Show Notes:

Welcome to Hello Rebecca Ray, our collective home for courage, growth and human to human connection. I’m your host, Dr. Rebecca Ray, human, clinical psychologist, author, and educator. I know only too well how fear, comparison, and self-doubt can stifle your potential. This podcast is all about brave and meaningful living, and how you can make your authentic contribution to the world today and everyday.

Hi, lovely ones. Welcome to Episode 70. Can you believe that we are at episode 70? Maybe you’re like, yeah, I totally can Beck. I can’t. That’s 70 episodes, good consistency, Beck, good consistency. I want to dive into a piece from my first book Be Happy: 35 Powerful Methods for Personal Growth and Well-Being which was published just after or just before I can’t remember now, just after or just before I had my baby Bennett, who’s now four would you believe. This was my first book and it has some really great nuggets in it. One of which I want to read to you today, which is making space for crises. The reason I am choosing this for today is because I have a number of people around me in crisis at the moment. Friends who were seeking support, and it made me think that it’s just something that we just can’t avoid in life, experiencing crisis. You know, there’s so many things that just occur in life outside of our control. And it can be really helpful to have a sense of resilience to be able to approach crises when they occur, and also to have some tips that you can take with you for the next time that a crisis occurs in your own life.

So this piece starts with a quote from Sheryl Sandberg that says, I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice, you can give into the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe, or you can try to find meaning. I wish I could say that if you did all the right things, and you were simply a good person life would reward you accordingly, with a smooth path and good weather. Although this wish is the stuff of rainbows and unicorns, our brains do have a way of unfairly cushioning the task of living with uncertainty, injustice and tragedy in the world. You see, to live comfortably, humans make cognitive assumptions to ease their sense of threat. These assumptions include the world is a safe and predictable place. Good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Bad things are more likely to happen to others than to me. And overall, I am a good person. These assumptions help us to feel safer while going about our daily lives. But they aren’t always accurate, obviously, because the very nature of a crisis is that it’s unexpected. It violates these assumptions and compromises our physical and or psychological safety. It makes us question our footing and place in difficult and tragic things. It reminds us that sometimes life will happen to us and we need to find a way to cope. Even though crises are going to occur, I’m not actually suggesting that we prepare for them. I’m not suggesting that we live in a future that’s going to be disastrous, like people with post-traumatic stress disorder often do. Instead, I’m suggesting that we accept that life isn’t always the way we’d like it to be. And that when crises show up, we make space for them without fighting or flailing out against the experience and therefore making it worse. It’s what we do with our circumstances that defines us, not the circumstances themselves. It’s about knowing that our circumstances are not our identity, and that we are strong enough to cope. It’s a process of backing yourself and your decisions, rather than imagining what you could have done differently. How we approach what we can and can’t control determines our experience. It’s worth noting that we can’t always know the duration or intensity of a crisis. Some crises such as a fender bender, are over in a day and require a sprint like approach to coping and problem solving. Others are long term and require marathon effort and energy such as caring for a loved one with a terminal illness. A crisis might demand more energy from you at different stages, the start might look different from the middle, and the end might be followed by an aftermath. But hopefully, you can make enough room in your life to deal with this mess without uprooting your identity or peace of mind.

How to make a habit of making space for crises. This can’t happen, you say, but a crisis can and it might. Here’s how to make room for it. Look after yourself. Take a breath. Take timeout when you can. Return to the basics of eating, sleeping, and taking care of yourself as well as possible. Allow your experience to be what it is. Don’t judge your experience. Don’t force it to be something other than what it is. And don’t try to avoid or deny the fact that it’s happening. Reach out. We can’t always think clearly in a crisis. And help from someone we trust can bring some perspective. Seek support if you need it. Expecting to survive a crisis alone puts unnecessary pressure on yourself. Take Action, especially in the case of a long-term crisis. Give yourself a break from working towards your major life goals. Instead, focus on the next step that you need to take to be effective in the present moment. Sometimes that’s doing the thing that will help you tread water rather than sink. And sometimes that’s the thing that will help you to swim forward. If you have crises happening in your life at the moment, I’m sending you so much love and courage. I hope this peace from Be Happy: 35 Powerful Methods of Personal Growth and Well-Being, my first book is helpful to create some space for you right now. If you want to get your hands on the book, you can do so at all major retailers or good bookstores who still have it on their shelves. And I definitely know that it’s available from Amazon. I’ll catch you very shortly for the next episode of Hello Rebecca Ray.

Lovely ones. Thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray. If you’ve got something meaningful from this episode, and the most meaningful thing you can do is jump on over to wherever you listen to your podcast episodes and leave a review. Because it’s those reviews that help this podcast stay. Make sure to subscribe, and if you’re generous enough to share this episode, thank you so much. I love seeing your shares on social media. So please tag me, catch you next time.