It’s Monday and I’m ready for the weekend!

October 26, 2009 at 8:27 pm Leave a comment

This afternoon I returned home from a four-day seminar. As usual, it was intense. (It’s a three-year program and we meet roughly once a month for an extended weekend.) This weekend the focus was on crisis intervention.

During the course of my short life (not quite half a century), I’ve had a fair amount of crises. Just as the theory tells us, each time I came out stronger. There is much to be gained through each crisis.

Every day we are confronted with crisis — on varying levels. The trainer mentioned a mini-mini-crisis, and a colleague said, “Oh, mmc!” Thus we have a new code for text messaging among colleagues.

With my typical above-it-all attitude, I went there thinking that all of my survived crises would give me an edge on the weekend. An added bonus. What I didn’t expect was the insight that I am in the middle of a big crisis.

True, through moving out I ended the long-term crisis of a dysfunctional marriage, but the adjustment is already the next crisis! It is important not to judge myself or the situation as positive or negative. Each crisis offers a unique opportunity for development.

During the course of the weekend, I learned to recognize my coping patterns, my special form of crisis management. First the focus was on: “How to successfully entrench myself in a crisis and prolong it”. That had more to do with my previous habits, as I have made progress over the past few years.

Then the focus moved toward development of a more appropriate set of steps. In my case, the first step is to acknowledge: “I have a crisis!” Since my tendency is to suffer alone and figure it all out mysef, a helpful step is to reach out for support. Isolation is not the answer. Nor is reaching out a sign of weakness.

A sense of perspective is helpful. When I view the crisis as an opportunity or gift from the universe rather than one more blow of fate, I am more apt to evaluate my resources and possible steps.

My tendency was to say: “Oh, others have it worse. It’s not THAT bad. It could be worse.” etc. Comparison is not the answer. A crisis is a crisis, regardless of what other people are going through. How many years did I observe other married couples and think, “Gee, we aren’t so bad off after all!”

At the end of the seminar, I finally dealt with an issue (an “mmc”) that started last February during the very first weekend seminar, and has grown immensely since then. There is someone in the class who oversteps my boundaries — regarding both physical proximity as well as verbally. Until today my strategy was to avoid her, not smile when she addressed me, and step back when she came too close. But for every step I took backwards, she took one forwards.

What happened? I told her I feel threatened when she comes so close and that I have avoided her because of it. I said she assumed an intimacy (because we have the same employer, but work in completely different areas) that was not comfortable for me. I had given the issue a lot of thought over the past months and realized: it is not new. I have experienced it before.

I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but knew I needed to address the issue. During plenum she said something about her family situation, and I responded. Then it clicked: If enough space is there, I can indeed reach out to her. But not when she suffocates me.

So we talked. She thanked me for my openness and admitted that she has a big problem with boundaries — often having trouble defining her own. What a relief! She wasn’t insulted at all! As we walked back to join the others, I noticed she gave me enough space and didn’t walk so close to me. And when we said our goodbyes, she kept a distance as well.

What relief! Now we can start over and work out a comfortable distance between us — or proximity. So I learned once again, it is helpful to address stressful issues with people. Dealing with the situation can bring immense relief!

This was definitely not a huge crisis, but by facing this smaller one, I am practicing for the biggies! The only dependable thing in life is change, and that is inevitably connected to crisis. When things don’t go quite as I expected, I thank God for the gift — even for the bicycle accident last year. That is a true change in attitude. I’m still working on the management part of it.

In any case, I am exhausted. Luckily I have the day off tomorrow.

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Entry filed under: changing my behavior. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Thursday (almost Friday) P.S. Crisis

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