Crisis, resilience and adaption.

At present the world is experiencing a crisis with the outbreak of the current pandemic. Strength-based and Crisis Intervention approaches focus on the human potential to endlessly develop; crisis is viewed as an opportunity for further development. Crisis do slow us down and provide the opportunity to rediscover complete appreciation of the self, others, life and the manner in which we want to live our lives. Crisis turns into opportunity to determine and develop strengths, resilience and innovative ways to be in the world.

The question is regularly asked why we all experience certain levels of stress during this time that we find ourselves in. The second question asked is whether stress could be enhanced by others, our experiences or the environment. In the history of psychology, we find that since the 1940’s proponents started to focus on human potential and strengths. Even today we are interested in the emergence of positive psychology. Abundance of theory focussing on human potential and strengths support the perspective that we as human beings do have the ability to organise ourselves on various levels to protect ourselves. This is currently evident where we as people endeavour to protect ourselves, families, groups, communities and the global society. Stress can be viewed as a motivator to take action to preserve our own lives, others and our environments. The current stress we are globally experiencing, thus, is a natural reaction that motivates preservation of the self and eventually our world and humankind.

I am also regularly asked whether the (social) media overload can contribute to our levels of stress. In general one should be selective on your sources of information. Currently we are guided by our Government and its structures as well as the World Health Organisation. Fake news certainly has the potential to cause undue panic, causing more harm than good. Unclear communication rather would result in unnecessary evaluation of general stress levels. However, the media plays a significant part in communicating validated and credible news to society. One can choose, decide and have control over what you want to listen to, read or act on. We need to be selective of what we allow into our world of experiences. We cannot, although important, constantly observe the distress of others and the world. We should also focus on the good news of scientific advances that are made. At least, we need to read one inspirational poem or verse, look at one new beautiful picture and listen to an incredible piece of music in every day. We need to take care of ourselves, even if it means a news-diet.

To be bombarded 24/7 by negativity and crisis would not be an advantage for anyone. To be informed by creditable news agencies however will be productive. Life happened at a hectic pace for many before the lockdown, now you have the time to pick up that book you always wanted to read, listen to some of your favourite songs on those old CDs, reinvest in a hobby you neglected, or more importantly; emotionally connect again with those that are close to you. This virus forces us on every level to appreciate those aspects of life that is important in life; getting back to the basics of humanity. Valuing every sunrise and sunset, every little wonder and beauty of God’s creation, each other and constructing meaningful experiences; is where we can explore our strengths.

Most of are uncertain what this “new normal” is going to be like, we are all learning new skills and behaviours that would benefit society. Science is working very hard to curb this pandemic and to prematurely make predictions about the future would not be productive. Our focus should rather be on our strengths; how we as the human race have accomplished many gains over difficulties in the past. Academic knowledge was constructed from a magnitude of studies and disastrous human experiences; this scientific body of knowledge is to our advantage as we have learnt from previous lived experiences. When we become aware of our strengths we start building on those strengths and constructing a hopeful and prosperous future for ourselves and others.

To remain positive during a global pandemic might be a challenge for many. A process where each one becomes aware of their strengths and potential would assist in this process, constructing awareness of who I am and what exactly it is I want to construct in my life. One strength we have is our ability to change and adapt to the experiences that life presents us with. The manner in which people remain to be in electronic contact is bringing us closer together while we are physically distancing from each other. People are taking control over choices that benefits themselves and society. We should also be prepared to learn from each other and care for each other; be prepared to contribute to the wholeness and wellbeing of our communities. The construction of an awareness of our abilities, strengths and creativity that we were not previously aware of would be a productive way to utilise the time we currently have during this lockdown period. Constructing a sense of community is also of importance, electronic communication makes us part of the global community that constructs a sense that we are indeed not in isolation from each other. Although we are physically apart, we are all connected. This is also a time to have those essential spiritual, emotional and existentialistic conversations with each other; get to know each other on a deeper and meaningful manner.

People also want to be of assistance to other. This becomes difficult when we are physically distancing from each other. Wonderful projects are emerging from all sectors of society, we saw the past weeks significant projects from the private sector, sport and entertainment fraternity, Governments, world organisations, Non-Profit and Non-Government organisations and Faith-Based organisations. These initiatives are organised with the aim to advance society. Personally one can render your support to a formal organisation, make a telephone call to others in your community or actively get involved in the projects of your church or ministry. Just a friendly telephone or video call can make the world’s difference in someone’s day or life. By being creative, responsible and accountable, we can create wellbeing. Our united efforts should be to productively change, grow, develop, educate, enhance and protect each other during our interactions with each other.

Currently we all have more questions than answers, which is a good thing; if it is because of new questions that science will move forward. We know that we were at the same place in the history of our world. Science also had a lot of new questions to answer when we became aware of the HI-Virus in the 80s, but today the virus is under control by halting the virus’ replication. Academia and science moves forward by asking new questions. As people we should never neglect to ask new questions about our own development and growth. All life is sacred and should be preserved and enhanced; this position should never be abandoned. We should, like science, continue to ask novel questions about our own lives and the meaning we want to construct from it. We should firmly become aware of our potential to continually change and grow towards self-actualisation.

 When resilience and strengths are viewed as the outcomes of crisis, the focus will no longer be on illness, but rather on peoples’ desires and their ability to develop according to their own self-determination. We can conceptualise our abilities and strengths to achieve the change, growth, goals and live the lives we desire. Traumatic experiences and crisis creates opportunity to reformulate ourselves and to start growing in a new direction by discovering our strengths. People have the ability and potential to change and grow from crisis to a more actualising person.

Medical intervention, psychosocial counselling by professionals and the assistance of family, community and significant others are of importance during the “recuperation from disaster” process. As human beings we are fascinatingly complex, but distinctively resilient. Resilience is an inherent human trait and productive coping mechanism and refers to the ability to cope and recover. People might not always be aware of their inner strength and potential to recover from crisis and trauma; but resilience is part of the human construct. Strengths of the person are found in internal and external aspects such as personal, family and community characteristics.

In conclusion, exposure to threatening environments causes psychological discomfort, but we should be slow to pathologise natural human reactions to traumatic or significant events. Not all people develop unproductive implications; resilience is also found to be a defensive mechanism allowing productive adaption and further development of the person. Resilience is the ability to heal and “bounce back” to live a full and actualising life. Our human resilience certainly is one of our significant strengths.

Each person has an underlying flow of movement toward constructive fulfilment of the person’s inherent possibilities. Striving towards change and growth demonstrates that within all persons there is a natural tendency toward a more complex and complete development; the terms that is most often referred to as the actualising tendency and self-actualisation.

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