Yesterday was the anniversary of my dad’s accident. It will forever be labeled as “the accident.” Everyone has these moments in their lives. You remember exactly where you were and how you heard. The events around your version of the “the accident” are vivid.
I didn’t save the text message but it was something like…”your dad was trampled by cattle, in ambulance now, keep you posted.” As a farm girl, I know that cattle weigh over 1,000 lbs each. I would later learn that my father was trampled by three 1,500 lb cows. How is he still alive? I don’t think that is for any of us to know. The text message alone was clearly terrifying knowing the weight of cattle and the….”in the ambulance” part was….well….no explanation needed.
I woke up the next morning as everyone in the middle of a crisis does with that…“it was just a dream” initial feeling…then you remember that it’s all very real. As I climbed out of bed, I rolled straight into pure adrenaline and stayed there for several days. I gave myself the CEO title for dad’s care. Once at the hospital, I assessed the situation, organized, managed, sweet-talked, begged, pleaded, dictated. I didn’t sleep much, tried to eat well, and kept pushing forward.
We’ve all had crisis where our adrenaline takes the lead. Our energy is astonishing and we feel out of sorts yet eerily clear and we know we will crash…just the moment that we can. But what about the non-life threatening crisis in our life? My coach once said to me when I was dealing with what I considered merely drama… “you are really handling this crisis well.” What?!? This isn’t crisis…have I ever told you about “the accident?” She didn’t let me off the hook until I could see that I was executing all the tools of crisis. I was assessing, organizing, managing, sweet talking, begging, pleading, dictating…sleeping too little or too much. I was operating at an unhealthy level of adrenaline.
Where do you find yourself operating at crisis level? In your relationships? Are you managing boundaries with toxic people or are you letting them bring you into crisis? At work? Do you work in an environment where everyone fears being fired daily? Do you come down with the flu at the end of every budget season? Have you ever considered your adrenaline level in your daily life?
I often find myself with my clients exploring whether they are in a difficult situation or if they are operating a crisis. My biggest fear for my clients is that they make crisis a new normal. Do you ever notice when people leave jobs that were hard…the first thing they always say….”I should have left years ago.” How about divorce? It’s heartbreaking when people come out on the other side of the pain to realize that they didn’t have to live like that. We also know those people who find themselves addicted to crisis and drama. At what point did crisis become their normal?
We all know that high levels of adrenaline can cause us to suffer physically. Please check in with yourself and pay attention when things are difficult…are you downplaying something that is actually a crisis. You don’t get extra gold stars for saying “I’m fine,” and suffering. Know when to surround yourself with good support and practice excellent self-care. One of the best tricks is to ask yourself…If I had a friend who was going through this situation…what would I tell them to do…what would I want for them? It’s most often to tell them to rest.
As for Dad, one of the big questions in the days that followed “the accident” was whether he could still run. It’s been inspiring to watch my macho…tough guy dad…take it easy…well…easier. He didn’t accept a new normal of crisis. He goes slow, takes breaks, and is careful with his care in running again. This past summer, Dad got second place in his division for the 4 Mile Moonlight Chase Run.
What about you? Do you downplay drama? Do you pay attention to your adrenaline level? Please join the conversation in the comments.
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