Don’t escalate a disaster into a catastrophe

There is something to be said of remaining calm, cool, and collected in a highly trying situation. It may actually be highly frustrating and irritating to do so, but the reward is so grand. If you freak out, others freak out. If others freak out, a mob mentality or a cornered dog sentiment takes a hold of the situation.

I have been through many situations in life where one wrong led to another and another. Yet, for the most part I have remained strong and calm. Although, my insides were tearing each other up. Many years ago, me and team pulled an all-nighter together working on binders for a large meeting. Binders of all things. After that I wanted to scream “no more wire binders”. Nowadays, hardly anyone puts together conference or meeting binders as one can just give a memory stick with the documents already pre-loaded. Or an online link to the uploaded materials. Life can, indeed, be so much simpler these days. At the all-nighter, I wanted to cry, scream, and pull my hair out. But I instead laughed with the team, ordered pizza, and occasionally ran to the restroom to silently yell at myself. We got through it. I learned a lesson about binders and never repeated the same mistake. The thing was to hang in there and be one of the team. The thing was to not lose my cool and show signs of despair.

Fast forward to the past two weekends. I had large mishaps occur during which I was fairly calm. Well, for one mishap I was the queen of zen. Someone else thanked me for how calm I was. What was I to do? Not being calm was out of the picture. Then the other mishap was quite unexpected and unnerving and left me in a very bad, precarious situation. I was mightily anxious. But I pulled it together because not being calm was out of the picture. Let me explain further.

Sadly, last year, a dying friend asked me to be the one who went with her to her medical consultations. She chose me, in part, because I am in the healthcare field. But she mainly chose me because she knew I would be the one who wouldn’t cry and lose it in front of her. When she first told me this, I winced. I thought maybe she considered me cold. But that wasn’t the case. She knew I would go home and cry for her. She knew I would ruminate. But she also knew I would be strong because someone had to be. And, I would step up and step in. I feel as if I was meant to be strong. Yet, I don’t even know what such a sentence means.

But I do know, one shouldn’t escalate a disaster into a catastrophe. One has to be able to step back and assess and react slowly and in consideration of what still needs to be done. I suppose being very outcome focused makes me want to mitigate a potentially bad or worsening situation. Plus, it doesn’t do anyone any good to have people feeling out of sorts.

I will try to remind myself of this when the next disaster comes. That could bd today, tomorrow or next month. It will ckme. And, being calm can help in navigating many treacherous waters.

6 replies »

  1. One of the approaches that I find extremely helpful is mindfulness meditation—focusing on the rise and fall of my breath and thinking: “This is happening now; I am moving through this. It’s not forever.”

    And things usually are not as bad as our imaginations perceive. Mark Twain reportedly said; “I’ve had a life filled with misfortune—most of which never happened.”


  2. I have decided that my fear of flying will not be allowed to dominate my thinking UNTIL the flight attendants show concern. I don’t LIKE turbulence, but I can be a grownup about it. And, of course, should it ever be critical, I hope I will still remain calm – because it might affect survival.

    It usually doesn’t help to panic, and I hate mob mentality. And mobs.

    Almost anything in the universe can wait while you take a few calming breaths.


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