I met an Insurance claims specialist at a business networking event a few years ago.
He was conservative, sensible, kind and extremely reliable.
Over the years, he would send me updates on his business, and recently shared that he had been hospitalised for treatment on his back. At one point he was so incapacitated that he was in hospital without being able to move a muscle. During this time, he downloaded podcasts as there was little else he could do but listen to them.
Whilst at the hospital (not at the office or at a meeting) he had a lightbulb moment; an insight. What is described as a sight from within.
How about if he embarked on creating his own podcast series?
Just a reminder, that this guy was an Insurance claims specialist, not an Entrepreneur.
Fast forward a few months and he has created a successful podcast series showcasing the stories of Londons hidden personalities, and it’s showing a side of him which frankly I have never experienced. He transformed his stay in hospital which was unexpected and extremely difficult, into an incredible sideline opportunity. He also happens to be a great interviewer, a skill he probably never imagined was tucked deep within.
Who would have known?
This is a clear demonstration of being able to bounce back and thrive from a crisis and I believe this is one of the biggest skills we can arm ourselves with.
We are often faced with situations we didn’t ask for, and this is when our most feared reality emerges. Change and uncertainty rear it’s ugly head and ignores your wealth, profession, religion or race. It strikes indiscriminately, and you can’t avoid or create a life that is so neatly micromanaged that you won’t ever be faced with this.
The truth is that you have the power to navigate through anything.
Some people tend to be a dab hand better than others at accessing this, only because they have had to face crisis and uncertainty so often. Those who don’t believe they have this resource, it’s only because life has not tested them enough yet.
Change can be a threat, an opportunity or a time for reflection.
When the worst thing imaginable happens, how and where do you find the strength not only to survive but thrive?
Psychological resistance is the ability to successfully deal with a crisis, bounce back and return to pre-crisis status. It requires every inch of tenacity, persistence, having an ability to manage expectations and problem-solving.
There are those who thrive, and those who fall apart when in the midst of a crisis. No judgement on either, but it’s good to know which category you fall under.
Those who fall apart, experience a post-traumatic stress, resist disorder, seek stability and feel broken when under pressure. Those who bounce back in the aftermath, experience a post-traumatic growth where they thrive under these conditions and become more resilient and resourceful during this time.
You can’t stop a crisis entering your life, but you can become aware of who you become when faced with it, and endeavour to arm yourself with the tools you need.
Nassim Taleb in his book ‘Anti-fragile: Things that gain from disorder’ states:
Some people benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Anti-fragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the anti-fragile gets better.
The anti-fragile has a singular property of allowing us to deal with the unknown, to do things without understanding them — and do them well. Let me be more aggressive: we are largely better at doing than we are at thinking, thanks to anti-fragility. I’d rather be dumb and anti-fragile than extremely smart and fragile, any time.
I can relate to the phenomena of anti-fragile after having gone through pretty difficult and traumatic divorces a number of years ago whilst being a mother of young children. I was never stronger or smarter than during the times of duress. I was enveloped by powers I didn’t even know existed within me.
Although my life externally was far worse during these times, I thrived beyond measure, and it was simply unimaginable what I created from this state. I crumbled, then bounced back by acknowledging the sadness, then dug deep inside me to find the strength I needed to navigate the new normal.
I chose to skim away unhealthy friendships, reached out more to family, and gained immeasurable clarity on what was important, what I would fight for, and what I would need to let go.
I re-started yoga, swimming and dance as a hobby, I had recalled how these practices brought so much fun when I was a teenager, so I followed only what would bring me joy and fun in the midst of all the external chaos. I knew that whatever stress was entering my life, it could be only be counteracted by integrating a few fun moments in my week.
I couldn’t allow myself the luxury of a stressful or hopeless thought. I hired mentors, set up mastermind groups, anything to keep me focused and accountable.
All of this helped me thrive after I had processed the experience, whilst I slowly became more internally resilient and robust. There was a freedom to this too. Once life no longer looks perfectly composed on the outside, there is nothing left to keep together, and you can be as authentic as you want in front of your community, friends and family.
The worst has happened, everyone knows about it, and the apocalypse hasn’t happened, You’re alive.
A whole new world then opens up.
Under a survival mechanism, you navigate life very differently. You tap into parts of yourself that don’t normally get air time.
In times of stress, disorder and uncertainty, you dig deep to find another way forward. Your normal way of operating doesn’t serve you in these moments. There is often no time to overthink, evaluate, assess or research, so another element of your brain kicks in.
Recently, a woman fell from a cruise liner and spent 10 hours alone in the freezing cold Adriatic sea. She survived by floating in the sea whilst singing to herself so as not to fall asleep, to preserve her body temperature from falling. She has not only survived the situation but those who found her were amazed by her quick recovery.
If she would have read this article a month ago, she would have dismissed my claims.
Bouncing back is a skill that has unmeasurable benefits, it means you live with less fear, anxiety and overwhelm. You know that if life were to throw anything at you, you would catch it with one hand and throw it back with the other.
This isn’t about keeping a stoic profile or repressing the feelings that come into play when you hit difficult times.
You acknowledge the crisis and feel the sadness, loss, upset, frustration and anger that change and uncertainty might bring.
Being vulnerable and reaching out for help with friends or family if you need to, then become proactive in the midst of this.
Huge strength emerges from surviving your biggest fear. Take back the driving seat, find the lessons you need to take from what has happened, hand pick people who can support you, practice self-care and develop a growth mindset. Start a journal as a way of organising your thoughts and to provide a permanent record of your personal coping strategies.
You have to be open to growing, evolving and meeting the new challenges, and in the midst of this, you will find the qualities, talents, capabilities and strengths you just never knew you had. It might open another world that necessitates for you to let go of the reality you hoped for and step into what currently is.
What have been your personal coping mechanisms when faced with crisis?
If this article resonated with you, you can read more chapters like these in my latest book Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living available now on Amazon.
If you want to connect with me to share insights from this article, I would love to hear from you. Send an e-mail to [email protected]
Originally published at www.micheleattiascoaching.com