How to recognise the signs of crisis in your life

When crisis descends, even the simplest tasks such as waking up in the morning can be a struggle. One person’s tsunami-like crisis may be just a ripple in the pond for someone else.

Any crisis is based purely upon our individual perceptions of a given situation,  occurring at the point at which the circumstances intolerably exceed your specific resources or coping mechanisms. No matter how this affects you, the thought of breaking out of the cycle remains impossible and overwhelming. 

For many, it can be hard to recognise we are in crisis, amidst the monotony of the daily routines we carve out. We don’t see ourselves becoming an unrecognisable version of who we were. Masks are created to hide struggles and maintain pretence with loved ones and other people we interact with.

Crisis can be a very subtle progression, requiring an extreme event to shock us back into awareness that something needs to change, or it may be a dawning realisation that life is not exactly as we thought it was. 

The peak of crisis can creep up on us and does not always require major drama or external events. Crisis can also progress internally, as part of a response mechanism to questions focusing on our being, such as, “Who am I?”. An important realisation to rebound from a crisis is understanding that the crisis is not the real life events, but your response to them. So, how do you recognise the signs that lead to crises in your life?

10 signs of crisis to look out for

Over the last 10 years of working with professional women, I have identified the following 10 typical patterns that can help you identify you are in crisis:

  1. Imbalance: Your life feels as if it’s not what you thought it was, even if you can’t put your finger on exactly what’s wrong.  
  2. Image: Keeping up appearances is vitally important, often at the risk of not facing reality. You’ll dress up and show up, insisting everything is fine.
  3. Identity: You start to question who you are, after many years of hiding behind the masks of your various roles; partner/wife, mother, colleague and so on. Now everything has changed – job loss, divorce, empty nest or dying parents – often all at once. I am no longer shocked by how many women tell me this has happened to them and how this has caused them to lose their personal identity.
  4. Individuality: It’s easier to fit in than to stand out; your own individuality becomes suppressed as you become your roles. Who you are and what you want has long ceased to be important as you manage the demands of others in your life.
  5. Integrity: You accommodate the needs of others at the expense of your own, sacrificing your personal inner integrity in the process. It’s time to acknowledge what’s inside of you, your beliefs and choices and be true to you.
  6. Influence: You believe that nobody listens to you, so your opinions no longer matter. When you simply go with the flow it becomes harder to speak-up and be heard.
  7. Impact: Apathy sets in; you disengage because there is no point in doing certain things, or perhaps in doing anything at all. When you think nobody listens it is easier not to participate.
  8. Imagination: You lose touch with reality as your imagination verges on paranoia. You are imagining what you could have done differently, fabricating scenarios that never happened except in your mind. You blame yourself, becoming incapable of visualising a way forward.
  9. Independence: Unplanned independence throws you into a crisis of confusion; alternatively, you cannot break free of the circumstances that have enforced your dependency. You are either stuck in the same old situation or you have been thrust into a new one not of your choosing. Neither is aligned with your wishes.
  10. Intuition: You become blind and deaf to the messages of your intuition making decisions that are not in your best interests. You may have closed your intuition down or knowingly refuse to listen to the messages you know are the key to a better alternative.

The majority of people will relate to at least one of these signs and sadly the majority of people will continue to move forward in a repeat cycle for years to come, on the outside masking the issues and on the inside living a life of struggle. 

The people around us will often be able to see the crisis unfolding before we do. In some cases ‘others’ are at the root of the problem. However, it is not until this is recognised and those people are no longer in our lives that their part will become apparent and the path ahead will seem brighter.

How can you overcome a crisis?

So, how do you overcome a crisis? The first and most important step is acknowledgment. You might have been aware of a problem, but actually taking ownership of it will be a monumental moment. Following this, it is important to take some time to evaluate the crisis, establishing the scale of how bad it is. This will then prepare you for the next step, and the one which will require you to step up, taking responsibility. 

Reflecting on your own actions that led to your crisis situation will inevitably help you to accept responsibility for it. It helps with the shaking off the blame perspective and releasing yourself from being the victim. Your life is your responsibility. That also includes being in charge of the positive changes to make yourself happy.

Patterns of life crisis can be both obvious and underlying, but ultimately both deserve the time and space to be deconstructed and reprogrammed. It is only when a reflective environment is created that we can begin working towards crafting the life you desire and deserve. Although this is a realisation you alone must make, it is important to remember there is always support available to you when you need it. 

Elizabeth Carney is a transformational coach, natural healer, business mentor and adviser. Elizabeth works with people to reclaim their unique authenticity and self-worth after a significant life event has left them reeling, often with their status shredded and life as they knew it in tatters.

She helps them to rebuild from the inside out, developing the resilience needed to live and love life again on their own terms. A 25-year international corporate background alongside lifelong study of natural and energy healing modalities places her in a unique position that spans the world of business processes and the processes of life and living.

An accredited Master Coach, Six Sigma (Process Improvement) Black Belt and Business Analyst with a BA in Communication Studies and an MSc in Education and Training Management. Elizabeth looks forward to welcoming more visitors, coaching clients and hosting transformational retreats at her home in Italy.

Lisa’s book, Totally Real is published by Panoma Press and is available from Amazon.

Photo by Yaro Felix Mayans Verfurth