Welcome to Your Crisis: How to Use the Power of Crisis to Create the Life You Want
By Laura Day
This book is about starting new lives. Why do we start a new life? Because we are in crisis with our old life.
Is your life in crisis? How would you know?
I ask because our crises don't always present themselves as emergencies. We usually think of crisis in big, dramatic terms-even a major positive event in our life can cause a crisis-but many crises in our lives go unrecognized, mistaken for something else. At least emergencies are obvious; they demand our immediate attention.
Most life crises are more subtle, much harder to recognize-but no less dangerous to our well-being. A seemingly tranquil life can mask an acute existential crisis.
The following questions will help you identify whether there is a crisis in your life.
- Is something important-pleasure, success, a relationship-missing your life?
- Do you want to change something in your life, but you don't know-how?
- Are you feeling "out of place" or "not yourself'? Are you feeling "stuck"?
- Are you more irritable lately with people around you?
- Are you feeling resentful about minor upsets?
- Have you suffered a loss?
- Have you had a recent change (either good or challenging) that left you feeling disoriented?
- Are you often sad?
- Do you feel overwhelmed?
- Do you remember your dreams rarely, if ever?
- Do you feel hopeless?
- Do things always seem just to go wrong?
- Are you finding it hard to imagine a satisfying future?
- Are you having nostalgic thoughts of the past?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be in crisis. Good. Crisis can be a wonderful place to begin a better life.
One of my favorite client quotes is, "My life is great. I'm the mess!"
If the outward aspects of your life are going well-your job, your relationships, your lifestyle-but the feeling gnaws at you that something is wrong or missing, there's a good chance your life is in crisis.
Much of the pandemic depression so characteristic of modern lives stems from unexpressed crisis. The inner sources of pain, the unexplained emptiness and sadness that we experience. The dead places in our lives.
These feelings are possible signs that your life has entered a crisis stage. The places of "everything" and "nothing" are the at-risk zones for crisis in your life. Listen to what you say casually in conversation. "My marriage is all that I care about," or "I do nothing to keep in shape." Such statements are harbingers of future crises.
What Is a Crisis?
The word crisis derives from the ancient Greek word meaning "to decide." A crisis is a situation that compels you to make a decision. You cannot avoid a crisis by not deciding, for even deciding not to decide is a decision.
The clinical term for any change that overwhelms our ability to handle it effectively, to cope, is trauma. We'll use the simpler word crisis.
A crisis can be caused by a single dramatic event or even by a series of minor assaults accumulating over a long enough time. A crisis can injure us deeply, profoundly altering the way feel about ourselves and seriously undermining our capacity to act effectively.
When a crisis occurs in one area of your life, its impact cascades into every other area. Profound change occurs like that. Let's say you've lost your job. It's not just your livelihood that changes-to a greater or lesser degree, every aspect of your life is affected.
Change-and Crisis-Is a Part of Life
Change occurs in our lives all the time. We can generally handle these everyday changes effectively since they require only minor, incremental adaptations on our part.
Sometimes, however, a radical change occurs in our lives, one we are not equipped to handle effectively: the loss of a job, the breakup of a long-term relationship, a serious illness, a financial setback.
Even without abrupt upheavals, however, the daily accumulation of changes in even the most well-ordered life creates ever-greater challenges. Eventually your old self can no longer function effectively (or experience effectively, because some people function effectively without experiencing joy).
At that point your life has reached a crisis, one whose mounting challenges will force nothing short of a revolution in your being. If that revolution does not occur, your life is cut off, especially from the opportunities around you. In short you live your life permanently and continually in crisis.
There are two basic systems of forward movement: evolution and revolution. Evolution consists of small incremental changes, yet the result can be a complete metamorphosis.
Evolution eventually makes itself obsolete, and the "evolved" being no longer resembles its original structure, no longer fits into the old environment. A baby in the womb would grow too large for its maternal home and die were it not born (if he or she insisted on staying where it was) into a new world, as a new being with new challenges.
Revolution, by contrast, is sudden, shocking, and challenging. It can be thrust upon you, or you can be its catalyst. Revolution asks us to confront what we are not prepared to address. We are required to dig deep and far into ourselves to survive. We make new demands of our friends, community, and family because we have to respond, suddenly and quickly, to new and unfamiliar challenges.
After a revolution is accomplished, a cleanup often remains to be done. This cleanup is a combination of emotional, financial, physical, intellectual, and spiritual processing that can take years after the revolution, the real change, is fully accomplished.