COPING WITH DISASTER: CREATING OPPORTUNITY FROM CRISIS

 
                       No man can make you feel inferior without your consent."<?xml:namespace prefix = o />
                                                        Eleanor Roosevelt
                  "The ablest man I ever met is the man you think you are."
                                                         Franklin D. Roosevelt
 
Several years ago, you made a choice and accepted a position in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />your current community with a large firm. Perhaps you came with a ready-made family; or married and began one in the area. Soon, the family became entrenched in the various institutions of the community-- education, religion, service and health organizations, charities, and children's activities. The firm had poured the foundation on which you built a stable future. So it seemed. Until one day, the firm decided to tighten its belt and shed excess weight: You!
 
Suddenly, an economic crisis consumed your world-- including that firm foundation.  As capricious and desctructive as a tornado, a "resource action" swept through your life, engulfing everything in it's path, leaving only chaos and remnants of a once hopeful and prosperous lifestyle. You felt devastated by the dissemination of years' work in relatively no time. Convinced you had failed, you sat motionlessly contemplating your frail mortality. In the scheme of things-- the universe of possibilities-- your existence was now virtually imperceptible. The initial shock waves are but harbingers of the conflicting emotions to come:
·        1- Denial, "This is not really happening-- things will straighten out, you'll see."
·        (2) Confusion, "What do I do now?"
·        (3) Anxiety, "I can't sleep, eat, think clearly-- I feel out of control."
·        (4) Anger, "I believed they were the 'Rock of Gibraltar.' How could this happen?!"
·        (4) Fear. "How will I feed my family?"
·        (5) Depression, "I have let my family down; I'm a failure. It's hopeless. There are no jobs out there!"
·        (6) Burnout, a cumulative experience of building negative emotions that can diminish your ability to perform. A reaction to the stress that results from the realization that a desired outcome was not achieved; that for the moment, you have your feet firmly planted in mid-air!
 
Without a doubt, the perilous effects of a sudden job loss are felt by all members of the family. The situation is often exacerbated when adults at work and children at school amplify their uncertainties by seeking out others who are in the same position. When people experience negative emotions, they frequently seek comfort in others who are experiencing the same. The belief underlying this phenomenon is knowing "you are not alone."  Though "group grieving" is comforting for awhile, one day, the realization strikes that creditors offer no discounts for knowing others who are also unable to pay; and then, comfort changes to ir<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />ritation.  It's time to do something else.
 
Still bewildered and frightened, one may ask, “What can else can be done?” Tough times call for tough decisions! Often, when you are feeling a variety of devastating emotions, it is difficult to simply abandon them in service of doing something constructive, positive. Have you ever felt "down" and then had someone tell you, "Think positive, for a change"? To which you would retort, "Easy for you to say!" But what if that first person then followed with, "Thank you"? Actually, 'thank you' would be the response of choice. When you can consider, "Easy for you to say", a complement, things are truly looking up! That's when you are ready to convert a crisis to an opportunity. How can you accomplish this?
·        1)- Trust in the past…of someone else. Others have been there before you. Seeking out others who have suffered is temporarily comforting. Seeking out those who have suffered, then became resourceful in overcoming adversity is more worthwhile! Find someone who experienced, then conquered the stress of job loss. Study that person carefully. What kinds of internal experiences-- pictures, sounds, feelings--did he (she) have? Don’t hesitate to ask that question.  It may confuse someone at first, but positive internal experiences are worth modeling! What was the sequence of behaviors in which he engaged on the "outside?" For example, did he seek advice from employment specialists, first? Or did he first engage in personal motivators such as physical exercise? Were family discussions an integral part of the success formula? What did he do next? How did he know to do that instead of something else? Then model as much of this behavior as you find useful.
·        2) Trust in the past…yours! When in your personal history were you motivated to achieve something of value (completely unrelated to the present crisis)? How were you able to do that back then? Was there a time when you needed to be unusually creative? How about energetic? What was that like? Consider these events, thoroughly...patiently.
·        3). To get going, begin at the end.  How many times have you driven your car with no particular destination in mind? More than likely, you have already decided your destination before entering the vehicle. And you did that by creating an internal experience-- a picture, perhaps--of the end point. Do the same in this instance: Experience already having landed a particular job. What would that look like? Feel like? For example, suppose having been trained by IBM, you wish to open a computer software business. Where would you locate it? Anybody else involved? How would your inventory appear? Can you get in touch with the feeling of opening day? Perhaps you would rather work for another company. Where? Can you imagine yourself talking to a prospective employer about your job responsibilities?
·        4) Hire a foreman for the job search: The Master List. You make lists all the time-- groceries, call backs, guests. These mini-lists-- in the form of yellow slips of paper everywhere-- can be consolidated into one page, organized by categories of required tasks called a "Master List." When you create a master list to manage your activities you spend time; when you rely on your memory to do the same, you waste time!
 
Use your calendar to schedule appointments with yourself to complete work-- just as if you had a deadline with someone else to do the same. Make, "think positive", easy for you to say by considering the present crisis an occasion for a golden opportunity!