How to psychologically navigate a sudden, deep, and widespread crisis.

Updated: Apr 7

"Navigating a sudden, deep and widespread crisis, like a global pandemic, requires a level of calm fortitude and resilience that is not called forth every day, rarely in most lifetimes. Science offers us the concept of psychological capital, the resources in our psychological bank accounts that keep ourselves, our teams, and organizations positive, responsive, agile, and effective." - Institute of Coaching

What is psychological capital?


Psychological capital is comprised four resources that form the acronym "HERO".


  • Hope

  • Efficacy

  • Resilience

  • Optimism


These four inner and interpersonal resources can be cultivated. If you think of psychological capital like a bank account, these resources are what you are investing in growing. Use your HERO resources and you will be able to maintain a level of calm fortitude more often than not. Here is how you do it:


1. Be a realistic optimist.


Yes, fully explore the worst case scenarios. But don't let it paralyze you. Make a solid plan then move on. Fear can dominate your actions, mindset, and cause you to become stuck, so be mindful of fear not getting the best of you. Balance the realistic assessment of worst-case scenarios with optimism. Make an effort to explore what the future will look like after the crisis is over. Within every crisis there is opportunity.


2. Generate grounded hope.


Hope is an action word; hope is not passive. During a crisis, when our emotions are fried and we're having trouble thinking logically, we need a path forward. Think of a goal that is meaningful to you, and work towards it. This forward movement is grounded hope, the thought that this will get better. Setting goals sparks creativity and can lift your mood; be realistic with the goal you set and make sure it's attainable, then begin.


3. Efficacy means you know you can do this thing.


As you work towards your goal, you may remember that you don't trust yourself or that you are not a confident person, and these negative inner thoughts can bring your progress to a grinding halt. Listen to these thoughts and gently challenge these beliefs. Counter negative self-thoughts with a positive alternative thought. Just the act of self-reflection will increase your confidence. So do a reality check and then come up with baby action steps towards your goal.


4. People who see the good can bounce back more quickly.


Being a realistic optimist, generating grounded (action-oriented) hope, and changing negative thoughts to positive thoughts can all help you increase your resilience. Go one step further and look for the good around you. Spot the strengths in others, appreciate them for what they do. Take note of the things you have, cultivate gratitude. Use your body and exercise; circulation boosts your mood. Use and share your strengths: we all have talents, so if you are handy with a hammer, fix something; if you're good in the kitchen, prepare a meal. If you like to communicate, write a blog post about psychological capital! :)


If each of us invests in our psychological capital, we will help ourselves, our families, our teams, and our organizations move through this crisis to the other side.


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© 2020 by Stephanie McMahon Health Coaching