The Bleakest Times of Our Lives Can Give Rise to Remarkably Positive Life Transformations
A life crisis is one of the inevitable features of our lives. Learning how to survive a crisis is a crucial skill, and one that we will probably need more than once throughout our lives. A crisis can occur when things begin to fall apart around you. The things that shape you – your marital status, job title, relationships with family and friends, health, or financial security – have disappeared and you find yourself adrift without any clear guidelines that tell you what to do next. you feel lost. Do you hide? Do you deny this is happening? Do you rage? Do you fear the world? The answers may not be obvious. Nobody ever told you that the world would turn out this way. But one thing is clear – this is a crisis.
We all experience life transitions, such as the move from childhood into adolescence or the transition from working adulthood into retirement. Both involve substantial changes in the way we and others define us and the way we conduct our everyday lives. While these normal and expected life transitions can cause us some stress, we at least know what to expect when it is time to move into the new life stage. Our culture provides us with ample guidelines. If we fail to make our adaptations to the new stage, then we experience difficulty. Think of the child who has trouble moving into adolescence or the father or mother who cannot accept the responsibilities of parenthood. Another example is the adolescent who cannot make the move into working adulthood. Most of us adapt to new life stages fairly well, however, because we see others around us who have made the move successfully. We know what to do.
A life crisis is different, however, because it usually hits you unexpectedly and you feel unprepared to adapt to a set of circumstances that you never thought would happen. A life crisis can occur when there is a divorce, a financial setback, the loss of a job, the death of a family member or friend (or a pet), a house fire, a serious accident, an illness (including terminal illnesses), violence (including rape), or a natural disaster. The list seems endless. A life crisis can even occur when a problem you have been sitting on for years finally comes to the fore – like, “Am I really happy in my marriage or in the work that I do?”
Try not to isolate and work this through by yourself, although this might seem the most comfortable option. A therapist is trained to help you in a confidential and professional way. A support group of people who have been through a similar experience can understand and accept your feelings. Find a trusted mentor who can help guide you through this period of confusion with practical advice.
Baya Mebarek, Psy.D., LMFT
San Diego Couples and Family Therapy serves the surrounding areas of Sorrento Valley Road as La Jolla, UTC San Diego, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Poway, University City and Escondido.