The turmoil that we all create in our lives as a result of living out of balance is what I call self-inflicted crisis.
Before I expand further on this concept, it is important to recognize that what constitutes a crisis is a completely individual thing. A college student who has an exam tomorrow and hasn’t been to class for a month and cannot even find the book for the class, is in a crisis. A married couple that is struggling to the point of contemplating a divorce is in a crisis. You may think to yourself that these two examples of crisis are in no way equal, and from an outside perspective that is probably true.
However, from the standpoint of what the people involved are experiencing each crisis may be similar in intensity. While certainly the student’s crisis will last only a few hours, I would submit to you that those few hours for that student, given the frame of their life, are every bit as traumatic to the student as the weeks or months of turmoil are to the married couple. When we are in crisis, whatever that represents to us, that state of mind rules our thinking for however long the crisis lasts.
When we are in crisis, whatever that represents to us, that state of mind rules our thinking for however long the crisis lasts.
Self-inflicted crisis makes up the majority of all the crisis that most people deal with in their lives. Now you might sit back in your chair right now and say, “Todd, I do not inflict crisis on myself, and you are a crazy man if you think I do!” My craziness is not relevant, and I am not insinuating that you or anyone else inflicts crisis on themselves on purpose, but that actually is a moot point anyway. Whether we mean to do it or not, once we have a crisis on our hands we have to deal with it. Whether we jump from a balcony, fall from a balcony, or get pushed from a balcony, once we are off of the balcony we now have to deal with the crisis that we are in the air and on our way down! At that moment it becomes irrelevant how we left the balcony. We will be totally focused on how to land without hurting ourselves.
The majority of all self-inflicted crisis can be traced to one single word. That word is neglect. Neglect of anything of importance over time leads to crisis. The final neglect, which takes something from an impending crisis (which we may or may not know is coming) to a full blown crisis that now has our undivided attention, is what I call the “Butterfly Effect” neglect. (1)