What does it take to stay calm, when a situation seems to demand panic?
Here are a few of the skills belonging to people who can stay calm in a crisis.
AN UNDERSTANDING OF LOSS
We all experience loss. On an almost daily basis, we experience what it is like to have things taken away from us. If you watch children, you will see that they differ wildly in their attitude to having things taken away from them. Some scream and shout, and some simply get on with someone else.
Beyond these natural differences, we can train ourselves to accept loss with greater ease. Some do this by contemplating the futility of attachment, and some by wishing the best for others, and therefore becoming less obsessed with their own possessions.
A STRONG CRITICAL FACULTY
Critical thinking is the ability to analyse situations, and to reduce a problem to its manageable parts. A critical faculty helps us to stay calm, because when we are focused, we pay less attention to our worries. Critical thinking requires strong inhibition of the mind’s ability to associate – in other words, our wild-horse minds can be harnessed by our critical faculties.
If we learn to be optimistic, we learn to encourage ourselves and others at times of uncertainty. People say optimism is blind. Yes, it is partially blind. It exists in order to cross the bridge over uncertainty. In order to do this, it suggests that, for a period of time, we don’t look down, but focus on the other side. An optimistic person can be well aware of danger. But the difference is that they do not allow that danger to inhibit their performance or their attitude.
A PERSPECTIVE WHICH INCLUDES THE BIG PICTURE
People get upset about boxes. What I mean is, we all live in our own narrow perspectives – our boxes, if you like. When you meet a friend who is upset, it is usually because one of their boxes has become upturned, and the contents have fallen out. The box may be a relationship, a bank account, a home, or a job – but it is almost always something particular and narrow.
When we talk our friends out of their sorrow, we do so with humour, and with another perspective. Slowly, the worrier comes to see that they are not alone in the world, and that the world is bigger than their problem. Once this big perspective is achieved, the sting of acute anxiety is often gone.
Here, then, are a few skills to develop, in order to shield yourself at difficult times.
Get used to loss, and become less attached to your own self and your possessions
Learn to analyse any situation
Cultivate an optimistic attitude
Learn to step out of your own box or boxes, and see the big perspective