Dealing with Crisis – Part I: From Haze to Clarity in 8 steps

From Haze to Clarity in 8 steps

By Sonya Yeh Spencer, Certified ITA NLP Trainer, Advanced NLP Coach
There are times in our life where we might have to face extreme and unthinkable situations that shock us so much, that they severely test our ability to cope.

Jan 2011 Floods in Brisbane, Hope St
Photo from 24/7 Queensland floods info centre

From situations that are largely out of our control and challenge our humanity such as wars, ethnic cleansings and brutalities, to experiencing nature’s fury like the Queensland floods of 2011, earthquakes or manmade disasters like the world economy meltdown, and personal loss through life’s circumstances; they are all challenges to our resilience and our ability to cope.

Stress often becomes the short-term result of these situations mentioned above.  Without intervention, this unhelpful emotion might become an habituated response. In a large scale disaster, where many people we know have been affected in one way or the other, we might all need to take on the role to console each other, or assist each other.

We need to help each other with skill, by understanding some key aspect of being a helper so we can bring maximum benefits and assistance to each other on the road to recovery.

This first part of a multi part series will help you and others to overcome the initial shock and various emotions and to start gaining clarity again.  This is the first step to recovery.  This is the process that we have used over the years to help others dealing with grief and dramatic changes in life and we are sharing what we know with you in the hope that it can bring benefits to you and those around you.

These documents were written with non NLP trained people in mind, and where appropriate we have included NLP terms in an attempt to create a deeper level of understanding for NLP trained professionals.  We welcome any constructive professional feedback and suggestions from your experience with using the processes described in this document.

What You Need to Know Before You Start

Dr Doc Childe from the Heart Math Foundation says it best: “When a crisis occurs, there are different emotional stages that people go through: shock, anger, blame, despair, grief and more.”  The process is often painful and difficult to go through and it takes time.  However, he says, these emotions “helps to clear out the shock overload on our mind, emotions and nervous system.”

We all need time to process

Whether people have been directly impacted by the crisis or people who have been glued to the news media and following the event, each person will be affected by the crisis in varying degrees.  We all need the time to process our emotions and to go through the stages of shock, grief and anger.

There might not be words to describe

Often, when we experience these emotions, there are no words to describe what we are feeling; we are still in the process of making sense.  If you have been trained in NLP, this is where people might be still experiencing their First Access (FA).  They might also be in a state of confusion, not sure what they are sensing, like in a Trans-Derivational Search in NLP.

Our body experiences it also

When we are under stress, our body will exhibit specific signs of the stress that we might not be aware of.  One of the signs is the tightening of our abdominal muscles; this is a typical fight of flight reaction.  It is very useful when we are facing danger, but not so useful when we need to release it and are out of the immediate danger and want to recover from the shock.  The tensed body and the accompanying breathing pattern sends signals to the brain that we are still under threat; hence we will be operating from the condition as if our life is still under threat.

Initial Confusion is normal

When we are operating from a much heightened negative emotional state, it is normal that we might experience confusion and lose a sense of life’s direction.

The goal here is to facilitate ourselves and others to regain our ability to cope, think and find a sense of direction for our future.

Some facts about our heart rhythm

Before we even attempt to talk about our dramatic or painful experience, it is important to shift ourselves and others out of this fight or flight state, so that we and others can start to recover.  NLP trained professionals will recognise the importance of the Chain of Excellence and apply it accordingly.

Here we are going to focus on our heart rhythm and change it from a state that is not helping us to a state that will enable us to cope and work through difficulties in life.  Scientists have now identified the key relationship between our heart and brain.  Evidence is now supporting the notion that our heart is a:

“… highly complex, self-organized information processing centre with its own functional ‘brain’ that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways.  These influences profoundly affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs, and ultimately determine the quality of life.”    (Science of the Heart, HeartMath Foundation, 2001)

Our heart rhythm reflects our emotional state.  Negative emotions lead to increased disorder of the heart’s rhythm and the autonomic nervous system which impacts on the rest of our body.

On the other hand, positive emotions increase the harmony and coherence of the heart’s rhythm which increases our ability to operate efficiently, reduces the level of stress and helps our body to function correctly.  When the heart’s rhythm is harmonious and coherent, we experience mental clarity, we are able to shift our perceptions, and increase our ability to deal with difficult situations.

From Haze to Clarity in 8 Steps

The best thing to do for you and others is to go through these emotions fully, and you can do it yourself or help others to do it in the following way to shift the negative emotional state and increase heart rhythm coherence:

  1. Experience the Emotions in Private, if you are the helper, it is important to give the person who you are helping the space to sit quietly and experience what they are experiencing in private.  Talking too much does not actually help in many cases.  However, do keep an eye on the person, sometimes just sitting next to them and sharing the silent exchange is even more powerful.  If you are facilitating as an NLP professional, deep rapport throughout is paramount.
  2. Create understating of the emotion, by asking yourself “What does this emotion mean?  What does this emotion trying to do for me that is good for me?  What is the positive intention of this emotion?” If we presuppose that every emotion has a positive intention for us and has a message, then it is important to identify what that message would be.   For NLP professionals, here we are identifying the highest positive intentions and redirecting the attention.
  3. Accepting the Emotion, It is important to accept your feelings and emotions.  You can do this by simply saying, “Thank you emotions {or name}, I accept how I feel, right now I might not understand what it means or the message behind the emotions, but I will accept this emotion and be processing it to gain understanding”.
  4. Help your body to process the emotions, by softening or relaxing your abdominal muscles intentionally.  You can do this by focusing on your abdominal muscles and tell yourself to relax from the deepest layer to the outer layer, and expand this relaxation to your chest, shoulders, arms, throat, face, forehead, scalp, and the back of your head, neck, shoulder blades, back, lower back and the entire lower body.  For NLP professionals, this is implementing Chain of Excellence by changing the physiology.
  5. Stabilise your mind, a simple technique to regain a stabilised mind and body is through breathing.  You can do so by starting to count your breaths, backwards from 9 to 0.  Gradually slow down your breathing.  It normally takes about 21 rounds of breathing to experience the full effect.   For NLP professionals, this is implementing Chain of Excellence by breathing.
  6. Letting go of the emotion, once we understand the emotion, we can progress to let it go at the right time.  The Sedona Method can be very helpful.  You can apply it by asking yourself the following questions:
    • Can I let it go? (always answer yes)
    • Will I let it go? (always answer yes)
    • Could I let it go? (always answer yes)
    • When ?(always answer now)
  7. If you cannot answer yes and/or now, then you may also want to consider whether you have really been able to establish the understanding and the message from the emotion.  If you repeat yes and now as if you are whole heartedly doing it often enough, you will get the results.  However, if you did not experience big shifts, you can still progress to the next step.

  8. Generate the positive emotion(s) that will help you in this situation, the stronger the emotion the better.  It could be a sense of gratitude or compassion for others who are in the same situation as you or a sense of loving kindness to others who have demonstrate loving and kindness to you.  Sit with this positive emotion for as long as you want.  For NLP Professionals, you can use sub-modality change here, or anything that will elicit the state strongly.
  9. Ask yourself “What should I do next?” or “What is the best thing I can do next” or “If I want to turn this situation around or see it as a hidden blessing, what is the action that I should take now?” For NLP professionals, here we are checking for shift in perceptions and the client’s ability to identify new options.  If all of the steps above have been successfully implemented, a shift in perception will normally result.

You might need to go through the above steps a few times initially, the more you practice the easier it becomes and the more choices you will have in your life.

There are things in life that are outside of our control and we cannot change what has happened, but we can change the way we react and choose how we want to respond.

Part II of this document will show you some tips to start rebuilding your life.


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