As professional coaches, we spend a lot of time and energy dealing with crises that take place in the lives of other people. Usually, the crises are business-related although sometimes they can be in their personal lives, specifically when they interfere with the business outcomes. In our organizations, we find ourselves navigating partner conflicts, communication issues with clients, changes in the flow of resources or capacity while planning for future earnings and losses, successes and failures, and how to better manage all these changes. What if, in the midst of those demands on your time and energy, you experience a personal crisis as well? How do you care for yourself the way you have so naturally cared for others? Now the giver becomes the receiver. The helper becomes the one needing the help.
Below is a suggested approach to a “personal crisis intervention” that you can conduct for yourself when you experience a crisis to help you get centered, identify clear actions and be able to carry on successfully:
- Take time to objectively evaluate the situation. What happened? List the facts about the circumstances. How did it change or impact you - physically, mentally, and emotionally?
- Identify what results, help, or resources that would make the biggest difference for you. What will provide you with the greatest relief? Ask others for that.
- Visualize the change, how long you think it will take to get back on course and what it will look like on the other side.
- Make plans and take action for restoring the balance.
Recently, I realized that I was beginning to feel overwhelmed, which caused me to feel stymied. Both my husband and my sister were having major surgery. They were miles apart on different coasts and I could not physically be in both places at the same time. As I evaluated the situation, I realized that I was uncertain and worried about both of them. I observed that I needed to get more comfortable with my own limitations and turn to the resources I had available to me. I also had work-related assignments to complete that could not be dismissed so, I needed to prioritize those tasks, too.
As I evaluated all that was coming at me at once, I realized that I can only do one thing at a time. I asked myself “What is the first thing that I can do in order to reduce my stress level and allow me to design a more workable plan?” In deciding what I COULD DO, I also recognized the things that I COULD NOT DO.
I talked with my niece and realized that she, her daughter, and my sister’s doctors were doing a great job of caring for my sister. I could offer emotional support from a distance with phone calls, texts, cards and letters and my niece would keep me posted about information related to the surgery, how my sister was doing and any concerns or assurances she had.
I also decided along with my husband that I would be the primary contact with my husband’s care team. In the early stages of treatment, when he was not as comfortable physically, I stepped up and became the “go to” contact. As he became more able to do things for himself, I stepped back and supported him in doing more self-care. It helped that the medical team had a time period in mind when he would be ready again to be totally in charge. It was sooner than I had projected, and this helped my anxiety level come back down closer to normal faster. I visualized having him back in charge of his own healing and that it would be days instead of weeks. I was rewarded by feeling stronger and happier.
At this point, I began putting my own self-care and work back on my “to do” list. I started with recharging myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. I found some quiet time for meditation and I planned physical exercise. I went to the gym and spent an hour with aerobic movements to get my body back feeling strong and ready for the tasks at hand. The meditation helped energize my spirit and quiet my mind. My goal was to create a level of balance between work, play, and time with family and friends. I reminded myself that I cannot truly be present for others until I am first feeling comfortable and healthy myself.
In closing, when we encounter personal crises, we must plan interventions for ourselves just as we do for our clients. Conduct an objective evaluation, identify resources and requests, plan specific strategic actions, and find reward in your follow-through.
At this point, I am glad to report that both my sister and my husband are doing well. Their medical teams and other family members and friends have done their part to take care of them and help them heal. I couldn’t have done it all - and realized that I didn’t need to.
Have you had a personal crisis that caused you to stop and conduct your own personal crisis intervention? Would you like to share some of the wisdom discovered? I’d love to hear from you.
With Warm Regards,