Adversity can suddenly enter your world at any time. How you conduct yourself , is subject to your own tolerance. What are the actions you should take immediately upon hearing unsettling news? (I am talking seconds after your world has been rocked with such startling news.)
I have been there more times than I care to consider, but have also been able to apply these ten steps to my advantage during any crisis.
After years of studying my own behaviors, combined with those of others, I have found the following list to be helpful. Everyone is unique and also interprets things differently. However, please read and apply any, or all of these, the next time you find yourself suddenly reeling with a new adversity. They are a suggestion for you, certainly not a guarantee to make a dark day any easier. Hopefully, they will help guide you a bit though.
You may find that all ten have an application at times, or simply depending on the situation, find individual benefit in a handful of them. Regardless, know these are meant to provide a certain level of comfort and reference for you in any sudden disturbing situation.
1. Safety Is Paramount / Concentration Is the Key
Sometimes adversity strikes in the most inopportune time. The important aspect to note is that; keeping your safety is critical when you first hear difficult news. If you are in a car, pull over safely to a spot where you might be able to breathe in rhythm.
If you are in the middle of, or about to, perform a task… do not continue. Immediately distance yourself from performing any activity until such time has passed that you are able to focus fully on what it was you were doing before you heard the news.
2. Timing Is of The Essence
The phrase “ this is no time to be a hero” certainly applies. Trying to do too much in a moments’ notice can be detrimental to your intent.
Too much information collection and attempting too many calls, will do nothing but waste emotional processing time. When you receive troubling news, time must be forced to stand still for you.
Simply be present in the moment without allowing for any other distractions. Your emotions have permission to rule the day without distraction. Tomorrow is another day, today is for you.
3. “One and Done” Absolutely Rules
When you are facing difficult times, your natural instinct may be to immediately reach out for support. While this is advised wholeheartedly over time, when you speak of the immediacy of news being received, less is actually more. Follow the “One and Done Rule” of contacting only one person the moment crisis has befallen you. This step is tough, but super important.
When you spend time calling, texting, or meeting with many people, you run the risk of compounding your immediate emotional state. It is better to meet or contact one trusted emotional resource to seek support. This way, your thoughts are considered by only one person, and your communication is free flowing.
By doing this, you are keeping the overwhelm somewhat in check, rather than to have it gather steam when surrounding yourself with too many resources. There is plenty of time for that later on. For now, this is about you and one other person taking on the immediate strain of adversity news together.
4. Calming Your Own Storm
A racing mind is a barrier to judgement. When you have just received some rough news, your inner voice may be your worst enemy. It can instantly fill you with convoluted thoughts, what-if scenarios which are not warranted, or worst-case considerations that may not need an appropriate space. The best thing to do is to practice simplicity.
Light a candle and watch the flame flicker for five minutes, listen to meaningful music, or read a special poem or lyric to a favorite work performed. Regardless of what it is, the point here is to focus on remaining in check immediately. Disallow any other thoughts during this critical time. Simply pause and focus on what you have selected to be your source of calm. You are only talking a few minutes here, but it works.
5. Know Your Role and Just Be Yourself
Depending on the adversity, there may be several people impacted with such news. (A death in the family or a critical diagnosis of a loved one are examples of what I mean here.) It is important for you to not become someone you normally are not. In that, I mean to not position yourself as the rock or the voice of reason if your normal role is contradictory to these types of personas. Doing so, shall confuse the situation.
Be genuine, be yourself, offer support, receive support, and wade through the water together with the others. Being contrived does nothing but complicate an already emotional situation. When you step into an unfamiliar role, you might think you’re being helpful, but in all actuality you’re acting more the part of a stranger to those who need you the most. Be awesome… simply just be there.
6. Transportation Determination
When you have just received word of something bad in your life [if appropriate] travel immediately to the place where you can receive comfort and support. How you get there is an important consideration. Many times, the stress of travel can be overwhelming in and of itself. When you become dependent upon it for immediacy of actions, travel can be another source of frustration.
If you are driving and are not fit in the present moment to do so, pull over and make other arrangements. Most of the time it is better to have someone take you to where you need to be, rather than to get there on your own, and risk your safety in the process. Have a person lined up in advance for such an occasion, and completely take away this potential disruption at a time of crisis.
If you need to travel by air, have that same person make all of the arrangement for you. Again, remember, less is more. When your world has been rocked, you have much bigger things to worry about than a plane ticket and travel logistics.
7. Take the Race Out of Relay
All too often, when disturbing news is received, human instinct is to call everyone we know and share the news. Perhaps we are seeking immediate comfort or have been tasked to do so on behalf of others. Regardless, consider how this process might be inappropriate for you at such a time. Understand, the information exchange is truly important for those who might be immediately affected. There is no debate there, whatsoever. This does not mean you need to be the person making all of the phone calls in rapid fire succession.
Similar to your plan for having a transportation resource, that same person might also be tasked with controlling the immediate information flow. In short, they can make the calls on your behalf if you are not up to it. If you personally want to be the one doing so, do not feel a need to rush to place each and every call. Make one call then request the person you phoned to do the same. Keep the string going in succession until all of the necessary parties have been notified.
8. Heed the Technology Trap
The age of technology does not discriminate. Communication and information share are always available, virtually at our fingertips. We spend hours, day after day, using technology to make our lives more productive. However, when adversity strikes, it can become our nemesis. Too much access is not necessarily a good thing. Shut it down, shut it off, and put it away. If you must, give your cell phone to a friend or relative for close keeping. You definitely do not want to find yourself reading, interpreting, or accepting an ongoing series of phone calls. There is time for doing so later, but when you are ripe with emotion don’t read things, listen to opinions, take sympathy, or offers of support. Simply live in the moment. The last thing you need to hear is someone say, “Oh, I know how you must feel.” Trust me…they do not. So, don’t entertain any of it initially.
9. Avoid Doing Chemical Research
There is a lot to be said for enjoying a glass of wine after a long hard day. While this may be true in most circumstances for many people, it is not suggested for anyone who has just had their life rocked by adversity. Alcohol, drugs, or any other mind altering substances should be avoided at all costs. You might think it appropriate to relax the nerves, but it will only compound the emotional strain and work against you.
What I suggest along these lines, is to treat yourself to something special. Perhaps a large candy bar, a favorite pizza, or a highly caloric salty sack of goodness. Comfort food might be the immediate answer, but certainly anything mind altering should not even be considered.
10. Greet the Person in the Mirror
Close your eyes and realize the power of your strength. You are reeling from some bad news which has come your way. Consider upon opening your eyes, walking straight to a mirror for immediate affirmation. You will tell yourself that you are strong and that you can handle this. Whether you truly believe it at the time, or not, to hear yourself say it aloud while looking into your own eyes is very, very powerful.
Take a moment and simply talk to the face you see looking back at you. Say anything positive which comes to mind. The person you see is the person who will always be there for you. You will be the one to whisper in your ear, the one to pick you up, and certainly the one who will remain alongside of you for the entire journey.