5 Ways to Use the Current Crisis for Personal Growth

The current pandemic has created crises of health and financial markets that are disrupting the lives across the planet. COVID-19 has taken a world that, for many was safe and secure, and forced us to confront a new world that is ever-changing, unfamiliar, unpredictable, uncertain, ambiguous, uncomfortable, and uncontrollable. It has generated a wide range of uncomfortable emotions including fear, worry, doubt, frustration, and anger.

COVID-19 unsettles our confidence in ourselves and tests our resolve, resilience, and ability to deal with a deluge of daily bad news. Can this crisis be used in a positive way for personal growth?

At the heart of the COVID-19 crisis is adversity and challenges unlike what we face in our normal daily lives. And therein lies an incredible opportunity for us to use the current crisis to grow as people.

Please understand, I acknowledge that many of those affected by this crisis do not have the luxury to use it as an opportunity for personal growth. For example, the elderly, the infirm, and the immunocompromised are faced with a crisis that is truly life-threatening. For those who lose their jobs and are unable to support their families, the crisis will be catastrophic. This article isn’t intended to minimize the seriousness of the consequences many people will face.

For those with the capacity to do some interpersonal work during this crisis, remember, what matters is how we interpret and respond to the difficulties and challenges that we face. And it is our attitude toward and response to the COVID-19 crisis that can either make or break our experience of it. If we can take advantage of the opportunity to respond positively to this current emergency, the “crises” that we face as part of our normal daily lives should be a walk in the park.

So, what lessons can you learn from the COVID-19 crisis that will help you grow as a person and serve you well when you are confronted with future crises in your life?

#1: Allow Yourself to Feel Bad

The emotions we are all experiencing in response to the COVID-19 crisis are the most powerful and immediate discomfort we feel in reaction to this destabilizing situation. Sadness, disappointment, grief, devastation, despair, stress, anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, frustration, and anger are just a few of the emotions we feel in response to this unprecedented disruption of our lives.

Allow yourself to feel bad. Don’t try to assuage, placate, or distract yourself from your feelings. A part of having a healthy emotional life involves being able to fully experience all emotions. You cannot cherry-pick which emotions you will choose to feel. If you shut down the bad one’s you also shut don’t the good ones.

Rather than resisting negative emotions, be kind and empathetic to yourself and others; listen to and reflect back the feelings that are there. And most importantly, process the emotions by allowing yourself to go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

#2: Embrace the Adversity

Whether we like it or not, the COVID-19 crisis is here for a while. However much we may “rage against the machine,” we have little control over it or its resolution. And though we may mitigate the health risks of the virus in the near future, its financial implications may last for years. So, what matters is how we choose to respond to it.

We have three options. We can love it. But, let’s be realistic, there’s nothing to love about our current situation. We can hate it. But that will simply add salt to the wound, making our experience of what is already disruptive and unsettling even more unpleasant.

The final, and most realistic, option is to actually recognize the COVID-19 crisis as something that we can utilize in a way that drives an unexpectedly positive experience. Do not become a victim of the COVID-19 crisis, remain in the drivers’ seat of your life, and intentionally create some benefits out of this decidedly unnerving situation; in other words, turn lemons into lemonade. For example, use the stay-at-home time to do some interpersonal work such as Career Exploration so your new job or new direction will be a better fit for you.

#3: See the Crisis as a Challenge to Overcome

I encourage you to see it as a challenge to be faced head-on and in the most positive way possible. Along with embracing adversity, viewing COVID-19 as a challenge reorients your thinking, emotions, and actions in a more constructive direction which will make your journey through the crisis a bit easier and perhaps even leave you better off after the crisis recedes than you were before.

The universe often tried to get our attention when our lives become stagnant or we fail to keep growing. COVID-19 isn’t just a tap on the shoulder, it could better be described as a punch in the face. Now that old “normal” has ceased to exist, the easiest way to create a new “normal” is to design it yourself. Use a Career Exploration process to define your optimal direction. Utilize a professional Resume service to showcase your value and professional Interview Prep to ensure you can articulate that value to potential new employers.

#4: See the Crisis as an Opportunity

As President John F. Kennedy noted, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters—one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” Whether a crisis is viewed as negative or an opportunity depends on whether the focus is on what is lost or what can be gained. Our capacity to respond positively to this crisis will be dictated by whether we can let go of the costs and focus on the potential benefits of the crisis.

Here are a few ways you can reorient your thinking about the COVID-19 crisis toward being an opportunity. As long as the crisis lasts, you can adjust your life/career goals to work within its state of “new normal.” You can see the loss of regular life as a chance to focus on other aspects of your life/career that have been neglected because you’ve been too busy to address them. You can identify areas you want to work on or improve in your life/career and focus on developing those areas. You can use this break from “normal life” to seek balance in your life and pursue aspects of your life/career that you didn’t have time for before the crisis (e.g., enjoy a hobby that has been neglected, try something new and different, take a class or seminar to broaden your skillset or fulfill an interest).

You can see your response to the crisis as an opportunity to become more positive, adaptable, and resilient which will serve you well when the current crisis passes. Most importantly, you can take action. When you don’t succumb to a victim mentality, you decrease your feelings of hopelessness and helplessness and increase your sense of competence, feelings of control, and optimism.

#5: Have a Positive Attitude

When bad things, such as the COVID-19 crisis, happen, it’s easy to have a pity party (“Woe is me!”) and dwell on everything that is now missing in our lives or that we have lost. But getting pulled to the “dark side” simply adds insult to the injury (e.g., disruption of life, health problems, diminishing investment portfolio) that has already resulted.

By embracing the recommendations offered in the blog, you will lay a foundation for hope, optimism, and a positive attitude and approach that will help you weather the storm from which there is little protection or escape.

#6: Generate Positive Emotions

One of the best protections against being overwhelmed by the negativity caused by the COVID-19 crisis is to actively generate positive emotions in your life.

Relish the time with your family, renew your commitment to your career and dreams, continuing to be the best person you can, despite this substantial interruption, these actions will generate good feelings that you can use to counteract the bad.

Find fun, joy, excitement, and contentment in your daily activities. Experience inspiration in your efforts and pride in your progress and accomplishments as you continue to strive toward your life goals.

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