“I don’t need advice – I need Help!”
Do you think you qualify for help with your life problems?
Is it only people who live through a natural disaster who face a colossal re-start?
Of course, these natural disaster survivors need help! They require compassion and logistical assistance, perhaps for a long time.
But what about the many people who face life crises, ‘personal disasters,’ alone in their everyday life?
Well, I know something about living through disasters and surviving. And about what it takes to find success on the other side and not let the disaster ‘win.’
My fellow co-founder of this website, Harsh, has seen disaster first-hand.
Years ago, in the north of India, a humanitarian catastrophe was unfolding as the heavens opened and floods engulfed innocent lives.
And a team of citizens worldwide provided assistance during this disaster.
Sometimes though, it’s only in the aftermath that you can start to save people.
Natural disasters are harsh and indiscriminate. Most are unprepared for what is coming their way.
I have lived through three significant bushfires – two of which were the deadliest (in terms of human life) in recent recorded history in my country of birth.
The terror of living with the thought of dying by fire through decades of scorching summers may be one of the many reasons I handle disaster so well.
I am not a special snowflake – so many of you might have faced disaster in some form or another.
I have found that Personal Disasters can be just as impactful on your life and well-being.
Surviving is one thing, but recovery from disaster is another thing altogether.
How do you keep from letting the disaster negatively dominate your life?
What is a ‘Personal Disaster’
Unfortunately, I think most of us know about the power of the earth and natural disasters, if only from news headlines and imagery.
But how do you define a personal disaster?
Essentially the answer is it’s individual. What I define as a ‘disaster’ may not be the same as your definition.
For me, it’s a disaster as my whole world is interrupted, and chaos ensues.
A divorce might be a disaster for some but a welcome relief for others. See- Is divorce a sign of failure or success?
The collapse of careers or businesses can be life-altering. But someone else may see an opportunity and welcome the chaos.
It’s not possible to define someone else’s disaster. We cannot judge or compare the degree or level of someone else’s suffering or pain.
There are many challenges to surviving and recovering well from a personal crisis. Here are a few primary ones that may keep you stuck and prevent your progress-
Mental Exhaustion & Fear
After a long flight, you wouldn’t expect a pilot to turn around and go back immediately.
Because it’s dangerous! When you are tired, you cannot think straight.
What about a long battle or chronic situation which has left you mentally exhausted.
If you have been dealing with a lot or are in the middle of a new crisis, you might face fatigue at some point.
Fatigue and exhaustion can be soul-crushing.
These are not the ideal states to pull yourself out of a crisis.
You may also be fearful – fearful of trying again.
Maybe you have tried and failed before. Falling off the wagon or any type of negative experience while making an effort may make you gun-shy to try again.
And so you remain stuck.
Lack of Vision for the Future
If you have made it through your crisis but remain stuck and unable to recover, there may be a simple reason.
Sometimes, we are so busy just living our life we assume too much. We believe we know who we are and what our future will look like.
Or perhaps we never had the ‘luxury’ of dreaming about the future.
Either way, this lack of vision for yourself – of what you could have for yourself, is another challenge to making things work for you in your post-crisis mode.
If you cannot see where you want to go or what the future could be – a vision – then how will you get there?
This is a significant challenge in my experience and involves you putting yourself first (or at least somewhere in the picture!) – a concept utterly foreign to many people.
As I acknowledge in the book, this could be one of the most demanding challenges anyone can face.
A truly devastating and life-altering experience for those who suffer.
Whether it’s an acute or chronic problem, you will likely face immediate issues that can flow to other areas of your life – relationships, career, finances etc.
I do not promise you will recover. But I try to help those people who make the tiniest of steps towards working out their life priorities with whatever means and skills (and energy) they have left.
It’s not an easy road to travel.
Lack of Skills
I was unexpectedly forced to learn new skills later in life.
However, those ‘new’ skills had almost become redundant within two years due to technological advances! (Volume 2 in the Personal Disaster series will address Finacial and Career Crises).
Whatever your age, abilities or resources, a lack of (or out-of-date) skills can significantly hold people back from a bright recovery after a personal disaster.
It might be the last thing you need if you are exhausted or facing financial difficulties. You might have to do what you can and work slowly towards a new life.
We all need to be adaptable, yet we are not equal in ability or opportunity.
Look out for free courses, friends who can teach you things, experience on the job and good old-fashioned reading.
Being Alone with Your Problem
By far, one of the toughest challenges you may face with a personal crisis is being alone.
And not necessarily physically alone – you may be surrounded by family and friends. But alone with your problem.
No one “gets it.”
Maybe they “get it” but minimise your experiences and feelings. Perhaps they don’t care as much as you hoped or expected.
Or perhaps, as was the case in my recent disaster, your crisis is simply too complicated to comprehend.
No one, single person or organisation can help. – maybe you have to face the fact this fight or crisis will be fought on your own.
Some people are not ready to hear this message. They wait in vain – waiting for the cavalry.
But the cavalry may never appear.
You might have to pick up the pieces alone, and you might never be able to explain to others what you have faced.
I was ‘lucky’ – I was forced to face reality fast. I wasn’t smarter than anyone else. I was a necessity.
And as the saying goes – ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’
So, how did I survive?
Introducing ‘The UnStickler’
The UnStickler is my alter ego – a superhero rescuing the stuck!.
The idea came from an observer who noticed I bounced back quickly from seemingly impossible situations. I didn’t seem to ‘fall.’ I somehow kept going, no matter what happened.
Then I realised why – I had been practising this from a very young age.
It’s not that I don’t have bad days… we all do.
But there appeared to be something different about how I approached my problems.
I was good at getting unstuck – and so The Unstickler was born.
The Unstickler is a problem solver. They don’t care much about talk – they are more about action – what can you do.
And The Unstickler shows up best for the very stuck – those with no help or very complex situations.
The W.I.N.G System
The feature of how I seem to get around my problems is – I do it quickly! By that, I mean I somehow understand the variables very fast, allowing me to figure out a solution.
And so The Unstickler’s W.I.N.G System evolved. It’s a simple four-part series of questions to help you identify what’s happening and how to get out!
Whenever I am stuck, I can think of ‘WING’ and how to fly myself out of trouble!
It has to be simple – no complicated theories or reasoning. (You can read about that once you are safe and well).
W.I.N.G stands for – What you have; what’s Impossible to change; What you Need; and finally, how to Get what you need.
Identifying these elements allowed me to break down an enormous insurmountable crisis into a way out.
WHAT do you have?
This first step helps you orient yourself away from hopelessness. If you come at the solution to your crisis from the angle of what you don’t have, it may seem too hard.
I was falling at the first hurdle – I kept thinking about what I didn’t have. It wasn’t working.
Instead, I started to think about what I did have access to.
For example, you might have:
- – health
- – knowledge
- – experience
- – contact with friends
- – money
- – accommodation
- – children
- – a job
Or anything that you can ‘use’ or has value to your situation (this list will be different for everyone).
What is IMPOSSIBLE to change (now)
This might be the most critical step in the process.
Sometimes we can get stuck on unfairness, injustice, grief, resentment and a host of legitimate grievances or things we can’t change.
We usually cannot change laws (not in the middle of a crisis, anyway). You can try that afterwards if you like!
We cannot often change people’s perceptions.
There are just some things that we put an enormous amount of precious energy into – that get us absolutely nowhere but backwards!
Life is not fair, and neither are some rules and laws or severe health diagnoses. But accepting these things, acknowledging the reality, and moving past were vital for my survival.
You may feel temporarily great by fighting against reality or for ‘justice’, but it won’t feel great when you realise you could have been far down the path toward your own recovery instead.
What you NEED
This step asks you to identify your needs, and this is not as easy as it sounds.
Firstly, some people get confused between their wants and needs.
This is not for me to tell what these are – your needs in this crisis or recovery situation are personal.
Buy, try and be specific – this is about what you need to get out of a crisis (not necessarily that massage on an island that I know we both need!).
Focus on a more minor issue within the more significant crisis.
For example –“I need more money” might be broken down to “I need to pay off one debt so I can move to a better location for work.”
How to GET what you need.
The final part of the system is to work out the How – Exactly how we will achieve this great plan!
This step is where I kept looking for someone to tell me what to do! How to save me.
But it may never come, so you need to work out how to get your needs.
This is an excellent step to complete, even if you have been advised and received direction from others. Is what they are saying actually even achievable?
(Examples of common personal crises and how they can be tackled using the W.I.N.G System are outlined in Volume 1 of Personal Disaster).
Personal Disaster (Volume 1) – The Unstickler’s Guide to Handling a Life Crisis
The books in the Personal Disaster series are being developed to be Easy to Read. They are short and to the point. They are based on years of experience and real-life problem-solving.
They are particularly useful for those who are alone and cannot find appropriate help. However, they offer a simple system for anyone facing a personal crisis or complicated life problem.
I know it’s not easy coming back from a setback. I know you will face blocks along the way. I know it may test everything you have. But I think there’s hope for you too.
Jennifer is the co-founder of menPsyche. She holds an Applied Science degree in Public Health & Health Promotion and authored the ‘Personal Disaster’ book series.
Jennifer has a vast range of experience across many domains, including extensive international exposure.