H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Managing and Overcoming Crisis

By Matsya Avatara Dasa

During the course of his life, each individual must face crisis, tensions, and emotional conflicts. These occurrences are not negative per se, they can become negative only when the individual cannot handle them and does not solve them. This can result in neurosis. If instead they are handled with the right attitude, consciousness, and elevated motivation, they can represent the indispensible evolutionary stimulation to reinforce ones qualities and reach higher balances through the recognition and the overcoming of certain limitations. He who learns to solve natural tensions that arise within himself, (and those produced by external entities) can, in fact develop a more mature and integrated personality if he does not allow these tensions to become chronic but instead turns them into important chances to acquire new learning experiences. On this subject, Adler explains: “A small difficulty leads to normality, a big difficulty leads to neurosis.” He who knows how to recognize his own particular emotional crisis and neurotic tendencies will be more capable of preventing them from becoming degenerate personality troubles. We are all continuously dealing with the process of readjustment of our inner tensions, and no one should feel above these tensions. We should instead learn to handle them in a constructive and evolutionary fashion by initiating the process of transformation and inner re-education that will allow us to harmonize and transcend them. This is possible mainly through the teaching and the stimulating life examples of balanced persons who possess an elevated level of consciousness. They can be points of reference for the work that we have to do on ourselves.

The term “crisis” is of Greek origin, meaning “change”. The Chinese, to represent the “crisis” concept utilize two ideograms: the first one expresses “danger”, the second one “opportunity”. In both civilizations, the Greek and the Chinese, we see that this phenomenon implies the necessity of choosing, distinguishing, separating and deciding.

Crisis is therefore a decisive point of change that arises suddenly or gradually and that solves favourably or unfavourably the situation or its environment. It is, however a phenomenon characterized by the interruption of balance previously acquired, and by the need to transform the usual schemes or behaviours that no longer seem adequate to handle the present situation.

During a crisis, mainly when it is deep and acute, everything is undergoing a sudden change from which the individual can undergo transformation if he implements new solutions or can become incapable of adapting and moves toward degeneration.

In physiological crisis, which are also called ‘evolutionary’ or ‘of development’, the subject experiences changes between infancy and adolescence, adolescence and adult age, adult age and senescence and senescence and death, which is the conversion from one dimension of the existence and another. These crisis generally occur gradually giving the individual time to prepare himself for a journey of inner growth and self-consciousness. the evolutionary crisis is obviously of unrestrained nature.

Another category of crisis is the accidental one. For example, one caused by a great economical loss, a serious accident on the job, a traffic accident that could create a permanent disability, a mourning, the loss of a person dear to you, abandonment, or in this specific case a betrayal.

In an evolutionary crisis the individual has the capability of obtaining all the necessary instruments to manage and overcome the change through the progressive altering of his life conditions. The accidental crisis however, happens in a sudden and threatening manner. It compromise ones health, psychological balance, social and economical status, etc.. It requires more inner resources and a more mature capability of intervention from the individual.

The accidental crisis generally happens through the following dynamics:

  • The happening of an unforeseen episode

  • The connection between this episode and previous tensions that had already determined a conflict situation within the subject

  • The incapability of the individual of dealing with crisis in an adequate fashion by using his usual mechanisms of understanding and elaborating such events.

In accordance with the social-cultural level and mainly the evolutionary level of the individual, there could be different scenarios in response to the crisis. The two main ones can be synthesized as follow:

  • A state of maximum opening to change toward situations both positive or negative

  • Incapability to accept change due to some mind closure and emotional and cognitive blocks of the individual

Some of the determining elements of the crisis phenomena are the time factor (duration) and the intensity (energetic load), or the relevance of the affective, cognitive and relational changes that are dealt with.

In the general evaluation of the crisis phenomena it is also important to consider if it is a one-time crisis or if it is tied to a certain experience that, if it is not solved adequately, tends to reappear with time, an example being the phenomena of death, the transfer from one existence to the other.

Crisis can be handled mainly in two ways:

1 - A quick intervention to simply reduce the harmful effects of the moment, this would be a sort of temporary “treatment” to save the subject from immediate danger.

2 – Through the intention and the engagement to repair its deeper causes, to completely and definitely solve it.

During the crisis it is required that the individual adapts to the new situation by elaborating judgment in relation of the changed context and by assuming an appropriate and mature position. It is indeed this ability that constitutes the foundation of a responsible attitude toward experiences and will give the individual a relative autonomy in relation to the environmental conditioners. Learning to handle crisis means learning to handle even the most negative events without being overcome by them, it would enable the individual to take advantage of the precious opportunity to elevate his consciousness, by referring to those universal values that allow him to go beyond the obstacle with his conscience and his heart.

One must be able, if necessary, to distance himself from his own opinions and convictions by knowing that most of them reflect the cultural and affective world that he has lived in and therefore they are capable of improvement.

Self criticism, the capability of using another point of view to remove oneself from previous life experiences and analyze and elaborate them in a proper way, is more than ever indispensible in the management of a crisis. Its overcoming necessitates of a full development of the meta-cognitive faculties.

Let’s remember that the events per se are not the cause of our disgraces or fortunes. What is really determining is our attitude or the attitude that we have toward people, situations and happenings.

If it is this we desire and we predispose ourselves in a correct way, even a negative event can be transformed into a precious and rescuing opportunity for growth and elevations.

When we elaborate on the crisis it is important to consider three fundamental factors:

- No one can escape from crisis for it is a norm in human life. To realize this is positive because it prevents us from falling into feelings of rage, mistrust or injustice while we deal with our weaknesses or difficulties which appear external. It is in fact a distorted vision that leads us to believe that problems are outside of us. In reality we can understand that the direct and indirect causes are to be looked for inside ourselves.

- We must uncover our problems, removing those means potentiating them, thus becoming even more frail, weak and helpless because the enemy is much more dangerous when it acts without being noticed. Our effort should concentrate on facing every crisis as soon as it arises and as soon as we recognize it as a crisis. Denying crisis by creating false justifications or alibis means letting the problem grow and deeply structuring it within ourselves until the research for solution becomes ever more difficult and demanding in terms of time, efforts and energy.

- Our future is always modifiable; therefore the most important and determining factor will be our reaction to the crisis. The past is a completed journey, but all that lies in the future is open to transformation. Therefore nothing is fixed or irrevocably pre-established.

- We should distance ourselves emotionally from crisis, understand it’s identity and evolutionary functionality, and consider it as a chance to solve problems, overcome our limitations and ascend to higher levels of consciousness, joy, and love.

In short, crisis is an imbalance, a disharmony that prompts us to a change that often requires concentration, transformation, sublimation and transcendence of the opposites. It can be permanently overcome in a higher way only thanks to the highest faculties of an individual, his adhesion to the universal ethical order (dharma) and the rediscovery of bhakti, the Love relationship with God and His triple expression: Creator-Create-Creatures. To solve the crisis we must situate ourselves at a transcendence conscience level and penetrate the space of our deep conscience (our spiritual essence), where disharmonies and opposites connect in superior and sublime harmony. For this purpose, culture or simple acquisition of data are not as necessary as wisdom, which is an invaluable gift that comes from the glorious mix of high knowledge, experience, and life coherence. This is how we reach intrinsic happiness that does not depend on what happens out of ourselves. Happiness is not utopia if we learn to walk in the world with harmony and in accordance with the Divine Order that regulates the cosmos life of every being. In summary, every step that we take breaks a balance, but only to build a superior one.

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