There is a constant among us that we all respond to, change. Oftentimes, negative change can result in a breakdown or crisis. Life inevitably provides both internal and external crises. An internal crisis can help us notice old patterns and ways of living that have broken down and are not working. Our usual coping mechanisms and defenses call us to examine the taken-for-granted ways we have been living, invite us to face unresolved issues, unwise compromises to our integrity, and lies we have been living with or by.

An external crisis is a tragedy. Tragedies are such occurrences as being diagnosed with cancer, a horrible car accident, war and murder. Tragedy involves unspeakable suffering and sometimes we have to crawl (or limp) back from a tragedy.

The particular crisis I am talking about are the things in life that break us down, that stop our lives and our sense of oneself so completely that life cannot go on as before. Such breakdowns could include, an illness, change in relationship, change in employment, major depression or mental illness and severe emotional paralysis or confusion.

The recommendation at the time of a breakdown is to talk with a therapist. Getting an objective perspective from a professional will empower one to recover from breakdowns and crisis and reconnect with a life of meaning, aliveness and joy. While the individual is practicing to stabilize emotions, thoughts and behaviors the therapist is constantly moving the client toward mental and emotional health, personal insight and empowerment through acceptance of what can be changed and what is out of one's control.

As our changing lives provide these moments of choice, these are some of the questions (once stabilized) we can process with our therapist:

  • Can you see this crisis as a wake-up call?

  • Are there long overdue changes in your life you need to make but have put off?

  • Do you need to look at and alter some patterns that are no longer working?

  • Can you use this time to figure out what part of your life is within your control and what you are responsible for?

  • Do you need to stop blaming yourself or others and get on with changing what you can about your situation?

  • Is it time to recognize and admit you have been lying to yourself or others?

  • Will you become bigger from facing the crisis?

In approaching these questions with a therapist, the individual will be provided just enough feedback to solidify where there is change to be made, as well as insight as to how to accomplish that goal. This guidance can be powerful and provides a healthy supportive relationship with boundaries that are effective for an individual breaking through a crisis.

This same process discussed above can be applied in regard to a person who is not in crisis but is simply feeling overwhelmed and has trouble coping. Examples are family stress, occupational stress, physical stress and such. My suggestion in these cases is to start reaching out to your support system to get feedback about doing just what is needed and validation that you are not alone in coping with life demands. This little exercise works wonderfully in shifting our focus to unity and power. If we listen we feel better.

Please give yourself the best opportunity to overcome, learn and develop by using an experienced therapist that can give perspective to your crisis and current situation.

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