in a panic and they were paralyzed, unable to step in and help her.  I’ve heard a young adult panicking at the side of the road during a snow storm not able to drive in those conditions. I’ve seen a young woman completely helpless when she walks into an airport not knowing what to do or where to go. I had a friend call me at 3:00 in the morning because her boyfriend was hurting her and she called the police and she was in complete panic mode. There are many more examples.

For me personally, I have experienced assault, fighting for custody of my kids, divorce, losing my job, not having a place to live, not having enough money to live on, having cancer, almost losing my arm, debilitating anxiety and having to deal with abusive, manipulative and controlling people.

I never panicked and I never got addicted to anything to dull the pain. I didn’t have anyone there to help me through, to vent to, to lean on – it was just me.  I’ve learned how to keep moving forward, even when it hurt as well as how to be resourceful. I actually learned a lot about myself and my capacity with every difficult moment I went through.  From my own experiences and those of my clients, I have definitely learned how to be resilient.

In many cases, if we are not taught in childhood, how to resolve problems on our own, then we don’t learn coping mechanisms. As parents, we think we are helping our kids by doing things for them, or bailing them out when they have a problem, when in fact we are doing them a disservice. We need to empower them to learn on their own which gives them confidence in themselves as well as the tools they need to handle life’s challenges.

I was taught some techniques to solve problems, but most of my resilience came from within.

Here are some of the tools that helped me:

Belief – I always believed that things could get better or that there was a way out. I never believed I was stuck or doomed in any way.

Logic – I would ask myself what makes the most sense in this moment.  How can I get myself out of this situation and what are my options?

Learn – I took the extra step to learn about where I was going and what to be aware of versus walking in blindly. For example, my Dad taught me how to change a flat tire or how to control a car on ice. If you don’t have someone to teach you, then ask the questions and do your research.

Positivity – In the middle of a crisis, I would focus on what is good in my current situation and hold on tight to that. The alternative is to spiral downward and only see the negative.

Accountability – I am the one who will get me out of this. I will not get caught up in a victim mindset and blame everyone and everything for my situation.

Journal – I would write down my experiences, what took place and how I felt. It was a good place to vent.

Acknowledge – to me, this is important.  I would also write down my wins and successes along the way. This would include when I recognized I was being a victim and I sought help on how to get out of that. When I applied new strategies or stood up for myself or learned how to handle a potential problem and then actually apply the learning, I was proud of myself. I was able to go back and see my progress – it was a motivation to help me move forward.

Panic is not a solution – it is a moment that you can turn around. You have the power to move forward, regardless of how awful it is or how it feels. Trust yourself to get you through.  If you don’t know how, seek advice. Don’t judge yourself. Just keep moving forward!