Here are 10 things I learned about people in distress from my time as a crisis negotiator;
- Life can be hard - Life is different for all of us. What is challenging for one person is a joy for another. Never disparage how the other person is reacting to a particular situation, for them it is as bad as your worst fear.
- It's never one thing - There is always more than one thing going on in our lives, that's the way life is. Chances are if things are going well, there will be lots of good things going on in your life. Conversely, if one bad thing is happening, there's a high possibility that other bad things are happening simultaneously. And, when we are thinking about that one bad thing, we will be reminded of the other bad things which multiply that one thing.
- It's always something personal - Ultimately, what tends to take people down is something in their personal life, something that has stabbed them square in the heart, hurting them dearly. That is where the main difference occurs between each of us, what is personal to you may not be so personal to me.
- Everything seems insurmountable - It is difficult to envisage how distressed someone is if you have never been there or you are currently in a good place yourself. If you have ever had a frightening experience, regardless of what it was, imagine that same feeling happening to you continuously, without abating. Now double that feeling by thinking of another time when you were afraid. Now add something sad to those feelings.
- They are sensitive to the world around them - If I could identify one commonality with those I have spoken with who were in the mire, it is that they are sensitive to life. They feel with greater intensity, they ruminate over mistakes thinking of how they might have hurt someone. When someone shares a personal story with them, they take on the same emotions that the other person is feeling.
- It's the hardest thing that they will ever do - moving on from disappointments and from life is the most difficult thing they will ever do. We are asking them to forget their emotions, to bury their feelings, to dismiss everything that they have ever felt, to think logically when logic has long gone, to ignore their life.
- We are stronger than we think we are - Have you ever amazed yourself at how well you did when you took on a challenge? Are you in a place now where you had never thought you would ever get to? Do you have something that you never thought you would ever have? We are better than we think we are, we just need to remind ourselves of it. Continually.
- Only you can help yourself - People can support you, people can encourage you, people can assist you, people can give you ideas, but only you can help you. It is up to you, it is your life.
- Talking is not enough - We all have our crosses to bear, and sometimes we need to bare our crosses to help us move forward. Talking about problems does help, research is overwhelming on this fact. Unfortunately, talking is not enough to fix things, to make things right again, the issue will remain unless we do something about it.
- Change just one thing - The affected person has to take some form of practical action to start to make a change in their life. One little thing can make a big difference if it is done regularly enough. There is always something that they can do, even if it is burying what has happened by moving forward.
If you are finding yourself in a dark place where everything is overwhelming, change just one thing. Get uncomfortable, get selfish, get going. The sooner the better, trust me on this.