How much of your life is focused on crisis? I am not referring to crisis that are out of our control, circumstances that blind side us and have a major impact on our lives, I am talking about the crisis that we continue in our mind. The type of crisis living that keeps us operating in fight-or-flight mode, with little to no hope that we will ever live a positive, stress-free life. This is referred to as crisis-to-crisis living and thinking, and it can have devastating effects on our life.
I first heard about crisis-to-crisis thinking years ago, from a mentor, who identified that I was trapped in this mode of thought. She helped me to see that I was living my life expecting something to go wrong, anticipating that doors would close around me, and not utilizing hope for any part of my life. My thoughts were filled with the expectation of doom, that my dreams and goals would never come to pass, and that there would always be something going wrong in my life.
Well, we can be assured of challenges and trials in this life, but we do not have to live with a constant fear that we will not be able to endure them. The crisis-to-crisis pattern of thinking prevents us from being able to accomplish anything because we cannot see any optimistic ending, instead we only see something stressful happening that will cause us stress and disappointment. So many of us get trapped in this type of thinking and never even realize it. Our words, thoughts, and actions are evidence of this but we are blind to it. Even well-meaning people around might mention that we are being overly negative, tend to ruin someone’s joy by injecting the “worse case scenario” all the time, and we just do not have any hope for our future. But for someone caught up in crisis-to-crisis thinking, this is their reality, and they believe that they are thinking in the best way possible, because something always goes wrong. So, they stop expecting anything positive.
There are two basic ways to view life: in an optimistic or pessimistic way. The gray areas are what get us in trouble, along with being overly positive or negative, being unrealistic in our outlook. We want to work on remaining positive and thinking in hopeful ways, all while being realistic and understanding that things may not go our way. But this realistic thinking should not result in assuming that all will fail and that our efforts are meaningless. This will lead to a rather defeating and discouraging life.
Are you or someone you know caught up crisis-to-crisis thinking? If so, read more and begin to take some steps toward realistic thinking:
- Identify stressors in your life. Where are your largest sources of stress coming from: people, bills, job, environments, thoughts, health, emotions? This is an important first step, as our crisis is real and there is no denying this. However, while they may be real for us, we must take as much control as we can over them and work to reduce their power over our thoughts and life. For example, if bills are a huge source of stress, its time to create a budget that you will stick to, determine needs vs. wants, cut out non-necessity items, sell some things you do not use anymore, work to clean up your credit, etc. It may not be an easy task, but if you continue to do nothing while complaining about your bills, then you will remain in a crisis-to-crisis panic everyday, all the time about money and every bill that arrives in the mail.
- Examine your priorities. What do you value, where do you spend the majority of your time, and with who? Sometimes our crisis thinking can be the result of misplaced priorities. We are not focused on the things we should be, or the goals we have established for ourselves. We are all guilty of this, but it can also occur in bigger ways, such as spending time with people who zap the energy and joy out of us, spending too much of our time shopping and spending money we don’t have, sleeping too much so that we don’t have to deal with life, and avoiding people altogether so that we don’t have to face reality. These are all ways that can be red flags that we need to take a deeper look at our priorities and values. And these are also areas where if left unattended, can leave us in constant crisis and panic mode.
- Monitor your words. Are you confessing crisis-to-crisis expectations? Does every other word that you speak sound negative and defeating? Are people around you starting to tell you that you are too negative, or are they suddenly distancing themselves from you without reason? Our words are the direct reflection of what is going on in our mind and heart. So, if we are thinking about the next crisis in our life that hasn’t happened yet but we know that it will because that’s how life is, then our words will be equally if not more negative. We really have to be careful about our words and how we use them. They can be uplifting or discouraging, but the choice is ours.
- Locate the season you are in. Are you currently healing? Has the current or past season of your life been especially tough? Are you grieving the loss of a loved one, or experiencing some serious change in your life? Has your health been challenging? These are real-life crisis that we need some time to work through, and sometimes they can take a lifetime to accept. When we are still healing through the hardest seasons of our lives, we need to take special care of ourselves and not assume that the next season will be as rough as the current or previous one has been. This is easier said than done, as we are often in a very vulnerable state and do not see our life the way we used to. But this does not mean it is impossible. There will be times in our lives when our crisis-to-crisis thinking is related to anxiety about taking steps forward, while we are already nursing open wounds.
- Be honest with yourself. Are you fed up with yourself some days? Tired of how your feel emotionally and physically? Can you tell that your thoughts and emotions are taking control over your life? If you can answer yes to these questions, then be real with yourself and start doing some real self-reflection and self-inventory, and obtain professional help if needed. Sometimes we just have to be fed up with feeling and thinking in negative ways before we will change. The first step is just being honest with yourself and admitting that you are living in crisis-to-crisis mode. Be honest with yourself about the changes that you want and need to make. You can do this.
Here are few other articles to help inspire positive changes:
Learn more about what negative thinking is costing you.
Determine if you might be drowning in negativity.
Understand the significance of disappointment and expectation.