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Taking care of yourself is the first and most important step to building a Crisis Protocol. In this ever-changing landscape that we’re facing on a global scale, there are a lot of unexpected challenges that can show up. And while there are some overlapping similarities in what everyone may be facing, there are also so. many. divergent experiences in terms of how loss, grief, and trauma are individually impacting each and every one of us.
And even though Scott and I are not therapists or trauma counselors (and thus, we cannot speak into every single divergence), all of the trauma work we’ve invested in over the years has radically shifted the way we approach business. Our trauma-informed approach is the reason we see YOU and all of the many ways you’re being affected right now. Whether you’re used to working from home (or not), whether you’re a parent (or not), whether you’re feeling more motivated than ever (or not)… we see you.
Remember to take all of this one step at a time. In the midst of a crisis, the most effective and efficient path forward starts with protecting YOUR energy—especially when your capacity and mental health are already being taxed by the trauma you’re living through (and processing) in real-time.
Let’s start by talking about trauma, because an unexpected crisis of any kind—like we’re all experiencing right now—is a traumatic event.
Therapist Hillary McBride defines trauma as “a negative and unexpected event that leaves a person feeling confused, overwhelmed, and powerless.”
Onsite Workshops—a trauma treatment center—defines it as “any experience that creates feelings of overwhelming-ness and/or an event that is perceived as life threatening… a hallmark of trauma is a sense of loss of connection to ourselves, our bodies, our families, others, and even to the world around us. It’s as if, in trauma, we inhale a strong sense of loss and personal defectiveness with no direction as to how to exhale.”
Which is already hard enough. But what happens when new trauma is layered on top of traumatic experiences in our past? → All those old emotional responses may be triggered too, making it even harder to process these new experiences. My point? Be gentle with yourself as you experience this trauma in real time. Be gracious with your brain, body, and nervous system as new symptoms appear—whether those symptoms are extreme levels of stress and anxiety OR exhaustion and total lack of motivation.
Experiencing trauma affects multiple parts of our brains—including the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for decision-making—which is exactly why it’s important to know that trauma is NOT a mindset issue. You might be hearing or seeing business coaches call out your “limiting beliefs” right now but please know: These beliefs are NOT because you are somehow limiting yourself, but because your brain is helping you protect yourself from further trauma.
Simply put: What the entrepreneurial world deems a “limiting belief” is actually a defensive belief in response to unhealed trauma.
Beyond this, the part of your brain that handles decision making (the prefrontal cortex) also slows down and becomes “clouded” when you experience new trauma OR when you’re carrying old trauma that hasn’t yet been healed.
This means there’s a LOT of pressure on your brain in the midst of trauma—including the decision-making part of your brain that’s needed to lead your business forward. This is WHY you have to care for your brain and your nervous system before you attempt to care for your business. Because in order to make the smart and strategic decisions your business needs you to make, you need your nervous system and prefrontal cortex working for you again, instead of against you.
How do you regulate your nervous system?
We love this incredible model (below) from Dr. Justine that explains why there are so many divergent reactions to stress and trauma. Especially in light of this global pandemic, it’s important to understand how your own nervous system responds to real-time trauma differently hour by hour, day by day, and week by week.
It’s important to note that in this modern-day era of online marketing, we are constantly surrounded by a culture that praises—and even elevates—overachieving, overdoing, and being in a constant state of HYPER-arousal.
This is why some entrepreneurs are responding to this current season in “doer” mode (i.e. Hyper-arousal) while other entrepreneurs are beating themselves up for not doing enough (i.e. Hypo-arousal).
Either way, we’ve all been subconsciously trained to do more, show up more, and contribute more. When, in reality …
Which means, even if the deep internal work you’re doing behind the scenes to stabilize yourself doesn’t feel very sexy, marketable, or “productive,” it is still helping you process the crisis, stay present, feel connected to other people, and be grounded in your body. As you take steps to care for yourself first, you are simultaneously increasing your personal capacity while exponentially increasing your capacity to care for others in the future.
Think of it this way: Whenever you take an airline flight, what’s one of the first things they tell you? → In case of an emergency, put your own oxygen mask on first.
Which is exactly what you’re doing here—by regulating your nervous system. Especially since every single day looks/feels different right now. So depending on if you’re in Hyper/Hypo-mode today, your to-do list might have to change, or your schedule might have to change, or your “yes/no” might have to change.
This is why Scott and I are HUGE fans of a concept called the Spoon Theory.
This theory suggests that every single day we wake up with a certain number of “spoons” or units of energy. And that number of spoons? It changes from day to day. So even if you wake up expecting to have ten spoons to invest in your day, sometimes you’ll only wake up with three spoons to give.
Which means your energy isn’t something you can predict or measure in advance—especially in the midst of unexpected crisis or grief. Just the fact that you’re processing so many changes and new information (even subconsciously!) can take a LOT of spoons.
In fact, in this season, you might find you’re more tired than normal and needing to rest more than usual. This is because, according to the Spoon Theory, the only thing that gives you more spoons is sleep.
Only once you’ve rested and regained some spoons can you show up and “pour out” again.
This is where a daily check-in comes in to play.
A daily check-in allows you to analyze your current capacity (i.e. your nervous system and “spoon” level) so you can prioritize what truly matters most each day.
Which brings us to the first action step in your NEW Crisis Protocol…
- Are you currently in the Optimal Arousal Zone (calm, present, connected, and grounded)?
- Are you in Hyper-arousal (tense, worried, anxious, overwhelmed, irritable, hypervigilant)?
- Are you in Hypo-arousal (low energy, numb, disconnected, shut down)?
- How do I feel today?
- This question allows you to perform the necessary body/brain scan needed to analyze the current state of your nervous system and how many spoons you have to give.
- How many spoons do I have today?
- This question allows you to tangibly measure/communicate your spoon-level.
- What will I do to care for my nervous system and spoon level today?
- This question allows you to protect your spoons.
- What’s the most important thing I need to work on today?
- This question allows you to use/invest your spoons wisely.
Disclaimer: None of the information provided in this guide constitutes financial, legal, or medical advice. For complete disclaimer, please review our terms and conditions.