Five ways to think your way out of a crisis

Author Gavin Grift offers his thinking from the CrisisID program

Consider the word ‘crisis’, and your mind may turn to COVID-19, and the havoc it’s wreaking on our freedoms, finances and future plans.

But crises can appear in different guises throughout our lives – from a death in the family, to a divorce, financial collapse or a sudden job loss.

There are also many personal crises that can be triggered by smaller bumps in the road, such as not getting that promotion or experiencing problems with a colleague.

The good news? While you can’t prevent life’s ups and downs, you can control the way you react.

Here’s five tips to start thinking and acting differently.

1.The first thing to do in a crisis? Pause

When something bad happens, it’s natural to have a knee jerk reaction. Instead, I suggest you hit the pause button.

Give yourself the opportunity to stop and process what’s happened, or still happening. Write down how you’re feeling, or talk to someone you trust who will help you work out what you think you should do.

2.Determine the danger

Before committing to an action plan, face the problem head-on.

For instance, when COVID-19 first hit, my partner and I sat down to take stock of our situation. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

Number one: we could die. Or we could lose both of our businesses and have to sell our house, so we’d have to move in with mum.

We just named it, and said if this is the worst-case scenario we’ll still have our family, and a roof over our heads. That was liberating.

So pinpoint the exact difficulties you’re facing. If it’s coronavirus causing you grief, what’s worrying you the most? Is it paying the mortgage, keeping your business afloat?

3.Recognise your thinking process

When you’re facing intense difficulty, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or hopeless.

Homeschooling, for example, has proven an almighty challenge for many parents during 2020 – and it’s even more difficult if you’re holding yourself to unrealistically high standards.

Instead, try to accept the situation for what it is, and stop judging yourself. And take a moment to consider the story you’re telling yourself about it.

4.Explore the ‘what-ifs’?

Once you’ve come to grips with the problems, you can start to consider different options to tackle them.

Say you work as a freelance writer, but lose most of your clients in one hit due to the pandemic.

Rather than falling into a blind panic, what are some of the opportunities that might be available to you, if you were thinking about it in an optimistic sense?

Could you build up a new base of freelance clients, write a book, join a writer’s group?

Paint yourself a detailed mental picture of what success might sound and feel like for you.

5.Make decisions and take action

Once you’ve carefully considered all options, it’s time to make some firm decisions. The more the decision excites you, the more likely it’ll leave you feeling optimistic and energetic.

In times of crisis, big or small, it’s easy to freeze and do nothing. But even a small investment in time and effort to learn how to change your current way of thinking can reap enormous personal and professional

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