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Is it a Crisis or an Awakening?

by Harinder Ghatora Mental Wellbeing Personal Empowerment Emotional Wellbeing

It is truly amazing how within a split second everything in a person’s life can dramatically change.

I experienced such a moment a few weeks ago.

It was a very normal Monday. I was having a good day. I remember feeling well, happy and calm. The sun was shining. All my client appointments for the week were fully booked. Life was good.

That was until l received a text from my son telling me that my husband had had a heart attack. He had been resuscitated a number of times. And, I urgently needed to get to Harefield Hospital.

Like a bolt of lightning out of the blue, everything changed in that instant. Suddenly I wasn’t feeling well, happy or calm. All of a sudden life wasn’t that good.

Thankfully, a series of very fortunate events on that day meant that my husband received the immediate care he needed, and he is now well on the road to recovery. I feel immensely grateful to all the people that helped him, and me, on that day.

I often come face-to-face with the shock and horror of sudden crises through my client work. I see the emotional, mental and physical devastation caused by nervous breakdowns, diagnoses of life-threatening illnesses, relationship breakdowns, bereavements, and the loss of livelihoods and security.

What I find most striking is how we all go through life on auto-pilot, doing the same things day after day with very little thought.

That is until a crisis strikes, and our whole world comes crashing down around us. And we are thrown off balance. In a split second, the strategies we once relied upon to help us navigate through life no longer work, and we are left drowning in a sea of emotional and mental confusion and chaos.

This chaos can last hours, days, months, and even years.

But are all crises inherently bad for us?

The experience of going through a crisis is certainly dreadful. It brings to the fore difficult and disturbing feelings, and it can shake us to the core. No one likes to be in emotional turmoil and feel out of control.

But, I would say that in the long term crises can be a powerful force and opportunity for personal growth and positive change. Here are 12 reasons why.

  • A crisis literally stops us in our tracks. The things that normally demand our attention are no longer a priority. We are forcefully catapulted into the present moment. And we have to focus on dealing with what is at hand.

  • A crisis diverts our attention away from the outside world and forces us to look inwards, especially if we are struggling to cope. We are compelled to reflect and reconnect with our inner self, whether or not we wish to do so.

  • A crisis forces us to re-evaluate ourselves and our life. We have little choice but to take a long, hard look at every aspect of our inner and outer world so that we can find a way forward. We have to work out how we can put the pieces back together, and return to a state of balance.

  • A crisis forces us to re-evaluate our priorities and separate out those things that are important from those that are not.

  • A crisis prompts greater self-care and a more caring, loving relationship with ourselves - if we allow it. This is something very few of us do naturally.

  • A crisis sheds light on dysfunctional patterns of thinking and behaviour that need to change. Life presents us with an opportunity to purge ourselves of old habits that no longer serve us. A health issue for example might prompt us to change our poor eating habits or lack of physical exercise.

  • A crisis helps us to acknowledge the love and support of others in our lives. (It also allows us to assess who is really there for us in our time of need!)

  • A crisis helps us to dig deep and discover hidden strengths and resources that we may previously have been unaware of. We uncover positive qualities and skills that we didn’t know we had, such as courage or the ability to be flexible.

  • A crisis helps us to find new coping strategies and ways of being that make us stronger and more resilient for the future.

  • A crisis softens our hearts and makes us more compassionate towards others. (The kindest and most understanding people are usually the ones who have experienced the most adversity in life.)

  • A crisis helps us to get a whole new perspective on life. As we try to find our feet again, we naturally become more inquisitive and open to new information, ideas, concepts and philosophies. This can change our view of the world.

  • A crisis can trigger an awakening within us. Going through a period of great difficulty prompts us to question the purpose and meaning of events in our lives. This can lead to a newfound awareness that there is something bigger than ourselves at play. For many, it opens a door into the spiritual dimension of life.

Going through a crisis is very similar to having your house come tumbling down around you after an earthquake. One minute you are happily living in the house; the next minute you are sitting on a pile of rubble. For a while you are so stunned by what has happened that all you can do is merely sit in the debris. You feel shaken, frightened and confused. You feel exposed, raw and alone.

But then a time soon comes when you realise that you can’t just sit there; you have to do something about the mess your life is in. You then dig deep and find the resources you need to start rebuilding yourself. You pick up one brick at a time. You assess whether it can be reused, or whether it needs to be discarded. You take each brick, one by one, and start to rebuild your house. Until eventually, a day comes when you realise that the new house you are living in now is so much better than the old one.

My own life experiences have led me to reframe any crisis that I am faced with as either a wake-up call or a breakthrough. Every difficulty I have ever been through has ultimately led me to a) become a better version of myself, and b) lead a better, more fulfilling, more purposeful life.

As Scott Peck said,

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

If you are going through a crisis then perhaps I can help. Click here to find out more about the services I offer: www.harinderghatora.co.uk


  • 25 May 2016 06:58:02

    So glad that your husband received the timely help and support that he did that day, and you too Harinder! A great article that takes us through all the stages of a crises. I love the analogy of rebuilding your house one brick at a time. Thank goodness there’s services like yours to help people put back the pieces of their lives to create a better version of themselves!

  • davinder:

    29 May 2016 08:32:34

    I can identify with this when my Dad passed away it does make you reevaluate your own thinking. I gained a whole new perspective on the world then had to keep reminding myself as little things still get the better of me.

    I’m glad your husband got the care he needed. Like Sadhna I love the building new house analogy. Thanks for sharing a timely reminder for me.

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