The Curve Balls of Life May Include Tragedy
One thing Kobe Bryant’s tragic death has proven last week is whatever your status; rich or poor; obscure or famous; a tragedy can strike any one of us out of the blue.
We can barely imagine how devastating it was to hear the news directly, for his wife and surviving daughters—and let’s not forget the “seven other people” aboard who don’t enjoy the celebrity status and media focus.
Benjamin Mays, civil rights leader and mentor to Martin Luther King famously stated, “The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities.” Accordingly, Kobe Bryant’s family can be thankful that he lived his life like a giant of his game.
A very personal business
Grief and pain are unwelcome visitors, and as the nightly news proves, accidents and tragedy hit unpredictably like earthquakes, shaking us to our core. We all mourn in our own unique way. Most of us by middle age have experienced a death in the family; loss of a grandparent, parent, partner or sibling; some slowly through chronic illness or old age; perhaps addiction; others suddenly through a heart attack or stroke, or worse; suicide.
Life’s tragedies and crises are indeed numerous and they arrive at our door in many guises. Some are swift as an arrow; violent and bloody; while others are lumbering slow-motion behemoths, often more menacing because of their insidious, inexorable assault — we detect something bad is approaching, and in spite of the warnings, we are still stunned when eventually we face each other.
Crisis Checklist: The Top 25
As predictable as boardroom clichés, life’s problems, events and crises happen to all of us at some point, so being mentally (and physically) prepared is key.
Here’s a list of 25 of them (in rough chronological order from childhood to old age), many of which most of us experience in some form or another:
- Fear and phobia
- Abuse or neglect
- Accident and illness
- Parental break up
- Body image problems (acne, body shape, disfigurement etc.)
- Exam stress
- Career anxiety
- Debt and financial stress
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Gambling problems and other addictions
- Marriage and partnership issues
- Unemployment and redundancy
- Conflict with others (at home and at work)
- Jealousy and bitterness
- Criminality (and imprisonment)
- Sexual problems (impotence / frigidity)
- Stress and trauma through natural disaster / war / PTSD
- Suicidal inclinations
- Old age, dementia and death (fear of)
Problems are life’s “mental-muscle” builders
It’s a grim list because it can be a grim old world out there, but as a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and business leadership and management coach for Carol Barwick Learning and Development Ltd, I look at life’s problems, events and crises differently. I know that every single situation, however bleak, can be overcome and used as a stepping-stone to self-improvement, providing you are given the right tools and the right training.
A door of hope
Although tragedy and sudden change in life creates insecurity and brings on anxiety if we let the situation control us, we can use it to our advantage. Resistance to change happens because we fear the loss of something important to us such as status; power; control; privileges, and money—divorce or a death in the family can seriously affect finances causing a raft of other difficulties. Psychologists understand that unwelcome “change” delivers these seven reactions affecting self-esteem in a classic “roller coaster” curve:
Once the truth of a bad situation hits home, we get angry, confused and depressed until we reach a trough of crisis. Reaching rock bottom, we are forced to take back control by facing the issue(s) and developing new confidence, taking positive steps forward.
Tragedy therefore can be used as a source of strength. With the right outlook, our problems are useful learning experiences and “difficulties” are transformational in a positive way if we view them as challenges to make us stronger rather than insurmountable barricades.
Commit to a lifestyle shift
Finding a new job and improving your career is a pressing life problem for many. Perhaps you are in a role that under-utilises your skills and talents—it may be paying well, but is it affecting your mental health? There are few things more important than finding and following your passion. Sometimes you might consider changing jobs, or taking a leap of faith to start your own business.
Then again, you may love your job, but suddenly a new manager arrives and you find yourself in a “loaded relationship” which affects your self-esteem. Your sense of self is diminished or you feel devalued, harassed or even bullied.
It’s time for resilient change
Being aware of your negative thought patterns. Changing them is key to driving negativity out of your mind.
My company, Carol Barwick Learning and Development helps individuals, managers and leaders build resilience to challenging situations and morph them into positive outcomes. I have blended a range of powerful interventions including high impact hypnocoaching techniques, TFT (tapping meditation), NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), (EI) Emotional Intelligence, and IEMT (Integral Eye Movement Technique) to develop self-awareness; engage a new perspective; improve confidence; and improve quality of life.
I also deliver a range of resilience training and motivational courses at all levels, to help you and your team navigate challenges using a range of tools and techniques along with practical demonstrations, to deliver wellbeing and performance at home or at work with recorded motivational messages to keep you from flagging if things get tough.
Walk in moccasins during dark times
My general advice? Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Appreciate every day and treat everyone you meet respect and compassion. Eat well and find some exercise you enjoy. Ditch the junk food, excess alcohol and other addictive substances that poison and control you. The more we help ourselves, the better we feel and the less we need medical intervention. Although there’s no guarantees, at least you will lessen the likelihood that sudden tragedy will strike your health and you will be in a stronger position to deal with any curve balls that come your way.