Crisis mode: we’ve all been there. At some point in all of our lives, something’s happened to make us shut down in abject panic. Maybe it’s a family emergency, an unexpected accident, or a death. Or maybe it’s because you’ve been accused of a crime. And while that’s not the most common personal crisis we experience, it’s definitely something a lot of people face, and it’s exactly what happened to fitness influencer Brittany Dawn. If you haven’t been following her story, it can best be summarized with the simple explanation that Dawn was accused of scamming clients by charging them for diet and exercise plans that– at best– didn’t work and– at worst– actively contributed to the deterioration of their health.
With that said, the purpose of this article is not to debate the truth of these accusations or to argue that Brittant Dawn did or did not defraud her clients. Rather, I seek to use Dawn’s story as an example and offer practical strategies for what the average person can do if they ever find yourself in a similar situation. So, whether you’ve made a choice you regret or you’re the victim of a false accusation, here are some steps you can take to salvaging your life, career, and reputation.
- Step One: Be honest.
And start by being honest with yourself. No matter what’s happened, the very first step is to acknowledge the situation and be 100% honest with yourself in so doing. If something’s happened to you and you’re struggling with the weight of those circumstances, it’s crucial that you accept what’s happened so you can take the first steps toward getting help. And that leads to the next important phase: being honest with others. Even if you’re hurt and embarrassed, you can’t get help until you’re open with others about what’s happened to you and what you need. And the same goes for situations in which you made a bad choice.
If you’ve done something which had a negative impact on other people, it’s similarly vital that you admit that to yourself and to them. Because without that first admission, you can’t begin the healing process for yourself or for others. But don’t forget that even in those cases where you’re in the wrong, it’s still okay to ask others for help. Part of being honest is acknowledging that you want to change, and none of us can grow in a vacuum. Change is a process and it requires the influence, encouragement, and accountability of others. So, start the process with that first, honest step, and let the healing begin.
- Step Two: Take Responsibility
And that includes the responsibility of acknowledging that the healing process takes time. Whether that healing is for you, for others, or both, it’s important to keep in mind that it can’t happen overnight. So, give yourself and everyone else involved time to experience the full cycle of emotions that will be affecting them at this time, and acknowledge both the reality of that healing process and your responsibility in contributing to that healing. If you’re a victim, make a conscious effort at reminding yourself that you owe it to yourself and your personal development to keep growing, healing, and being kind to yourself through your struggles. Don’t expect the process to be instant and be patient with yourself through your setbacks.
And if it’s up to you to take responsibility for the damage you’ve caused, then you need to be realistic about that as well. Take time to consider the feelings of those who’ve been affected by your choices and what you can do to help them. Once you’re fully aware and fully honest about what you need to do, you can begin to make amends. Just remember to, above all, be genuine, be patient, and be kind.
- Step Three: Learn to Self-Support
This step is just as crucial, but most often overlooked. However, it’s important to remember that when you’re going through a crisis, it’s really easy to blame yourself or get lost in toxic, self-deprecating thoughts. And although that’s normal and happens to absolutely everyone, it’s so important that you don’t fall prey to that. So far from helping you reach the light at the end of the tunnel, toxic thoughts only drag you deeper into a pit of despair and self-hatred, and neither of those things are beneficial to the healing process.
So, how can you learn to support yourself? It’s important to start by being loyal and compassionate– to you! Although we normally focus on cultivating these qualities in relation to others, we often forget to extend that same courtesy to ourselves, especially in times of crisis.
And no matter what situation you find yourself in, you have to stay on top of your self-support rituals. Go for a walk. Remind yourself to eat. Consistently take your medicine or attend your therapy sessions, and make an active effort to reach out to the supportive people in your life. Likewise, remember that what you detox from is equally important. If you find that social media is negatively impacting your mental health, then take a break! Actively assess your needs and take care of yourself accordingly.
Although self-support looks different for everyone, the underlying attitude is the same, and it all starts with the acknowledgement that you deserve kindness, healing, and respect.
- Step Four: Do something.
Depression is deadly primarily because of how easily it sucks you in. Because when you’re reeling from a loss, the easiest thing to do is curl up in a blanket, cry, or complain about your problems to the world. And while all of those are completely valid responses to tragedy, they’re also unhealthy and unsustainable. So, when things are at the hardest and all you want is to give in, challenge yourself to make a positive difference in your life, to fight through it and re-write a different future for yourself. Start with simple tasks, like washing the dishes or caring for your pets, and if that’s all you can do right now, then acknowledge that that’s okay. Be proud of yourself and work up to bigger things, like applying for jobs or getting back into the routine of your ‘real’ life. No matter what, just take each step at a time, and don’t forget to congratulate yourself on your progress along the way.
- Step Five: Find what you can express the gratitude for
This one is always the hardest, because gratitude is never our first emotion when we’re hit with something painful. But no matter how hard it is to find them, those little bright spots are absolutely necessary for keeping us going. So, it’s okay if they’re small, and it’s okay if some days, you have to dig really deep to find anything that makes you feel positive about life. The important thing is that you’re looking. Because finding the bright side of life doesn’t just give you a little boost of positivity– it also helps your brain stay in survival mode by reminding you that there’s something worth living for. (For more resources on how gratitude expression impacts your brain, take a look at this study from the University of Indiana! Prathik Kini, Joel Wong, Sydney McInnis, Nicole Gabana, Joshua W. 2015. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.12.040)