Sometimes, despite even the best of care, stuff happens. So it is that my little car of 17 years met a nasty surprise this week. I won’t go into details but I fell prey to a very reckless driver. Fortunately, no lives were lost nor did serious injuries occur. My reason for sharing this story though, is that I noticed a marked difference in my reaction to this experience, versus being involved in a car accident 10 years ago, and I thought the strategies might help if you find yourself in a predicament in the future.

In this incident, I was able to feel quite calm, respond clearly and appropriately, didn’t get caught up in the emotions of others and quite strangely, didn’t even get a shock reaction (i.e. shaky hands, sweaty, distorted cognition, etc.) Having a clear head, I was also able to avoid being railroaded by another’s opinions, which in the past I would have been at risk of doing.

Tops tips for managing a crisis…

Focus purely and solely on: “What is happening right now?”

In a crisis, there is no point reflecting on the past or trying to manage the ‘what if…?’s. Simply stay present to what is happening, moment by moment, acknowledge it and be curious. I just kept focusing on moment by moment events. ‘My car has just been hit…I’m okay…I can drive my car out of the way of other traffic…I need to exchange details…etc.’

Stick with the facts.

Avoid getting hooked into someone’s opinion, even your own and just keep focusing on what is factual and real, keeping the emotional reflection to a minimum (this can come later). Avoid blaming (finding fault) and shaming (judging, criticising) and focus all attention on observable fact only. Interestingly, because I held back all comments of blame or shame on the other driver, they very quickly calmed down and opened up about what might have caused them to make the poor choices they did… “Coming off night shift”, “In a hurry to go to the shops to buy washing powder” and “I drive like this all the time”, which came in very handy for the insurance claim.

Avoid making any decision unless it requires immediate attention.

A crisis is not the time to jump to conclusions or make any life altering decisions or judgements. It’s better to hold off until things settle. I’m yet to decide what to do next. One step at a time. I didn’t immediately jump to conclusions or worst case scenario’s during and after the accident. I’m waiting to see what happens.

So, hopefully you won’t need to use this crisis coping guide, but should a situation find you somewhere in the future, keep it simple, stay present, focus just on facts and let the rest unravel later.

Wishing you a safe and contented week.