Crisis times come unexpectedly, by definition. How do you respond? When it’s someone else’s crisis that strikes, do you find yourself full of feelings and knocked off track?
The time challenges that a crisis presents are complex. But the good news is that a friend or family member’s crisis, while very difficult, doesn’t need to throw you totally off balance. You can respond from a centered, grounded, and warm place. But how do you get there?
Here’s a situation to consider: Suppose a close friend of yours unexpectedly loses her job. This certainly qualifies as a crisis! She is angry, frightened and hurt emotionally. Her need for your support goes beyond the usual social contact that you both enjoy. Her crisis makes the need at once more immediate and less flexible than usual.
In response to her crisis, you are called to find time to be a good friend right now – not tomorrow or next Friday, when you might actually have free time. So, what can you do?
3 Timely Tips for Crisis Situations
1. First, it is important to be aware of your own feelings about the crisis.
You need to find time to understand how you feel about this event before you can provide support to your friend. Do you feel obligated? Do you feel pressured? Do you feel guilty thinking about how the need to support your friend will complicate your planned activities?
The more conflicted you feel, the more difficult it is to provide support for your friend in crisis.So, when a crisis hits, start finding the time to be the friend you’d like to be by clearing your mind of all sense of obligation or guilt. These don’t provide a good base for responding to the situation.
2. The next step is to be realistic about what you can do in the context of your existing commitments.
Don’t create expectations that you may not be able to meet. Scan your schedule and take a look at your priorities. Once you have considered your own feelings, you have the clarity to realign your plans and respond to your friend’s crisis from a clean, grounded place. You will then be able to balance being the friend you’d like to be with accomplishing what you need to do.
3. Your presence is what counts!
When you respond to a friend in crisis, remember that offering your undivided, unhurried attention with genuine caring always provides more support and relief than ‘sacrificing’ more extensive time while feeling distracted, resentful and over-extended. Your authentic and warm presence is a gift that helps in ways that are very meaningful and sustaining.
Crisis times are always going to be disturbing and disruptive. But, to the extent that you can find time to connect with yourself and stay grounded, you will be able to respond rather than react to what is happening. This is very helpful energy to bring to a crisis, or to any challenging situation.
© Copyright 2012 Paula Eder, Ph.D.