If this feels like a battle, these are the rules – Rules 1 & 2
Author: Shiri Ben-Arzi, PMC, MCC
A medical crisis holds two narratives:
- A clinical narrative that addresses the question of WHAT.
WHAT happened, WHAT has been done so far, and WHAT needs to be done from now on to fix the problem?
This narrative is constructed from the outside and includes the medical information: medical history, diagnosis, prognosis, test results, prescriptions, pathophysiology, and treatment protocols.
- A personal narrative that addresses the question of WHO.
WHO is this person is experiencing this medical crisis?
This narrative is constructed from the inside and includes the personal history (life story), beliefs, values, emotions, coping skills, trauma, loss, hope, and resilience.
In Medical Coaching, we focus on the personal narrative from two aspects:
- The narrative (the story) that has been constructed and is being told.
- The narrator (the storyteller) that communicates and expresses (verbally, emotionally, and behaviorally) the narrative.
Metaphors are important in constructing the personal narrative because metaphors help us understand and conceptualize new events and ideas by connecting them to familiar ones. This connection enables us to create an inner cognitive and emotional structure (some might call it a protocol or roadmap) that helps us process information, experiences, concepts, and emotions.
In short, metaphors help us simplify and clarify things we have no idea how to address.
There are three common types of metaphors used in the context of a medical crisis:
- War Metaphors
- Sports Metaphors
- Mechanical Metaphors
In this series of 10 blog posts, I will use the War metaphor to create a 20-rule roadmap based on my many years of professional experience as a Medical Coach and personal experience living with a chronic illness.
Each blog post will address 2 rules.
Why use the war metaphor? For two reasons:
- From my experience, it is the most used metaphor.
- Since Oct 7th, I have been physically living in a war zone.
I call it “If this feels like a battle, these are the rules – 20 Rules for times of crisis”.
(I got the idea for the structure of these posts from my colleague Sasha Khazanov and the inspiration for the name from the book If Life is a Game, These are the Rules, by my good friend Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott)
From my experience, the term ‘battle” can easily be replaced with the term struggle and apply to any overwhelming and frightening crisis.
The order of these rules is not important. Follow them in whichever order feels right for you.
In this post, I’ll address rules 1 and 2.
Rule #1 –
Not every crisis is a trauma, but some are.
Trauma wounds our internal system, leaving us at a loss for words, unable to comprehend the current reality and make sense while also feeling scared, overwhelmed, shocked, resourceless, and helpless.
When facing trauma, every reaction is a normal response to an abnormal situation.
Whether it is one of the 6 F’s – Freeze, Flight, Fight, Faint, Fraternize, or Faun or an emotion such as fear, anxiety, sadness, grief, numbness, anger, despair, frustration, empathy, or compassion – it is all normal because the response to trauma is personal and subjective.
Rule #2 –
This is a time to be extra sensitive, tender, and compassionate with yourself.
Any form of judgment regarding your emotions, thoughts, behaviors, or coping strategies is counterproductive and toxic at this point.
Avoid comparing yourself to others. Everyone copes in their own way and to the best of their ability at any given time. This is also true about comparing yourself now to yourself in the past.
Most trauma and crisis responses are automatic.
Remember two important things:
- Your experience is personal.
- Right now, you are doing your best with the available resources.
Sensitivity, tenderness, and compassion are important now.
In the next blog post, I will address rules 3 and 4.