Totally Responsible Individual:
Dealing with Chaos
chaotic or traumatic event can happen to anyone at any time or place.
Would you be ready if it happened to you?
threatens your sense of safety and security either physically or
mentally can be considered
a traumatic event. How well you respond to and recover from
such events primarily depends on your overall state of wellbeing.
Let’s look at ways to develop the Internal
and External Resources you need to put yourself in the best
possible position to deal with chaotic events.
response to a threatening
situation depends on a number of factors
including your past experiences, training, self confidence, physical
fitness, and emotional resilience.
importantly, your initial assessment of the
situation determines your ultimate reaction and adjustment to it. If
you are tired or chronically stressed, if you don’t eat properly or
get enough exercise, you can’t think as clearly or act as
effectively as the situation may require.
addition to taking responsibility for your wellbeing, two strategies
you can use to help you deal with chaotic events are:
Resources are the things your environment offers to support your
safety. They may be a tree to climb, rocks to throw, a cave to crawl
into, a desk to hide under, a door to escape through, or a telephone
to call for help.
Resources are your instincts, past experiences, self confidence,
psychological attitudes, knowledge base, and ability to express your
thoughts and feelings. Instincts govern our basic biological responses
and trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response. Your nervous system
activates your instinctual responses before you have a chance to
think, such as when you duck a fraction of a second before you walk
into a low-hanging branch.
your knowledge about what should be done in specific situations will
help you know which External Resources to use. Also, when your
instincts take over, you will have more Internal Resources to draw on
to resolve the situation.
a first-aid class is a good first step. You also can participate in a
crisis management workshop and review government websites that offer
information on what to do in specific emergency situations.
the steps for making decisions in chaotic situations will increase
your chances for developing a successful solution.
The primary and most crucial step is to clearly assess and identify
the problem. This includes determining the level of danger to you
and others and how long it will take to give or receive help.
When you know what you are up against, begin to create solutions by
evaluating your Internal and External Resources and the range of
alternatives available to you.
Finally, consider the actions you can take that have the highest
probability of working, as well as the risks, costs, or
consequences of each option.
you have decided what to do, take the appropriate action and follow
through until the situation has been resolved or sufficient help has
takeoff, flight attendants instruct you to notice where the exits are
located. That’s excellent advice, especially in today’s world when
terrorism offers little to no warning. Pay attention to exit signs at
work, in restaurants and theaters. Notice heavy objects that could
move, fall, or break in an explosion.
work and at home, keep flashlights and radios, fresh batteries, fire
extinguishers, first aid kits, and bottled water in a convenient
location. Know the emergency evacuation route for your area. Create a
plan with your family about where to meet and what they should do if
evacuation becomes necessary.
can minimize or stop chaotic situations before they occur by making
note of people and vehicles that seem out of place and calling the
authorities whenever you are concerned about your safety or the safety
of others. Also, don’t allow unauthorized people to enter a secure
building where you may work or live. Be firm but polite as they may
have a legitimate reason for being there. You can offer to call
someone who can assist them once you are inside the building.
occurs when individuals come together with preconceived ideas about
how things should be resolved rather than a sincere desire to work
together to find a solution acceptable to both parties.
control the situation and diffuse tension, remember that people who
are upset need to feel that they are being heard. Maintain eye contact
and say their name calmly. Use empathetic statements such as, “I
understand how you can feel that way…” and sympathetic agreement,
“I would be upset too if that happened to me,” and paraphrase what
they said. If you think you can help, only offer the assistance you
can provide by saying, "What I can do is…."
you are in physical danger, don’t be afraid to be assertive or to
call the police if you can. At work, agree on a code word or phrase
such as “Please bring me the red folder,” to alert coworkers
should they need to call the police for you.
it isn’t healthy to live in a state of paranoia, it is healthy to
observe your environment and to be as prepared as possible to deal
with chaotic events. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, it is
your responsibility to do something about it.
most powerful thing you can do is to take care of your own wellbeing
on a daily basis. If you need to, set boundaries around how much time
you spend at work and take vacations. When you are rested and in good
health, you will have the confidence and clarity of mind you need to
assess almost any situation, make decisions, and take appropriate
action. You also will be able to help yourself and those around you
recover with greater speed and minimal damage.
up to you.
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