The best definition of power I’ve ever come across is that power is a knowing and active participation in change. Many times, a person who ends up addicted to a substance really had no clue what he or she was getting into. They really do become powerless, at least by the above definition, because the substance was in control and the abuser ended up passively addicted. He or she may not have ever known how things would end up. This lack of active and knowing participation can lead to a person swimming in an emotional, physical, and spiritual crisis.
In my opinion, during times of crisis, powerlessness can be the overriding feeling flowing through someone’s mind. In order to counter that feeling of powerlessness, someone must exhibit a sense of power in order to provide a sense of security within the situation. Pretty much, a crisis suggests a collapse in a person’s ability to solve problems or cope with a situation. What this indicates is that an individual can assess a certain level of harm, but will cope or not cope as the situation as he or she believes him or herself capable. When a person is in a state of crisis, someone around that person must act as a leader: Someone must have a clear command of what to do.
A leader should not only provide a sense of safety and security, but should also provide at least some structure for individuals experiencing a crisis. If a crisis state means chaos, then one suggested responsibility of a leader within a crisis response situation is to counter that sense of disorganization with actions that speak to organization. This organization can further allow for a sense of safety and normalcy for an individual to begin restructuring the world for him or her self.
Really, if the main attribute of crisis is chaos, the antidote is structure and having a plan ready.
This means that a plan is key for crisis response. In any given situation in which a person finds him or her self in an unsafe situation, a plan of action about alleviating the chaos he or she may be feeling is key. For example, when a person in early recovery feels an urge to pick up his or her substance of choice, the conflict between maintaining recovery and the strong urge leads to confusion and, therefore, a crisis. However, working out a plan to call a trusted person to talk through the urge can in and of itself alleviate some of the anxiety of facing urges. That is, just knowing there’s a plan can help.
As long as we allow for open and empathetic communication, we can all act as leaders for both others and for ourselves. In order to diffuse crisis situations, we can arm ourselves with knowledge about crises we may face and give ourselves active plans that can change the situation.
Therefore, the best suggestion I can make to anyone who wants to lead either him or herself or others is the following: Know what to do within a given situation so that you convey strength; Have a plan and be sure to have resources, or at least be able to find resources, for assistance in executing the plan; communicate openly and in communicating make sure that the people in crisis know that you care. It may sound simple, but sometimes the simplest solutions can become the most difficult to implement. We can all be active and knowing participants in change and therefore, we can all have power.