How to thrive during upheaval

crisis thriving upheaval Jun 29, 2021

Illness strikes. A loved one dies. A pandemic persists. The economy shifts. You lose your job.


Let’s face it, upheaval happens whether you’re ready or not. For some people, they crumble at the first hint of shifting sands. Others somehow manage to use a disaster to their benefit and succeed, even when things look their worst.  


Which are you? Do you crumble or thrive? Use these eight proven techniques, and you’ll come out on top every time.


1. Give Yourself a Break

Why are you expecting so much of yourself right now? When in crisis, recognize you’re not going to have all the answers, at least not as it unfolds. Take a step back and acknowledge that making decisions without enough information is hard and confusing. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself some time. This will help you to relax and start thinking creatively.


2. Anticipate Fear

Know this is scary. Upheaval is all about sudden change with lack of control, and initially you may well find yourself floundering as you plot a path within it. Experiencing fear is expected in this kind of situation. It’s what you do with it, that matters. Knowing what is important to you and protecting that enables you to anticipate fear without giving in to it.


3. Breathe

In that moment where you realise upheaval is inevitable, take a breath, before you do anything. In through your nose and gently out through your nose. Let it out slow, then take another. First reactions usually aren’t the best ones. By taking time to breathe, you’re giving yourself a bit of time to figure out how best to respond. By creating some space you can then choose how to respond, inevitably that will better reflect who you are and how you want to be experienced.


4. Accept

So, this wasn’t what you wanted. Upheaval is rarely what people wish for. Rather than fight against the change that is occurring, try to embrace it as an opportunity to learn something; either about yourself, others, or the situation itself. Often upheaval provides us with an opportunity to evaluate and declutter, perhaps that’s the learning you need to take from the situation.


5. Rewrite the Narrative

Without being disingenuous about the situation, how are you talking about the situation to yourself and others? What words are you using to talk about the crisis? Is this a ‘disaster’ or an ‘unscheduled adventure’? Look for a more positive way to redefine the situation so that you are no longer ignoring it or trying to push it away. A more positive description of the situation can make it easier to embrace or get curious about it.


6. Drop the Negativity

Talking about reframing, what’s your self-talk about the situation right now? Getting caught up in negativity is unhelpful here. Instead of beating yourself up about your response, praise yourself for your courage in facing the upheaval with a positive attitude.


7. Practice Change

Get used to the idea of doing things differently by practicing change in small and safe ways. Adjust how you do some of your everyday tasks, such as changing the commute to work by getting off at a stop earlier or driving a different route. These small acts of change help your brain to build flexibility and it lays some of the groundwork needed when you have to deal with extensive changes to handle a crisis.


8. Know You’ve Got This

Most important of all, remind yourself you’ve been through other disasters and survived. Consider those previous upheavals and reflect on how you got through them. What did you do, who did you call etc. Know that you’re going to be just fine so long as you hang in there. You’ve got this!


Success, even in the wake of disaster, never happens by chance. It takes intentionality to come out on top. By integrating these techniques into your day-to-day, you’ll not only survive the upheaval, but you’ll become one of those people who thrive in adversity.

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