A letter to our friends experiencing challenges from the bushfires

Written Byllcadmin

June 13, 2013

I have been watching the media coverage about the bushfires in the Eastern States of Australia as well as following the twitter feeds from the CFA and the NSW RFS. Like most people I am concerned for all people affected. Looking at the names of townships and communities under threat, they are virtually a roll call of the people I have been working with over the last two years on the topic of emotional resilience – about strategies to bounce through good and bad times.
While I am a little removed from the action, and relying only on media reports at this stage (and things may not be as bad as they appear through the media), I thought I would do my little bit to provide some strategies and clues to help people get through these challenges.
Here are some clues and strategies that may help you through this next period of time;
  1. Look after your own, your family’s and your friend’s physical well being. To be blunt, you are no good to anyone injured or worse. Heed the advice of authorities of making early decisions about leaving of staying. Think about what’s good for the family. While there will be an urge to fight/defend (because that’s what we do!) think through what is possible and wise. Better to be around to rebuild and keep going than be “that person” who was the hero and lost everything. STAY SAFE
  2. Accept help. I don’t know the detail, but already governments are authorising emergency cash aid. ACCEPT IT. It may not be much but it is a start. For those of you who are reluctant to accept aid, look at it this way – you have been paying your taxes for a long time – this is just a benefit of that contribution. Work with Centrelink, Salvation Army and similar agencies to understand what is on offer and accept it. Communities are known for their generosity during these periods – as we know, it is someone else this time – next time it will be us! What goes around comes around so accept help.
  3. Get through this period. Focus on what you can control and accept what you can’t control yet. This thing has happened and the time for action will be soon but right now, let other people and other authorities do what they have to do to get the communities back and operating. They are just doing their job and trying to keep everybody safe. Let them do that without getting angst from people they are trying to help – and remember some of these people are your mates!
  4. Accept and understand you are going to go through a period of extreme frustration wanting to get on with things but can’t -YET. You will see things that have to be done, e.g. rebuild fences, check on stock levels etc but can’t get to it – yet. My advice to handle this frustration is to divert this physical frustration into positive thinking energy. Start planning and making lists of activities to do in sequence to get your business on track as soon as possible. When the time does come for action, you are totally prepared and people know what’s to be done, where, by whom and when.
  5. Talk to your providers, eg financial institutions, agronomy providers, rural retailers. They are as concerned about getting you back on your feet so be proactive and initiate conversations as to next steps, implications the 2013 bushfires may have on existing plans and your contingency plans to deal with the situation. Build confidence in other people that you have and are progressing plans and embrace these providers as opposed to withdrawing from them.
  6. IT IS WHAT IT IS. This thing has happened. It may be ugly and all those other emotions that you have – but it has happened. It isn’t a deliberate “crack” at you by some mystical force it’s just a part of living where you live and doing what you do. It’s happened and now let’s deal with it.
  7. What’s your inner voice saying to you right now? Are you talking to yourself in positive terms or negative terms? If it is negative, can you reframe it it? Can some of these strategies help in reframing these thoughts? These thoughts will structure our feelings and behaviours and interactions with others. See if these thoughts can be driven from a positive space as opposed to a negative space.
  8. Watch your children. Be straight with them in telling them what is happening and what the plan is for recovery. How you interact with your children (especially the younger ones) will influence how they deal with challenging times for the rest of their lives and also it could shape your relationship with them for the rest of your life. Be upfront, talk about what has, and what is going to happen, show emotion and then give structure as to next steps, As long as this structure is there, I think most of the children will get through OK. How they get through this will be determined by your behaviour.
  9. Watch your mates. We are just about to see the best of human behaviour (in the majority of cases). This behaviour will be about reaching out to others. Care for your mates and have that conversation about “how are they”, “is there anything we can do” and if you are concerned, voice your concern. Look for the behaviours of withdrawal, unreasonable irritability etc.
  10. Get busy. There are things to be done so do them. Having said this, understand that the real challenge to your emotions is not now, it’s in three months’ time. That’s when the attention will be off you (and by then the media will be tracking the Melbourne Football Club’s glorious ascension to the 2013 AFL premiership!). Other people will move on and you will be left with it. That’s when it will hit you and that’s when the hard times will start. That’s when community support and connectivity through having functions such as the bar-b-ques, quiet celebrations and discussions will be so vital. That’s when that telephone call to someone you have noticed isn’t around as much will be so vital. That’s when your own personal resilience strategies will be so important to you. Know these emotions last much longer than the events.
  11. Give. I know this may sound strange given the circumstances that you may be in personally but understand the gift of giving. It releases so many positive emotions in us and it reminds us that (1) we are not alone and (2) there may be people worst off than us.
  12. Finally, let me say the obvious, you will survive this. Last year it was another challenge which you survived (maybe floods), this year it’s the bushfires, next year, it will be something else (hopefully a lot less traumatic). As you survived last year, you will survive this one and you will grow and continue to enjoy all the good things of life.
Further Support

I hope these strategies have been useful. Lessons Learnt Consulting is here to offer as much support as people need. Here are some avenues of support that we can offer.

Webinars – On the first working Monday of each month from (February to December 2013)at 8.00 pm (eastern standard time) we are hosting a webinar on strategies around Emotional Resilience. We started these in 2012 and had a great response so we intend to continue them in 2013. These webinars are interactive and of course are free to participate and are open to anyone who in interested and who would benefit. These webinars are recorded and are also available in this format.

Facebook – I (through the marvellous support of my children) have started a Facebook group called Resilient People. On this page, we source articles about positive strategies, areas of interest and positive affirmations that may be of assistance. Should you wish to join this group, and if you are a member of Facebook, please contact me on the details provided below. This will give you access to all the articles.
Audio CDs-based on requests from our clients, we have produced an audio CD – 5 Tips to Developing Personal Resilience. This CD provides practical tips to maintain your own resilience. It is of around 30 minutes duration and has a small investment of $20 (excluding postage and handling).
www.lessonslearntconsulting.com is just about to be relaunched in the last week of January 2013. The intention of this website is to provide ongoing support to our friends throughout Australia and overseas.
Speaking engagements: We are available to attend communities groups to talk on the topic of emotional resilience. We have a strong track record of conducting and participating in these type of presentations.

For more information on this article or on these areas for further support, please contact Lessons Learnt Consulting on 1300 365 119 or Dennis J. Hoiberg directly on 0418 384 619 or at info@lessonslearntconsulting.com

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