May blind roller coasters

Roller coaster of emotions: The 7 phases of life crises

Nobody strikes harder than life. We know that life crises are somehow part of life. But when it really strikes, it throws many off the beaten track. They feel the crisis like a slap in the face, feel their anger and powerlessness, quarrel with their fate and gnaw at the loss of control. Quite a few oscillate between fear, sadness, aggression, resignation and paralysis - a single roller coaster of emotions. What is remarkable about it: As different as the crises are - most of the typical emotional phases go through more or less the same ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Emotional roller coaster: The Roller Coaster Ride to Hurst / Shepard

Psychologists are familiar with the emotional phases that those affected go through with varying degrees of difficulty, also as a "Roller Coaster Ride" - a rollercoaster ride of emotions, depending on how many efforts and defeats follow. Interestingly, these phases are typical for all trauma: whether heartache, the loss of a loved one or the job - the emotional ride is almost always the same.

Of course, that doesn't make it any better for those affected, and there isn't a simple recipe for avoiding these emotional phases either. But they can at least be mitigated in this way: if you make yourself aware of which phase you or a good friend is going through, you see yourself in a different light and can help (yourself) better. Scientists Joe B. Hurst and John W. Shepard researched these phases of the emotional rollercoaster in more detail as early as 1986 and translated them into their so-called Roller Coaster Model (PDF). This is how it looks:

Course of the individual emotion phases

  • 1. Premonition
    The person concerned anticipates an imminent crisis (for example a possible termination) and calculates the (financial and emotional) costs as well as his reactions to it.
  • 2. shock
    Even if you somehow suspected it - now it is a certainty. The worst happened, the disappointment was great. Immediately afterwards, a shock sets in. The person concerned needs time to fully grasp their situation and to realize that the result is final.
  • 3a. Sadness
    The person concerned takes a break and time to mourn. That is part of the crisis management. Often - after a while - it comes to relief: The anxious uncertainty, the wait is over. Life must go on now ...
  • 3b. effort
    That is why new plans are now being made: What will happen next? What should I do? In the event of a termination, the application documents are now usually updated and job advertisements are searched in job exchanges: What is on offer? What am I worth in the job market? A light hope sets in. Don't give up! The person concerned takes courage and tries again. And if there are even the first successes, it goes straight to phase 6.
  • 4a. Concern
    But hope is mixed with self-doubt: what if I don't make it? How should it go on then? Temporary worries can even give rise to greater (existential) fears.
  • 4b. denial
    The first spontaneous attempts are unfortunately unsuccessful. It just doesn't go any further or up. But give up or change your strategy? No! Instead, people like to talk about the situation now - especially in private and in front of themselves.
  • 4c. Anger
    There is no progress or improvement at all. That frustrates. The trigger (for example the termination) is reflected once more - and the guilty party is sought: the boss, colleagues, circumstances, the system, the state of affairs in Germany - a scandal! One unfair conspiracy! And the anger becomes the explanation why it doesn't work.
  • 4d. task
    Nothing helps. Not even moaning or scolding. No matter what the person concerned does, he (apparently) can no longer get on his feet. In the event of termination, all applications will continue to come back, there are only rejection cases. Without exception. At some point the person concerned gives up and gives up.
  • 4e. depression
    Depending on the importance of the loss (such as work and career) before, it is linked to a lot of self-esteem. This can be endured for a while, but at some point the self-confidence has a massive crack. Studies show, for example: Long-term unemployment has massive and negative effects on the psyche. Some even fall into depression.
  • 5. Hope
    Of course, it doesn't have to come to that. Perhaps there is also a first ray of hope: A friend gives courage, unexpected opportunities arise, mini-success stories ... In such a phase they act like an emotional stimulant: new forces are mobilized and new efforts are made. Hope is growing again. However, if it is suddenly dampened, a new 4-cycle cycle begins
  • 6. Enthusiasm
    It looks good - the way out, the solution, the new job is within reach. Now the body mobilizes all reserves - including the emotional ones. Euphoria mixes with the effort. The valley seems to have been overcome.
  • 7a. overcoming
    It is done, the crisis is over. The affected person has lived through his catharsis and may even have emerged stronger from it. Quite a few develop the much-invoked resilience in the process.
  • 7b. New cycle
    But it can also turn out differently: Hope bursts. At the last moment the wick that should ignite the second career glows. The crash is all the deeper - a new 4-cycle cycle begins. And with it even stronger self-doubt. The depression can now even turn into apathy. Here mostly only help from specialists helps ...

8 tips on how to deal with crises

One thing is clear: displacement is not a solution. Strong emotions cannot be denied or discussed away. They are there and are simply part and parcel of serious crises. The first step is therefore to allow and accept these - at least for a while. In the second step, those affected should deal with it honestly and consciously. Because such feelings are by no means a sign of weakness, but part of the "cleansing catharsis" that Aristotle already described. If you work with your emotions, those affected usually experience how they regain the ability to act. Acceptance is therefore an important step out of the perceived powerlessness. But there are other ways to deal with the emotional roller coaster:

Determine the causes

A wild roller coaster of feelings is usually only symptom and consequence, not the cause. So ask yourself what might be behind this. Wrong decision? A wrong application strategy? Or maybe just an unfortunate chain of circumstances, at least no bad faith. By using your negative emotions productively and as a drive for the search for the reasons, you take the reins in your hands again and develop options for action: Often good ideas arise as to how things can go on. More importantly, it is not your feelings that you control, but your emotions.

To keep moving

The stronger you have the impression that nothing works, the more you should keep moving - also physically. Walks have enormous mobilization potential. They are proven to make you more creative and broaden our horizons. However, through physical exercise you also reduce stress and stimulate the mind not to stand still. “Standstill is death” is a well-known bon mot. And it is true: if you stop doing something, you soon give up and afterwards it usually goes much faster on the downward spiral. Therefore: keep going and changing strategies. Anything better than standing still.

Sort thoughts

Try to clear your head - and with it a better view of things. This works particularly well if you write down your thoughts. For example, one study showed that employees felt less frustration and rejection towards their former employer after losing their job if they regularly wrote down their thoughts and feelings about their professional situation. Another remarkable result: the writing not only had a positive effect on the emotional world, but also increased the chances of finding a new job. 52 percent of them found a job again within the next eight months; in the control group, which did not write down their feelings, it was only 19 percent.

Structure the day

Whether you are going away or staying at home, give yourself a kind of order therapy: Build a structure for the day, a framework for yourself. Always get up in the morning at the same time, make appointments until noon, then take a break, go to eat something and from 2 p.m. you will set up appointments again. As banal as it sounds, the long-term positive effect is phenomenal.

Determine location

When the job is gone, the associated insignia also disappear, which were previously taken for granted and which some regarded as their property: influence, power, financial possibilities, many material desires, social standing and some friends. Now you are no longer someone but someone who has lost his job and is therefore cut off. Due to the probably very high level of identification with the previous job, the company, the tasks and responsibilities over the years, very few people know who they really are and what they once wanted. What remains when everything outside falls away? Then only you remain. Your innermost core, your character, your heart, your good qualities and maybe your bad qualities, your knowledge of human nature, your experiences, your wisdom, your inner and outer beauty, your strengths, your weaknesses and much more, positive as well as negative. Go on a search and create a personal strengths and weaknesses analysis, a SWOT analysis.

ask questions

You can make it easier for yourself to determine your position, set goals and develop strategies by asking yourself the right questions:

➠ Who am I, who do I want to be?
➠ What is my job, what is my calling?
What do I want to stand for?
➠ What do I want to give back to the people around me?
➠ What do I want in my relationships?
➠ How do I want to live?
➠ With whom and where do I want to live?
➠ What do I really enjoy?
➠ What do I really want?

Two key questions that are absolutely essential: What would you really want to do if you were financially independent? AND: What would you do if you knew you wouldn't fail?

Looking for an exchange

Look for a conversation with good friends. It is important, however, that you don't just look for interlocutors who confirm your point of view, whine along with you and scold you - even if that is more convenient. Otherwise you will not find a solution, but only reinforce the emotional roller coaster. Certainly you can and should honestly vent all your feelings during an interview. But let the mirror hold up to you and correct your self-perception through a possibly more objective external perception.

Think positive

Stay optimistic and confident - no matter what (still) happens. As we know, the optimist has every reason to be optimistic and the pessimist also has every reason to be pessimistic. How do you become or remain an optimist? Through your own positive thoughts. Discover what you like and stop doing what you don't like anymore.

Of course, there are far more ways to deal with the roller coaster of emotions. Especially in the long term. In the short term, however, the valley phases can be kept flatter and narrower. The most important thing, however, remains to be aware of the emotions, to accept them and to actively counter them.

The 24-hour rule: Put a limit to the tribulation!

Do you know the 24-hour rule? Actually, it is not a real rule in the sense of an iron law. Rather, it's a kind of reminder that life goes on. In short, the 24-hour rule is, “If you are going through a crisis, you can mop it up for exactly 24 hours. After that, the grief is over and please look positively into the future again. “Admittedly, that sounds a bit esoteric and like the typical you-have-only-positive-thinking-blah blah. Nevertheless, it works, because it is a nice and easy-to-remember reminder not to sink into self-pity for too long when faced with setbacks (of all kinds).

The positive side effects of a crisis

Going through difficult times is truly not a child's birthday. As long as you are still in the crisis, it will be difficult to get anything positive out of it. Nevertheless, it is like this: where there is shadow, there has to be light. The psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun from the University of North Carolina also found this and examined it more closely. And indeed: there are also positive post-traumatic side effects:

  1. Better relationships.
    Anyone who has gone through difficult times not only experiences that personal ties to friends and family have grown stronger afterwards - he or she also realizes who the real friends are. The very ones who stood by you the whole time, were always there (sometimes invisible) and always had an open ear. These friendships are then more intense, more trusting, deeper.
  2. Stronger personality.
    Everyone knows the bon mot: "What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger." And it's true: after overcoming a stroke of fate, a life crisis, those affected have outgrown themselves. You are mentally stronger and more confident that you will be able to master the next crisis. In short: you have more resilience.
  3. Greater openness.
    Almost every crisis is associated with change. We are forced to leave our comfort zones, rethink and plan our lives. Hardly anyone likes to do that. Afterwards, however, many experience that the crisis has also opened up new horizons for them and they are generally more open to new perspectives and experiences. You could also say: You are rediscovering yourself and your life.
  4. Gratitude and joie de vivre.
    Most people are hardly aware of the finiteness of their life. After all, tomorrow is another day. So many spend the day with a constant eye on the future. However, anyone who has gone through a crisis lives differently: They are much more aware of the fragility of being and the value of today. Effect: You develop greater gratitude for life itself and enjoy and experience the here and now much more intensely. And that leads to more joie de vivre again - even after a crisis.

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