How to find opportunity in the midst of crisis

Japanese wisdom and my 3N strategy
April 28, 2021
Dear Child,

I wonder how many times in life we experience a moment of crisis – a time of intense difficulty or danger(Oxford Languages). A loss of family members, a loss of job, a sickness, an accident, an earthquake, a pandemic…

The novel coronavirus disease dragged us into a semi-permanent collective crisis. The experience we have might differ, but we are all psychologically affected by this vulnerable time.

To many of us, COVID-19 caused bereavement, isolation, loss of income, and fear which triggered many mental health conditions and/or exacerbated existing ones.

The pandemic crisis is exhausting to a point where most of us consciously stopped watching the news just to keep our sanity. 

That was our 2020 and is 2021…

I am not here to remind you of the challenging times we face. Instead, I write to remind you that there is always light, even in the darkest times.

My personal experience with the pandemic gave me an opportunity to choose again. Last year’s version of me was crying in her apartment, victimizing herself for feeling alone away from family. She would endlessly complain to her colleagues and friends. She would find something or someone to blame for her miserable life. Then, life gave me a lesson and I started to reframe this perspective. Long story short, I left my 9-5 job, I moved countries, I started living with my husband, I reconnected with myself and my ambitions, I regained passion in writing and creating, and more. Life gave me an opportunity, and my mind was prepared to leap in. It wouldn’t have been possible without reframing my perspective.

I hope this read will support you in finding that perspective and bring light to your life as well. I borrow Japanese wisdom on reframing the crisis and share my 3N strategy in practicing emotional intelligence to prepare our minds for the toughest challenges.

Japanese wisdom on crisis

*The characters origin are Chinese, but for the purpose to keep my post authentic, I will phrase it based on my knowledge acquired living in Japan. 

Let me share some examples. 

One of the worst psychological crises in life is undoubtfully the loss of a close one. Still, this devastating event could turn into an opportunity to cherish each moment of life and practice gratitude toward little things. 

The loss of a job could turn into an opportunity to reveal talents you didn’t know you had or never exercised before.

The sickness could be an opportunity to revise your health habits and honor your body.

The accident could be an opportunity to practice awareness and nudge you into walking more often to your destination.

And so on. 

Intense emotions such as pain and grief are inevitable in life. It is a natural process of energy flowing in our bodies, waiting to be released for healing. What we can do, is to channel this energy and redirect it into something positive that can help us not dim light on life. 

How to prepare your mind – My 3N Strategy

A crisis comes suddenly and sweeps us from our feet. It is an unpleasant experience for sure. The more unprepared we are, the more it brings chaos into our life. How can we prepare our minds to help us lift, even a tiny little bit, above its shadows?

Begin with asking yourself. How and what are you feeling? Are you feeling and thinking at the same time? What beliefs or patterns is your mind creating? This requires a certain level of self-awareness.

Let me introduce you to my 3N strategy, which I learned from the greatest minds. In dealing with our emotions – energy in motion, the first actions to take should be; 

  • Notice
  • Name
  • No to the story
  1. Notice

The first step of self-awareness is consciousness. Simply acknowledge the emotion.

You are feeling something; that’s what you need to know.

  1. Name

The second step is more tricky, but you can get better with practice. It requires us to cultivate emotional literacy.

There are seven universal human emotions to which (surprisingly) we share common facial expressions across the world. These are happiness, content, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise. Each can be divided into a sub-set of emotions. For example, joy can feel excited, optimistic, proud, cheerful, happy, content, peaceful, etc.

The challenge is twofold; know each emotion by name and how it feels, identify which you are feeling.

By naming the emotion, you separate it from yourself, gaining an objective perspective. Identifying emotions help to extract the information you need to release them. 

  1. No to the story

This is the most important.

Never feel and think at the same time. Our mind often creates stories that are not helpful for us to release our emotions. When we are vulnerable, it usually feels like the end of the world. “They ALL hate me.” “I am NEVER going to make it.” “I am THE WORST.” Everything magnifies, so we need to be careful to say NO to the immediate story and focus on being with the feeling.

Feel first, think later. Never react on impulse.

To wrap up, I would like to acknowledge that all of the above is easier said than done. Crises are hard.

It is natural to feel daunted with intense emotions. It is a vital function of our body. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid crises in life. Still, we can control how we balance out the dark moments with opportunities that arise simultaneously

By the way, the root word for crisis comes from Greek krino, which translates to “turning point” or “decisive moment.” Next time you feel in crisis, know that it’s your choice point; pain or gain?



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