How many times have you been through a major disaster? Most of us go through quite a few, at least by time we are grown up. What was it like for you?
How many time has your heart been broken? This is usually our first disaster. Often feels like the end of the world. In a way it is, being our first awakening to really unpleasant reality.
All Shapes and Sizes
Disasters come in many sizes, shapes and degrees. Financial loss, death of someone close, a major health crisis, a messy divorce, betrayal by a friend, getting fired, being cheated big time… to name a few. There are many others.
The worst part of any disaster is its effect on your emotions. One way or other you are usually reduced to emotional rubble. What has happened is that your world has been destroyed. Not necessarily your physical world, but your emotion world, your instinctual knowledge of what is and what isn’t, a kind of map that you carry in your brain.
You know instinctively, without thinking about it, what to expect in any given situation. You respond automatically when someone smiles at you, and you respond automatically when someone gives you a hard time. You know what to expect as you drive to work, and you know what to expect when you get there. Just as you know just about what will happen when you come home later. All of this awareness is subconscious. You don’t think about it. But this interior awareness is always with you. It automatically guides you through every day, leaving you free to think about whatever is important.
Disaster causes a major rift in your inner map. All of a sudden the familiar is unfamiliar. You have lost your bearings. Suddenly the world seems treacherous and unpredictable. You lose confidence in others, and in yourself. This is very uncomfortable emotionally, and often physically as well.
So what to do when disaster strikes? First step is to give yourself time to recover. Realize that you are emotionally impaired, and expect wide emotional swings. Allow them to happen. You may go along for a while feeling almost normal, and then plunge suddenly into grief. This will happen for a while.
Next, get support. As much as you can. Friends, therapists, support groups, sympathetic relatives. Hang out with supportive people. You will find this both comforting and healing. Find books and articles on the subject. Read them and follow their advice. Here’s an example:
I have personally been through any number of disasters. A good friend cheated me out of a lot of money. My wife left me for another man, then returned to me only to die of cancer. A company I started failed and cost me a bundle. I have been fired from so many jobs that I have lost count. I have been dumped by many women I loved, starting at age 17. It’s been interesting.
What did I learn from all this? First and most important, I survived. Not just survived but am happy. You will be too. But it will take time.
Next, I got all the support I could find. The worse was when my wife left me. At one time I had two private therapists and was also in group therapy. I hung out with friends and family as much as possible. After a six week hiatus I was able to go back to work. After three months I was functioning fairly decently.
Most important; keep in mind that you will recover, and that you are in the act of recovering right now. It may not feel like it, but you are truly strong and capable.
When we know the truth, we can be happy… no matter what. Part of learning the truth is accessing resources to help. Check out my book, The Happiness Handbook on Amazon today.