How crisis is largely defined by your perception of the situation.
You can use this knowledge to turn the tides into alignment with yourself instead.
There is a German proverb that goes, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is”. When something earth-shattering occurs, we usually panic as part of a natural reaction. Yet, how much of the fear response is truly befitting of the situation? As humans, we are blessed with the power of imagination and foresight, but this can easily become a curse if not mindfully managed. For instance, we could be overthinking the issue totally out of proportion. Perhaps it’s worth taking a step back sometimes and reflecting on whether we are making mountains out of molehills.
Before we dissect this phenomenon, I’d like to talk a bit about perception. Perception is the lens that we see the world through and varies greatly from person to person. Two people that witness the same spectacle could report varying accounts, or be impacted differently. Its arbitrary nature can cause individuals to interpret an event as negative or positive regardless of the general consensus, and even this is very vulnerable to change.
Why is this so? We can trace back and find that the answer lies in how perception is formed in the first place. For most people, the foundations are steeped in the culture and beliefs of their community and authority or parental figures. These values would usually be ingrained at an early age, before they even develop reasoning or a deeper awareness. It is through these initial guidelines that a little child uses, like tools, to navigate and make sense of their otherwise strange and foreign environment. An inner compass and frame of understanding begins to develop which is used to process new information, fitting it into an existing ecosystem of data.
We can see how this creates a learning loop where consciousness, i.e. self-awareness, keeps snowballing as it is being exposed to more stimuli. While growing, the various layers are always dependent on what came before it, thus there is only subjective depiction, no objective, set-in-stone truths in this area of discussion.
"While self-awareness might be altered later on in life due to changes in personal development, it still serves as a backdrop for the way a person’s mind works."
It also means that this is what’s within our reign of control, regardless of what happens on the outside.
Let’s say something significant interrupts the direction of how things have been working. The impact is transformative and irreversible; nothing is ever the same as how it was before. As there are no salvageable aspects, the only way here is forward onto new plains. Nobody can say for sure if this is a good or bad turn of events simply based on observing the occurrence; we can only draw that conclusion when attitudes and sentiments have been formed because the result is contingent on these factors.
We can thus infer that crises comprise primarily of how we respond and how we have been primed to receive the information, rather than the incident itself. The kind of thoughts prompted at this stage would inspire action of a similar nature, and it is through these that will determine the upcoming future. If we had chosen to recognise this episode as an opportunity, we would have cultivated a fertile environment for fresh ideas, which could quite possibly prompt a revamp of the entire framework into one that is better than how it was before.
This is the mindset of many successful people. They have mastered the art of detecting silver linings in all kinds of unexpectedly frightening scenarios. Once they have crafted a rough action plan and identified their North Star amidst the haze, they can quickly worm their way out of the chaos and begin building from the rubble.
Conversely, if we had adopted a negative, defeatist mindset, the kind of actions (or lack thereof) spurred from these thoughts would inevitably lead us into a black hole. Unlike what some may think, they are not so much victims of circumstance during a crisis, because the truth is that they likely contributed to the crisis in ways they have not become aware of yet. Interestingly, these concrete examples illustrate that most outcomes are directly realised from our decisions and choices… which are again, born from our perception!
So, I know it’s all up to how I want to see the situation, but if I can’t help but feel scared, what do I do next?
Yes, of course sometimes it’s really easier said than done. Although we may understand the concept of perception, internalising and applying it when needed is a whole other ball game altogether. Perhaps when the crisis is at its peak and we are unable to shift your views on it, we can continue to see it as an obstacle, but one that’s a challenge we’re supposed to overcome. In such a setting, we need to gather resolve.
Resolve is the strength that helps us do what’s necessary even when we’re terrified of what’s to come. It’s the purpose we hold on to, the desire to achieve what’s on the other side of the fear which should not be underestimated – If we are deeply committed to our cause, this can give us courage we never knew we had.
Just because we may not be able to relinquish our negative feelings this time round does not indicate that we cannot overcome this hurdle. Feeling scared is part of being human, it means that there are stakes that we care about and certain interests we can’t afford to lose. But sometimes, these have to be put on the line for the sake of a much bigger goal that lies ahead. In this world it’s near impossible to have everything; We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We have to know what you are truly fighting for, and stay devoted to it as a driving force, especially when altering our perception is out of the question.
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We need to know that no matter what, there is a reservoir of personal power within ourselves that shapes a notable deal of our world… and only we are able to tap into it. Although many people forget that they have more control than they think they do, I want to remind you right now that we have this special ability.
“If you want to change the world, change yourself”. This famous quote by Mohandas Gandhi asserts that as a singular individual, we are never inconsequential or sequestered because everything is interconnected. Like in a kaleidoscope, when one fractal shifts, all of them will assume new positions, collectively forming a fresh pattern. Unwittingly, seemingly little things we do can culminate in great impact.
In my book, Big Jump Into Crisis Ready Mindset, follow the misadventures of seven plucky characters as they weather their way through tribulations and emerge triumphant. The formula – Perception, resolve, changing themselves and more as covered in this blog post, is a universal one across all kinds of crises, but the real secret lies in their personal approaches on how they managed to get themselves into that mental flow.