How do you respond when a crisis comes your way? Do you react in knee-jerk fashion, like most of us, abandoning all rational thought and allowing your emotions to run you ragged? If you’d like to have a more effective way to deal with crisis, read on to discover how the simple acronym ‘STOPP’ , which has its roots in the teachings of the Stoic Epictetus, can help you.
I’ve recently written about the Stoics. But for those of you who missed that post the Stoics were a group of ‘pragmatic’ philosophers whose goal it was to attain peace by pursuing meditative practices that helped them to triumph over adversity, practice self-control, be aware of their impulses and realise the fleeting nature of life. The STOPP system is an approach to achieving inner peace and is summarised below:
1. Step back
Don’t immediately react. If it works for you, count to ten backwards. The aim of this step is to help you create some headspace, enough headspace to enable you to respond thoughtfully to the situation you are facing.
2. Take a deep breath
According to GetSelfHelp, you should “notice your breath as you breathe in and out”; this is a well-known mindfulness technique.
All conflicts start internally; it isn’t the outside world that makes us feel something; it’s what we tell ourselves about the situation that produce our feelings. So step back and look within, not at what’s around you. Ask yourself the following (writing down the answers will help, too):
- What am I thinking?
- How am I feeling?
- Are these thoughts descriptions or facts?
- Are they helpful to me or unhelpful?
- Is what I’m thinking logical?
- Do I have empirical evidence for my conclusions?
The next step is to develop a range of perspectives on your situation: How would an outsider view your situation?
- How would a trusted friend, someone you respect, view the situation?
- What advice would you give to someone who was in the same situation?
- How important will this situation be in a number of months from now?
- Is your reaction proportional to the true importance of the event or situation?
Remind yourself, if you are facing failure, that failure is far from being final: there is life after failure. Whatever you are facing can only destroy you if it destroys the essence of the person you are, and presumably you will still be the thoughtful, honest, kind and generous person you always were. You will still have the qualities that will one day enable you to fulfil your true potential - in spite of the situation you are facing today. So whatever your circumstances now, ‘it’ cannot destroy you – the most it can do is present you with a challenge, albeit what may seem to be a very difficult one.
It will take deliberate practice do develop a more reflective approach to managing crisis situations. This simple 5-step reflective approach will help you take the time to understand your thoughts and feelings, explore different perspectives and formulate a more considered and effective response as a result.
How do you stay calm in a crisis? Share your tips in the comments box below.