It is very typical for someone to come to counseling when in a crisis situation. That is the time when a person has the most ‘felt need’ to seek some relief from pain or fear or loss.
But the other condition under which people will seek help is when stuck in a chronic situation.
A crisis is defined as: a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life. It usually has the condition of being immediate and time limited.
On the other hand a chronic condition is defined as: continuing a long time or recurring frequently.
Both of these situations have the potential to cause great pain in a person’s life. And both of them have an additional risk of generating feelings of hopelessness.
When a crisis is not handled well it could turn into a chronic situation. This might occur if we do not face a situation head on, and allow it to get worse over time. That is why it is important to grieve losses, and to refrain from burying feelings, except as a temporary protection until we have enough strength to process the loss.
We can even have both conditions present at the same time, when a chronic condition erupts into periodic crises. For example, I can be chronically late, but when I miss an essential airline flight it might become a crisis.
- Not all crises turn into losses, but all crises generate anxiety and fear and can cause secondary problems. In a relationship a secondary problem might be having to deal with the hurt feelings I caused because I got angry and impatient in my anxiety. In my personal life I might deal with a particular crisis by throwing money at it, only to have to face the resulting financial stress when the bills become due.
- Of the two situations, a chronic situation is usually much more difficult to deal with. Behavior patterns may have become deeply embedded Anger may have had plenty of time to develop into hardened resentment. Hopelessness may have raised its ugly head, obscuring our belief in the promises and comfort of God. And above all it might require a great deal more time and effort to break free of its grip.
We sometimes have the ability to hold off or prepare for a crisis – but more often we have the opportunity to avoid chronic problems by dealing with them as they come and before they become large.
Just something to think about.