Read more articles from Ron Tustin. For people itchy to make things better
"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily. "So it is." "And freezing." "Is it?" "Yes", said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately." Milne, A. A.
Whether you are a Cantabrian or not, you will have been deeply touched in some way by the Christchurch earthquake of 22 February, So, talking to you today I find this column a particularly difficult one to write. I was working from home, located just a few hundred meters from the epicenter of the tremor. Apart from damage to material possessions I am safe and well.
It is impossible to convey here the trauma and disruption that this event has created in many peoples’ lives. Everyone who lives in the area has had change forced on them for good. And the challenge now is to ensure that that change is actually for people’s good.
The generosity and compassion of other Kiwis and people from other nations has been overwhelming. This powerful sense of community and contribution has reminded us all of what a special place it is that we live in.
Now people have a greater sense of how much time the recovery and rebuilding may take. Life is very different now for people who live in Christchurch.
- Transport is slow and stressful
- Many schools now have 2 shifts to accommodate the students whose schools have been damaged
- Other towns and cities now house many Christchurch residents and many of their services are also struggling to cope
- Workplaces, shops and other community facilities have disappeared.
A Moment for Coaching
Consequently many people are now making long term decisions about where they want to be. Already many people have made permanent moves to other towns or other countries but in some cases the moves are temporary and uncertain.
Whatever people decide, you could say it is a coaching moment. Many people will discuss it with friends and family, weigh up the pros and cons, put actions in place to meet certain goals and may not meet too many surprises on the way. Others may want more help from others such as professionals to get there. Others again may just cope with the surprises they meet on the way.
Baby Boomers and Change
More and more, studies of older people are showing that they are pretty satisfied with their lives and are far less anxious and depressed than younger adults. One of the reasons for this is that time becomes more precious. Older people it seems will focus more on emotional fulfilment and tend to pay less attention on ‘sweating the small stuff’. This may show up as spending more time with people who fulfill us, rather than wasting energy on unproven or unrewarding social acquaintances.
One of the more surprising effects of research has been that while the aging mind may decline in its thinking abilities, the emotional aspect of the brain actually improves with age. Older people tend to pay more notice of positive rather than negative information. They (or is that ‘we’?) also let go of negative experiences more readily. This may also explain how older people may be able to be more resilient and cope better with disasters such as the Christchurch earthquake than other people. For example, you may have heard some of the very moving stories of how residents in rest homes have coped very well through the earthquake.
Studies of older couples show that relationships become more settled and benign. People tend to focus on what and who really matters in the world. It also seems in talking to a lot of people of all ages after the earthquake that this becomes true of very many people who have experienced this event.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to find out more about this research or have a private conversation about anything you have read here.
“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”
Revive and Thrive Coaching
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