As a hospice chaplain for fourteen years, Becky Sansbury walked beside hundreds of people who were “rocked by shock”.
Awed by their resilience, she vowed to bring their wisdom to the world.
Becky has combined the ground breaking research in Post Traumatic Growth with her rock solid experience in crisis recovery to create After the Shock™, a resilience building process.
She speaks and consults with businesses, colleges and organizations to equip them to rebound from reaction to resilience, before or after a crisis. Her message of practical hope bridges the gap between good intentions and effective actions.
Becky cares passionately about helping people strengthen their resilience so they can face their fears, find their footing, and move forward with confidence.
It’s my honor to have Becky Sansbury as my guest on Straight Talk Radio.
Tired of traditional talk? People pontificating about this or that? The left or the right? Sometimes the truth is just off lost in the noise. Having learned life lessons the hard way, Chuck Gallagher, international speaker and author, cuts through the noise to share truth through transparency!
Nationally known guests talk about what’s important to you – your life, your concerns and your success. So tune in, turn on to Straight Talk with Chuck Gallagher.
Now, here’s your host, Chuck Gallagher.
CHUCK: Hi, this is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio and thank you so much for joining us. I want to go back in time for just a moment. Go with me on this journey. It was 1990. I was a tax partner in a CPA firm. I’d testified before Congress. I’d written articles on national tax magazines and I was teaching a Continuing Professional Education course to a bunch of CPAs. Now, for those of you listening on the radio, you’re probably thinking, oh, my goodness! How boring would that be. But life seems to be wonderful. I mean, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. And we broke for lunch. I was in Boise, Idaho. I’ll never forget the location, but Boise, Idaho. My stomach was on East-Coast time. My body was in Mountain Time. I was kind of hungry, but we broke to get a bite to eat and there was a note on the door that said, “While you were out: Call your office ASAP,” and when I called the office, I was confronted with something that I had not anticipated and did not wanted to be confronted with and that is I was confronted with the truth, and the truth was that in the midst of all of the success I had also made some incredibly stupid choices and the consequences of those choices were staring me in the face.
It was a crisis. I knew that life as I had created it for myself, for my wife, for my family, for the friends around me, for the partners I had participated with in the firm, I knew that that life was going to change. In fact, if I survive the night, which was in question, the reality was I was in shock and other people were going to be facing the shock of their life by what I was going to reveal. You see, I had created a Ponzi scheme. I didn’t know what it was called at the time, but certainly that was not a positive experience for anyone, especially someone that has been trusted, as I was, as a CPA.
I only wish that I had had access to Becky Sansbury and her new book After the Shock, because I will tell you that I and many people around me were struggling trying to put pieces back together from a life that I broke, well I would say intentionally. It certainly wasn’t intentional at the time, but by my choices it certainly was intentional because every choice has a consequence.
So today, you need to listen to this show because if you have been faced with crisis, crisis because I’ve lost a job, crisis because I was just told that my child was diagnosed with cancer, crisis because my husband or wife came home and said they found another love, crisis that takes place in life, crisis because you were diagnosed with something that you didn’t want to face or that someone had broken trust like I did with my wife. My guest today, Becky Sansbury, is an expert when it comes to crisis care and I am so thrilled to have her and feature her new book After the Shock on this radio show called Straight Talk Radio. So, Becky, I’m so thrilled to have you. Thank you for joining me today.
BECKY: Thank you, Chuck. It’s a privilege to be with you, particularly with someone who understands crisis as a reality.
CHUCK: Yeah, crisis is a reality that sucks. Now, that’s just the easy simple way to put it and yet, Becky, you know and I know because of the work that you do and because of the experience that I’ve had, I don’t know how to put this, but if you live long enough, there are going to be times in life when we are faced with what sometimes seems like insurmountable crisis. I’ve got to ask you the question. You have written an incredible book, and I have to say this. I don’t always say this whenever I’m doing the show. I’ve had the opportunity to look at a lot of books, to read a lot of books, but, Becky, your book is… It’s first class.
BECKY: Thank you.
CHUCK: It is. It is quite amazing. After the Shock: Getting You Back On The Toad to Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On was released this summer and it has received literally a claim from every part of the county. Okay, let’s go backwards a little bit. Tell me a little bit about what motivated you to write this incredible book.
BECKY: Life and a sacred trust. I had the privilege of coming along in a time I could choose any career I wanted to. Not all women get to do that. I happened to choose the career of ministry and along the way, after some traditional paths and some great life experiences, I hit some major bumps in the road myself. Between 1977 and 1979 I lost three babies.
CHUCK: Oh, my!
BECKY: And a few years later was blessed to have two children born to our family. So it took that rollercoaster route for me. Shortly after our second daughter was born, my 33 year old husband had a massive stroke. Made a good physical recovery. Unfortunately, ended up with some severe mental health challenges which at that time he was not able or willing to address and put our family in peril. So the girls and I had a different direction. Just to let your listeners know, there are Phoenixes that rise out of ashes and he did eventually get help and restored himself to a good life and our family has very much reconciled. So, it is that rollercoaster. As I took my courses and training and seminary, I realized that life does like you say, “Just hit you in the face,” and I wanted to be able to help people at these times so I chose chaplaincy as that route. Did all the intense, theological and situational training, trained in a Trauma, medical center, and went through a year of those kinds of intense situations with folks, and found that I had a calling to work as a hospice chaplain.
By the way, when I was hired as a hospice chaplain in 1989, people weren’t talking about it. Oprah wasn’t saying a word about hospice back then.[Chuck laughs]
BECKY: So when I had a chance for the job interview, I had to run to the library and find out what hospice was. Fortunately, it was like an arranged marriage. They needed a chaplain fast. I needed the job fast. We got together and fell in love.
CHUCK: Well, that’s awesome.
BECKY: I stayed with that program for 14 years. During that time I saw folks, as Dickens said “in the worst of times” and yet in some ways in the best of times for those folks who found a way to even flourish in the mist of most dire circumstance that life can throw at us. I saw that there were patterns of resilience in those folks and I’ve admired that and made mental note out of it. In fact, I’m happy to say I’ve made a few physical notes of it.
Along the way, the recession came and struck our country and I had the privilege of working with a team that walked along folks in career crisis and helped them find their way through that challenge in time.
I stepped back and had, as anybody would, other family crises that come along, ageing parents, and father who died, and helping my mother learn how to be a widow, and suddenly I found myself in a unique situation with a second marriage that was ending and complete career indecision. I thought I was going to be heading into business with someone who suddenly told me I was too old, not smart enough to be his business partner, and I was in a bit of a tough spot, Chuck. Maybe a little different from yours, but my own tough spot.
CHUCK: Well, and tough spots come in different ways and I’ve learned along the way and I know you know the same thing is true, your tough spot is just as significant for you as my tough spot if for me as someone else’s is for them. It becomes easy to judge other people’s tough spots and yet at the same time we don’t know, as we walk through daily life, what everybody is facing and what could take place.
BECKY: That’s so true. So, I was fortunate. I hired a business coach to help me and she said to me words that guided the development of this book. She said, “Becky, if you really want to help people, you must have a process and a product to give to them. Otherwise, it’s just a lot of words.” So, that was when I sat down and took those years of experience, my own and others’ and the professional training that I’ve had and developed “after the shock” process and then wrote the book based on it.
CHUCK: Well, I have to say, first thing for those people that are listening, you’ve heard in short Becky’s story. Becky, I want to say this, the book is incredible and for anybody that has come in to that place in life where you are situationally in shock or facing the shock of your life or trying to get back on track. If you go to amazon.com and search After the Shock, After the Shock with author Becky Sansbury, you can find the book there. I’ve had the opportunity to review the book and, Becky, we’re going to talk about this after out next break, but you’ve got some really cool graphs in there. You’ve got some things that help this old analytical mind of mine–[Becky laughs]
CHUCK: Kind of move passed the emotion of the issue to understand the process of the issue and it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion sometimes and forget that there’s a lot of emotion that takes place, but if I move through the process and understand what I’m supposed to do, it certainly can make that transformational process or as you put it “the road to recovery” much easier.
BECKY: That’s the plan.
CHUCK: That’s the plan. Now, we are about a minute away from a break. So, I want to ask you a quick question with the minute that we’ve got and that is, you’ve had professional training, you’ve got a Master’s in Divinity. You’ve had professional training. You have been a head chaplain with hospice. I would suppose you’ve been through CPE training at WakeMed.
BECKY: That’s correct. That’s right. Definitely.
CHUCK: Of those, which of those were most significant to you in writing the book?
BECKY: I would say the clinical pastoral education, because it was right there in the trenches with folks. The theory helped. The theory only does you so much good unless you use it.
CHUCK: I can understand that. My wife went through CPE at WakeMed as well so there’s an interesting connection, even though you probably didn’t know that. This is Chuck Gallagher. We’re on Straight Talk Radio. My guest is Becky Sansbury and she has written great new book called After the Shock: Getting You Back On The Road to Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On. We’re going to come back and we’re going to talk about some of those shocks and some of the processes in this book that might be able to help. So, stick with us. We’ll be back in just a moment.[Commercial break]
CHUCK: Seeing the underlying principles of crisis response, stabilization and resilience within multiple areas of disruption, Becky Sansbury, my guest here on Straight Talk Radio, has developed a new book, After the Shock, which provides a guide to individuals and organizations from reactionary response to crisis to stabilization and eventually resilience.
Now, that’s sounds like a lot stuff to say, but the reality is Becky has been able with training, within the trenches work, with the experience personally to help people see what the process is that can move us forward to, as she puts it, “Resilience and back on the road to recovery,” so to speak. Becky, let me ask you a question. You said you did a Continuing or a CPE, a Clinical Pastoral Education at WakeMed and served in hospice. Tell us some stories about some of the experience, without revealing personal information, that you saw and how this book could have helped them through that.
BECKY: Why don’t we take one couple and track them right through the process?
BECKY: About Bill and Margie. Bill and Margie are your average middle-aged American couple, working, two kids in high school, parents recently retired off doing their retirement thing. Margie’s not been feeling well. She does the right thing because she’s a health nut. She runs. She eats these organic vegetables. She does all the things we’re supposed to.
After several appointments her doctor sends her to a specialist. She’s afraid. So Bill decides he’ll take some time off from work and go with her. The doctor sits down. Very clinically spouts a lot of medical language and Bill hears four words, and four words only: stage-four ovarian cancer. Beyond that the conversation is a blur. They get handed a sheet of papers. They walk out into the bright sunlight and they can’t believe that the rest of the world is still going on just like it was when they walked into the doctor’s office, because their world has just crashed.
BECKY: After multiple medical procedures, chemotherapy treatments and other avenues of medical care it’s determined that Margie really faces two choices. Either on-going to care that’s going to do nothing but make her feel terrible or what we call palliative care or comfort care with hospice support and that’s where I came into their world.
One of the things that I think will guide all of us through this next segment of conversation is taking a look at the image that I use to help explain the “after the shock” process.
BECKY: At something that they used to get to that medical appointment and that’s a car. We’re pretty familiar with those. Four tires, frame, steering component, some fuel to make it go, and that’s exactly the image of the “after the shock” process. So, let me tell you quickly what those seven parts of the car are and then take Bill and Margie through them. The four tires are four levels of ways that we can grip into stability, Chuck. It’s like that’s where the rubber meets the road.
BECKY: A cliché, but it works. Those four tires we can compare to comfort, control, community and connection to something beyond our-self. Those are our four grounding points in life and they really, really have to stabilize us.
Then we’ve got the frame of the car. That’s like our experience, the experience that we’re going through. When you crawl into your car, it protects you from everything else going on. When a person is in crisis, they feel like everything is falling apart and they have to handle everything and decide everything. But really, what they need to do is focus on one thing, like crawling into that car frame and protecting them against everything else and then within it, not only can they see perhaps where they want to go but they’ve got the advantage of that rearview mirror. They can look back to other experience and lessons and learn from them and they can also have the passenger along to give them some guidance, but a car isn’t going to get you anywhere unless you can steer it and we’re steered by our assumptions and our beliefs. They head us where we need to go, but sometimes they head us where we don’t want to go. So, we’ve got to take a look at them and make sure that we’re putting our energy into the ones that are going to head us the right way.
And finally, just like we got to have that fuel tank filled up in the car, we’ve got resources: our own and other people’s, what we have, what we need and deciding what’s going to be the best for the moment. So those are actually the seven steps of the “after the shock” process.
Now, we can step back and take Bill and Margie through ways that they can use those processes, or those steps, rather, to help ease the bumps, no, the potholes that they had just fallen into. When we thing about comfort—Well, when you think about comfort, what, when you’re in a tough time, what helps you feel more comfortable?
CHUCK: [chuckles] A glass of ice tea. That’s probably–
BECKY: Perfect. That’s true. That is one of them
CHUCK: That’s probably not the most comforting thing, but I’ll be a start.
BECKY: That’s right. So, there are the things that we’re used to eating and drinking. I mean, why do people show up with casseroles? There’s a good reason. It’s comfort food.
BECKY: We want to crawl into comfortable clothes. We want to be with people who make us feel comfortable. We may want our pets around us or not. We may have other parts of life, traditions or rituals, that make us feel comfortable and so all of those are important. So for Bill and Margie, one of the things that was important for them as soon as they left that doctor’s appointment was realizing that, frankly, Starbucks is a comfort place for them. They needed to go there just to debrief for a few minutes and have that special cup of something that tasted good to them. We have it seems sometimes like it’s almost insignificant, but if there’s anything that I’ve learned about crisis and getting through it, it is the little things that do help us get through the big things so thinking about and paying attention to those things that make us feel comfortable is very important.
CHUCK: Now, Becky, let me ask you a question, okay?
CHUCK: You’re carrying us through Bill and Margie, but if I’m sitting here on the show, if I’m listening to this, I’m going to say, “Well, you know, Gee, that sounds all really nice. I’ve just been told I have stage-four freaking cancer. I’m not thinking about this process. I’m not thinking about tires. I’m not thinking about a car. I’m not thinking about a steering wheel. I’m not thinking about food. I’m not thinking.” So how do you find that first, I don’t know what the word is, that first stopping point or starting point whenever you are so confused you can’t think straight.
BECKY: You’re absolutely right. One of the things I tell folks is that crisis is an equal opportunity scrambler.[Chuck laughs]
BECKY: It scrambles our brains. It scrambles our schedules, our lives, everything, and it doesn’t matter how well educated you are, how normally wise you are or, frankly, how wealthy you are. It does it to all of us, Chuck. So that is a great perception. One of the things that I encourage people to do right now is just like the fireman, the policeman, the folks in the military, make some preparations ahead of time. One of the things that I do in the book is I give folks a place where they can go ahead and write down what’s important to me in any parts of this process. Where do these fit in for me?
When a crisis comes, I suggest that you hand that book to your spouse, to your best friend or somebody you trust and say, “I can’t think of a thing, but I wrote some important things down here. Would you pay attention to them so whether you do it in my book or a journal or a piece of paper that’s stuck to back of your computer?” I really encourage folks: when you’re not in crisis, make some notes about the people and experiences and the parts of life that matter so when the crisis comes, you’ve got something. When you can’t think straight, you can hand somebody something. It’s kind of like keeping your password somewhere that somebody else can get them if you trust that person.
CHUCK: Right. Becky, it’s interesting that you say that because for years I’ve been involved in the funeral industry in various forms and one of the things, of course, is the concept of pre-planning. I’m not talking about purchasing in advance, although, that may make sense, but it’s that concept of when death occurs, who do you contact? My wife has been crystal clear with me. She said, “Okay, now, I want you to contact these people. Here’s where the list is. Here are the telephone numbers. I will keep the numbers updated. Here’s what I want to have happened.” She is aware of the fact that there is a mortality to life and that when her time comes, if I’m still living, this is what she wants to have happened. In essence, you’re saying, “Prepare for the crisis,” hoping perhaps that the crisis might never come.
BECKY: That’s exactly why the police, the firemen, the military train and prepare and train and prepare so when the crisis comes they move into that automatic mode of being able to take care of the rest of us.
CHUCK: We’re pushing close on a break, but you talk about, and we need to get back to Bill and Margie, but you talk about chronic crisis, life-altering change, acute crisis and difficulty so I think one of the things that we can talk about, after you carry us through the rest of your example, is understanding that there are different types crises that will come into our life and that probably creates different types or different levels of response.
BECKY: Absolutely. It does, both, in ourselves and people around us because I need to remember those other folks may set off their panic buttons, too.
CHUCK: It’s fascinating that you say that before we go to break in a minute, and that is what happens in our life, and I don’t know the circumstance and I don’t need to, by the way, but you said, “A second marriage failed.” Well, somewhere along that process, either you made that decision or he made that decision, but whoever made it first, it still had an impact on someone else, much like me making the choices that I made and having to come home tell my partners that I was at the time nothing more than a liar and a thief and the same to my wife. It set off a ripple effect that impacted many, many people and I can promise you, I know that my wife would have benefited from your book After the Shock because certainly it was a crisis and it was a shock to her.
This is Chuck Gallagher. I’m with Straight Talk Radio and my guest is Becky Sansbury. She is the author of a great new book called After the Shock: Getting You Back On The Road to Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On and we will be back after this break and talk more.
BECKY: Okay.[Commercial break]
CHUCK: This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio and if you have ever been in crisis, you’ve lost a job, your employer said, “I’m sorry, we’re downsizing,” your wife said, “Nah, I don’t think this is working,” or you made choices that could be significant and change things. Poor financial transactions, bankruptcy, DUI, caring for an ill parent, there’s a multitude of things that we face in life that are crisis and this great, great new book by my guest Becky Sansbury – After the Shock: Getting You Back On The Road to Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On – can be found on Amazon and I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of this. This is probably the best book that I have seen on this topic, ever. So, I am thrilled to have Becky on the show. Thank you so much for joining us.
BECKY: Thank you, Chuck. Man, that’s a great lead-in and I truly appreciate it.
CHUCK: This book has been acclaimed by so many people and after having an opportunity to take a look, it’s quite incredible. Becky, you we’re talking to us about this couple, sort to speak, Bill and Margie and kind of leading us through the process when she was diagnosed with stage-four, I think you said it was, ovarian cancer. Carry us on this journey a bit.
BECKY: Certainly. So, Bill and Margie– To help them, the aspect of comfort, we touched on that in the first segment.
BECKY: You’ve raised a great question. So how do you make your way through this process when you can’t even recall your name? This is where you really need a safe stranger, I call it, that person who you trust, but is not the person you go home with every night and a person who can help bring some discernment, some calm and walk beside you. Sometimes it’s a professional and it may be from the medical community, from your background, from the financial community. It may be a wise friend. It may be someone that has been a bit of a friend, but not too close, who has that safe distance, but that’s how you get your way through this until you start to figure out, at least how to spell your name again.
BECKY: So, let’s take a look quickly at these next phases of going through stability. The next is, so obvious, everything is out of control. What I have found, Chuck, is that when people can find even one tiny thing from their day-to-day life over which they feel they can regain some control, even if it’s making sure they get up and, for gentlemen, shave their face in the morning, then it makes other tiny aspects of control start to come into line and also we feel like I’ve got some shred of control and it is indeed a stabilizing factor.
Then the next part is our community: community of family, friends, co-workers, faith group, civic organizations, neighborhood, whatever it may be. These are the folks that you reach out to. Sometimes it means swallowing your pride, but it means that we’ve got that extra wheel on the ground. People who know me enough or someone I can give this book to and say, “Read this and help me figure this out,” but a variety of folks who can come together because, ultimately, not everybody has all the answers and not everybody is going to have the stamina to see me through the whole way of the course.
CHUCK: Becky, on the community thing. I want to ask you two questions.
CHUCK: And these are probably both a bit out there, but let’s talk for just a moment about people who are facing crisis and perhaps who choose suicide as a solution. I’m going to be the first to say, on this show, I’m not an expert in your area in any way, shape or form, but it would appear that when crisis is so deep and the dark night of the soul is so powerful that you choose suicide, perhaps what is missing is community. Is that willingness to reach out to other people and to believe that those other people can have anything that would be of value to you? Do you have any thoughts on that?
BECKY: Very briefly, Chuck. I think there’s two ways of looking at this. There’s the ongoing mental health challenge that drives a person to suicide and then there’s situational grief, despondency, overwhelm, sense of guilt that would send someone to it. I’m not going to address at all the mental health issues. That’s a far deeper and more complex issue.
Situationally, you are right that it takes either me, the person in crisis reaching out, or, hopefully, having someone or more than one someone in my life who will reach directly to me. On a day when I was having a major crisis of my soul, I happened to be working with that business coach who realized the desperation I was in and here’s what she did and it ties right back to control. She said, “Becky, I’m giving you an assignment and normally, we wouldn’t talk again until next week, but I want you to have this assignment ready tomorrow morning when we’re going to talk again at 9 o’clock. In fact, I want you to email this assignment to me before 10 o’clock tonight and then we’ll talk about it tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock.” She gave me something that I could do and then she gave me the opportunity to be in control of my sense of responsibility to meet my assignment and indeed, I completed that assignment, I made it through that night and I did talk to her at 9 o’clock the next morning. A few days ago I went back into my electronic files. I found that assignment. I’ve re-read it and I gave great thanks for her and for what she had handed to me that allowed me to feel a shred of control over my life again.
CHUCK: Becky, something that really strikes me from what you just said, because I know in my family there have been people that have chosen suicide and the interesting part of what you just said, which I think is valuable to people, is if you found someone who is incredibly depressed, we may not have the skill or talent to be able to move them through depression, but we certainly can recognize when people are depressed, despondent, then give them something to do. Create an experience that allows them, as you’ve just said, “To be in control and create a way to follow up,” because at least, if there’s something to do and something to follow up with outside of anything else, I don’t have to be a psychiatrist, a psychologist or have a Master’s in Divinity or have any skill, but I certainly can say, “Hey, can you do this for me? Can you have it back to me by a certain time?” and realize that you are actually doing something that has been official and helpful.
BECKY: Absolutely, and actually that leads us right to that forth tire. We need a connection to something that’s beyond myself or just yourself. We need to be tied to things that are bigger. For some people they find that in their formal religion or a general spirituality. People find it in politics. They find it in sports. They find it in allegiance to their own alma mater. They find it in nature, in music, the arts. But it’s something that’s bigger than me and it helps me put my life and my situation in context. I may not sit here and analyze it and say, “I’m putting my life into context through cheering up my favorite football team this weekend.”[Chuck laughs]
BECKY: But that’s what we’re doing and that then allows us to feel that final part of stability. What happened, whether it was Bill and Margie me or you or whoever is what we can then take that and crawl into our frame of current experience with something on the ground under us, more than just a frame of a car sitting on the ground.
BECKY: And when we are there, then we can breathe just a little bit because there’s something that happens when you close that car door. You’re just tucked inside there and that’s what we need to do for ourselves and other people is help them find that safe spot where they can kind of tuck inside and let the other things go on around them. They don’t have to take care of it all. I don’t have to take care of it all.
So, whether you are the safe stranger for somebody or you’re the person right in the bull’s eye, this is an important opportunity, because then we can catch that breath you were talking about earlier when you can’t even think and you are able to say, “You know, I haven’t been through this, but I went through the experience when this happened to my grandmother. I went through a time when my colleague had something similar happen or I’ve read it in a book or I saw it in the movies,” something that helps to get our mind focused on there are life lessons here, and then if you come up with a complete blank, remember, you’ve got that safe stranger, that passenger with you. That’s a whole lot better than Siri or GPS as great as they are. We need people and sometimes we need just one or two people. That’s probably the reason I like to drive a car that only holds a few people rather than a van with 15, as I did back in the days when I was a youth leader. I get lost in all that noise and confusion. But one or two people, that’s a great help and it helps me sift through those life lessons that work. At that point, then you’re ready to steer.
CHUCK: Becky, I do have one question. We’re coming up on a break. Maybe it’s just me, so I’m going to say that on the front end of this radio show, but I get so irritated when someone has an issue or a challenge and they’re telling you about their issue or challenge and somebody else than immediately steers it back to them. Like, “I was diagnosed with cancer.” “Well, when I was diagnosed…” and then they go off onto this tirade and it’s like, “Wait a minute. This isn’t about you! It’s about me. I’m the one needing to have a talk.” Now, we’ve got 30 seconds. Any comments on that before we go to break?
BECKY: Don’t ever say, “I know exactly how you feel.” You don’t.
CHUCK: Right. That is absolutely true. You don’t know how they feel.
BECKY: One thing to [37:32], but you don’t know exactly how that other person feels.
CHUCK: This is Chuck Gallagher. We’re on Straight Talk Radio. My guest is Becky Sansbury. She has been working over 25 years with individuals and organizations focused on crisis care. She has written a wonderful new book. After the Shock: Getting You Back On The Road to Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On. We’re finishing up the third segment of our show. You stick with us. We’ll be back in just a minute to talk more with Becky.
CHUCK: If you ever had a crisis or ever been in crisis, you know what that’s like. Many years back, in 1997, I was diagnosed with a prostate cancer. I was shocked when I got that diagnosis. It was not something that I anticipated. I was a bit too young for that, but it happens, and then the question is, what next?
My guest is Becky Sansbury. She has written this wonderful book called. After the Shock: Getting You Back On The Road to Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On. So, Becky, let’s get back on the road to how do we help people who are dealing with shock or how do those people who are dealing with shock find that ability to get help?
BECKY: Chuck, one of the best things we can do is be quite, briefly, look and listen. It’s amazing when we feel that we’re a friend to someone or we’re in a family with someone and they get whammed and the immediate reaction for us is by standards, even loving by standards is, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say.
Fortunately, for the majority of people, they figure out something even if it’s like I said, “Showing up with a casserole.” That’s not such a bad thing. And hugs are good, too. But sometimes people get scared away and simply become invisible. Invisible support can be, I guess, helpful. You’re sending good energy their way, but we need a lot more than that. So, paying attention to what’s this person like in their normal day-to-day life when they’re not in crisis. How do they run their life? What do they do? Where do they go? How do they keep themselves? What’s important? What do they like? And suddenly, in the midst of that we can find way that’s appropriate for us to fit in whether it is providing things, whether it’s providing services, whether it is saying, “Do you want go bowling tonight to just to get your mind off of things?”
Whatever it might be, or providing help for the family, one of the things that’s very important to be aware of is what we look at in the sixth out of seven steps of the process, and that’s what’s that person’s beliefs or assumptions? What guides them through life? One of the ones I found so frequently that could be either a huge help or an incredible hindrance was this one, “My family and my friends will be there for me through all of this.” Now, when that works, wow! They’re right next to person’s religious faith. There’s nothing more powerful than that. But let’s face it, Chuck, sometimes people just aren’t equipped to help. Sometimes they lose interest. Sometimes they just flat wear out in the process and they fall by the wayside.
That means the person in crisis has got two devastations to deal with. One, I don’t have the help I was counting on, and two, man, if I believe this and this is false, then maybe everything I believe is false. So it’s making sure that we can look at or make adjustments in life for those beliefs and assumptions that are going to work for us. If you have any awareness of what a person believes, then being there to help support that is really important for them. It’s like helping them steer the car. And the final one is–
CHUCK: Before you go there.[Becky chuckles]
CHUCK: So I’ve got a question.
CHUCK: So, you’re going through a divorce. Okay, well, we need people close to us, friends and family, but family is splintered on the divorce and friends are splintered on the divorce which means that then you end up with fractured groups, sort to speak. It’s, not to be funny with this statement, but it’s like being an American, but are you a Bernie Sanders Democrat or a Donald Trump Republican because they are so far apart that it’s hard to find the common ground of where you’re going to get support just as an American citizen.
BECKY: That’s a great point, Chuck. One of the things if you are the person in the crisis that you need to quickly do is simply find for yourself the one or two people that you do identify with, with whom you do feel safe and who will be a bit of your chart and compass right now, because you’re absolutely right. What we have counted on socially, sometimes within our church, heaven forbid you, work in the same place, you are going to have those extremes and pools of difference and fracture. But again, it’s coming down to just a few people, a few experiences taking on a few problems. One at a time and that’s one of the toughest things in crisis is feeling like I have to take care of everybody. I have to take care of every problem. I have to pay every bill, today. I have to solve everything for my child in school today. It’s bringing your world down into a tighter focus to just take on one or two things at a time to just align with one or two people at a time and to just address one or two things in yourself at a time.
CHUCK: Okay. That makes sense.
BECKY: Then you’re able to use and take a look at resources. What do I have? What do I need? Who can help me get what I perceive that I need? And who can also help me take a look at, maybe I’ve changed cars, theoretically, not in actuality. But if we’re going to use this car image, have you ever changed cars, perhaps going from a hybrid to a diesel-driven car or some other form of fuel?
CHUCK: Well, not exactly. I’ve changed cars plenty of times, but nothing that’s terribly dramatic.
BECKY: Well, just suppose, you had been driving a diesel-driven car and suddenly you made a choice to go into a hybrid, but you pulled into the Shell station and you tried to pump diesel fuel into it. What do you think is going to happen to that car?
CHUCK: Yeah. It’s not going to be too good. No, no.
BECKY: And that’s often what happens. A crisis either temporarily or permanently changes the resources that we have and that we need. Again, having that safe stranger with us or that companion, who helps us to take a look at, “Buddy, I think you need to move down to the next pump,” that’s where you’re going to get what you need for right now. Remembering that some of those decisions and choices that we make in a time of crisis don’t need to be our permanent ones, therefore right now, therefore this time. When your arm is broken, you put in a splint to help it heal, but if it heals properly, you don’t go through the rest of your life wearing a splint. At least I hope not.
BECKY: Or a sling. So there are things that we do in the midst of crisis, Whether it’s the resources, the people that we’re with, what comforts us, the choices we make that help us through that time so that we can get on to another time and make more permanent choices for our life when things are stable and our brains aren’t so scrambled.
CHUCK: When crisis hits you have indicated and we’re coming up toward end of the show, but you’ve indicated that there are different types of crisis. There’s those crises that will last for the rest of our lives and there’s those crises that happen and seem like the world just came to an end and yet we know that over time it will ultimately resolve. How do you, and quickly, how do you address the difference between a job loss and a cancer diagnosis, yet on the day for that person it seems both potentially quite significant?
BECKY: You acknowledge the immediate pain. Have you ever had a really bad papercut?
CHUCK: Oh, yeah. [chuckles] I hate those things.
BECKY: Yep. They hurt like mad and, frankly, depending on where that cut occurs, it can be very inconvenient, but hopefully if you take care of it within a day or two, you’re going to be able to use that finger, or that part of your hand, or whatever it is, pretty well again. It is being both with yourself and with another person, patient to understand that it hurts like mad right now, but also that perspective point of “it’s not going to hurt forever”. That’s a tough thing to do for yourself unless you’re an extremely balanced person, but it is something that you can do for someone else.
CHUCK: Becky, I appreciate you taking the time with me. If you want to find Becky, it’s at beckysansbury.com. Her book is After the Shock: Getting You Back On The Road to Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On. Look, I’m going to make a recommendation here. Go to Amazon, find the book and buy the book and the reason why I’m suggesting this is if you are currently in shock or going through a challenge in life, the book is outstanding. I would also suggest: this is the book that you want to buy and have available so when someone next door or in your family has a problem, give them a copy of the book. Don’t wait and try to remember what it is. It’s After the Shock: Getting You Back On The Road to Resilience When Crisis Hits You Head On.
Becky, I want to give you high praise for the book. It is absolutely wonderful and thank you for what you are doing to try to help people who are dealing with life-changing circumstances. Again, my guest is Becky Sansbury. The book is After the Shock. This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio. Thank you for joining us on this show and stay tuned for more enlightening shows just like this. Remember every choice we make has a consequence. This is Chuck Gallagher. Bye-bye.
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