Lessons Learned from a Crisis

Have you found yourself and your family in a challenging situation that is difficult to cope with and is causing stress? It becomes even harder when there are no easy answers or apparent sources of support. 

It could be something totally out of the blue, like a death in the family, a fire in your house, or losing a job. It could also have some good parts, like winning the lottery or being asked to move for a better job. 

Anytime family structure or situations change, there can be challenges with stress. Getting married, having children, starting a new school year, and retiring seem like regular life events. Still, there are adjustments and rearrangements of roles and responsibilities. 

So, while a family crisis is naturally stressful, it is more easily dealt with when everyone has clarity about family values and consistently develops their virtues in a balanced way. Communicating openly and honestly with trust in each other’s support is also helpful in overcoming the immediate situation.

Also helpful is accepting the hardship, using your energy to meet the challenge, and figuring out your options to move forward. Don’t blame each other; be patient and manage your stress. There will always be something you can do to keep some areas of your life as normal as possible. Remain optimistic, acknowledge each other’s strengths, and express your appreciation and love for family members. All of these are good reminders, but there is even more we can do as the crisis eases or is past the critical stage.

There is now an opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and insight from experiencing and handling a crisis. While the experience is often a significant challenge, there can be a silver lining to every crisis: You can emerge from the other side with greater clarity about the essential lessons you’ve learned that can benefit you in future situations. Here are ten lessons learned from a crisis.

Lesson 1. You learn more about your true strengths and where they lie.

Until you are at the forefront of a crisis, you don’t understand how it feels to be the “in charge” person of the moment. People may turn to you during a tense, stressful crisis for guidance or advice. When you are suddenly responsible for mitigating an emergency, you may find yourself acting in new and unexpected ways. 

Crises put our bodies into “fight or flight” mode. Often, when you are the person who must step in to handle the situation, the “flight” option is gone–with others depending on you and watching you, the opportunity to run away is gone. When you decide to “fight” or take action, the stress of a crisis can bring out some previously unknown talents and strengths as your mind and body work together to get you through the problem. 

Lesson 2. You can discover where different areas of your daily life need improvements.

As you analyze a crisis once it’s ended, you can spot different areas of your daily life that need improvements. Unfortunately, people often only recognize problem areas once they have to handle them during a stressful crisis. Those problem areas are extra prominent amid the chaos when you’re ultra-stressed. 

For example, if you’re having issues with your partner, they may be manageable until you’re both flung into a crisis. Then, your arguments and fighting may become insufferable during all that extra stress. After the problem ends, you can evaluate the relationship and see where improvements are needed. 

Lesson 3. You become more aware of yourself and others in your personal space.

A crisis sets people on edge. Family members can experience increased vulnerability, anxiety, and confusion. The stress of everything happening so suddenly is frightening and startling–often, a crisis arises with little to no warning. 

After one of these “surprise” crises, you learn a valuable lesson in self-awareness. By being more aware of yourself and the people around you, you can often detect changes and potential new crises emerging. 

Lesson 4. You appreciate the little things in life a little bit more.

After a crisis rocks your world to its core, you learn to appreciate the little things in life more. Previous superficial desires (like having the fanciest car or buying the nicest house) fall to the wayside during a crisis. After the situation ends, you’ll appreciate your life’s more minor yet priceless aspects, such as relationships. 

Lesson 5. You learn to treat people with a little extra empathy, kindness, and grace.

One of the best resources during a crisis is other people who care and want to help. After your problem ends, you can remember how nice it is to have a kind person on your side. Use that memory to remind yourself to be kind to others experiencing crises. When someone treats you unkindly, you can ask yourself, “I wonder what they are going through?” or “What is happening to them right now?”

Lesson 6. You develop an understanding of what’s truly most important in your life.

A crisis sheds a lot of light on life’s most important aspects. When facing an emergency, many of life’s other little struggles and worries tend to fade away so you can focus on handling the crisis. After a problem subsides, consider what was most important during the most challenging parts of your life, and remember to treasure those parts of your life most. 

Lesson 7. You develop a keener sense of preparedness. 

Future crises can be avoided (or, at the very least, softened) with some preparedness. Coming out of a predicament you weren’t prepared for, you learn to become a “prepper,” or someone who plans for potential future issues. 

Lesson 8. You learn to spend more time caring for your mental health.

You are your own most significant asset. After handling a crisis, you learn a valuable lesson in mental health awareness. Caring for yourself and your mental health is vital since you depend on yourself so much, including getting through life’s most demanding situations. Use this lesson to spend time caring for your mental health–you will feel better and set yourself up for success in a future crisis. 

Lesson 9. You develop more of a “big picture” outlook on life. 

After a crisis, reflect on what happened during the main event. Often, you’ll discover that many different things were happening during the central turmoil—it may even seem like lots of tiny crises were happening concurrently. 

This experience, while unpleasant, can help you approach a future crisis with a “big picture” outlook, meaning you’re paying attention to multiple aspects of a situation at once. 

Instead of focusing solely on the crisis, you’ll be able to maintain some attention on other important things without totally neglecting other aspects of your life during an emergency. Unfortunately, when something terrible happens, other parts of life don’t stop–keeping this “big picture” awareness will help you maintain some balance. 

Lesson 10. You carry away a unique lesson that will help you handle (or even avoid) a similar crisis in the future. 

Being in crisis mode is awful. But, no matter the crisis, you can exit each situation with a new lesson learned and take that knowledge forward with you. So, at the end of every problem, evaluate the events. 

Ask yourself what you experienced, what those experiences taught you, and how you can use that information in a future similar situation.

Use your time now and after difficult times to strengthen family ties, communicate with clarity your family values, and encourage each other as you work to develop the virtues you aspire to. Do things together as a family, plan for fun things and the future, and use your family meetings to appreciate and acknowledge the good in each other as well as solve minor issues. Focus on what you want for your family while using the lessons you have learned from the crisis to grow yourself.

I invite you to sign up for our newsletter. It is a great way to get the Virtue of the Month and tips on relationships, parenting, and self-care. In addition, you’ll be the first to know about upcoming classes for successful families.

To sign up, visit the “Newsletter” section here on the website. Enter your email address, and you’ll receive our newsletter in your inbox on Wednesdays.  I appreciate your interest in bringing out the best in your children and yourself. We look forward to keeping you informed through our newsletter!