I had a phone call from a family member that I love dearly, they are going through a really rough time. This got me thinking about how we handle a crisis in life and business. We all have a fight or flight response that is instinctual to us as humans. It was how our ancestors dealt with predators who were trying to eat us for dinner.
I enjoy walking for exercise and peace of mind, one morning on my walk, a coyote came bounding towards me on the sidewalk. My heart raced and my first instinct was to turn and run. Instead, I jumped up on a park bench and waived my arms around above my head. The coyote turned and ran into the woods when he saw my crazy moves. My brain made a super fast calculations that this was the smarter move.
Our brains are like a fabulous machine that can make super fast calculations on our behalf.
When YOU are faced with a huge crisis, how do you respond?
Fight? Raise your voice? or Worse your Fists?
Flight? Turn and walk away? Quit your job? Quit your business?
When a Loved One Comes to You in a Crisis, How do You help?
Fight or Flight or Figure it Out
Supporting loved ones as they go through a change feels like a roller coaster. The twists and turns come out of nowhere and it can feel overwhelming. This is because most of us are fixers – this is a perfectly normal response to have. If your loved one is facing a crisis that looks like a problem, it is natural to want to help fix things so everyone can feel safe and calm again. The problem is, some things can not be fixed for the other person, they must be navigated through to the other side.
You can support your loved ones during a difficult crisis and help them figure out solutions.
But first keep these things in mind when helping a loved one to manage difficult crisis.
- Your emotional stability
- Your ability to listen well
- Your patients and kindness
Be a Rock
If the issue at hand is a tough one, the best thing you can do is show up with strength. This is not the time to let yourself be overcome with emotions. If you go into crisis mode with your loved one then you are operating in fight or flight mode as well. It’s also not about you. It’s about your loved one. Don’t share how angry or happy you would be based on their decisions. There is a time and a place for your own self-care. When supporting loved ones through challenging change, they will do better if you are emotionally stable and level-headed.
Practice the Art of Listening
It might be your nature to do things, but it serves your loved one best if you set aside doing and focus on listening. A lot of the processes associated with change include stages of overwhelm, anger, depression, and accepting what is happening. During each part of the process, your loved one will benefit from verbally sorting things out. Don’t put too much emphasis on what is being said because they may change their minds often as they sort things out. Focus on being present and being an excellent listener.
Don’t Rush Things
Everyone has their own timeline for healing or adjusting to big changes. It’s important not to set an expectation for your loved one to move on, get over things, or adjust. If an unreasonable amount of time has passed, suggest some outside help like counseling or coaching as a way to provide additional support. Slow down and resist the urge to expect them to be better on your timeframe, it’s an unfair expectation.
Switch Quickly to a Figure it Out Mentality
After listening carefully to your loved one, help them switch from the fight or flight basic instincts to a figure it out mentality. Help them see problems like puzzles to figure out rather than something to get into a conflict over or run away from. Remind them of some specific situtations they have come shining through and how they have the skills and knowledge to cope with this current situation.
Don’t Broadcast your Loved One’s Problems to the World
Last, but not least, keep your loved ones privacy in mind. You may not see any harm in sharing the problems of your loved one on social media or with everyone you know but if they don’t want a private issue made public keep the details to yourself.
Helping Them Fight or Flight or Figure it Out
Watching a loved one navigate a difficult crisis can be harder than going through it yourself. The urge to make things better can be overwhelming. Resist the urge to jump in and fix everything for them and instead practice supportive actions that provide stability and grace.