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Don't be overwhelmed by events

  • Published
  • By Chaplain, Lt. Col. Harrison Lippert
  • 114th Fighter Wing
The recent challenges of managing the flows of water and the stressed reservoirs in our Missouri River system has brought some ideas of family systems to mind. Every system, whether nuclear family, extended family, or organizations like churches or guard units that sometimes behave like families, are like reservoirs with regards to their ability to handle stressors. There is a capacity that if exceeded will result in system breakdown.

The basic premise behind any system is that everything is connected and a change in one part of the system changes the whole system. This is especially true in family systems with regards to anxiety. Anxiety is contagious and as it spreads it puts more pressure on the reservoir. Systems have norms for how they deal with challenges and how communication flows throughout the system. Some of these are helpful, some are dysfunctional but they are there. The more anxiety in the system the more that healthy communication tends to erode.

So, what helps a family system under stress is one person maintaining an unanxious presence. Every person that keeps their head, holds their calm, and engages with others in the system helps to mitigate anxiety and restore health. They are able to confront issues and get parties in conflict talking to each other so that the system holds together.
Be that presence, especially if you are a commander or supervisor. Take the time needed to analyze how stressed your people are and what is causing the stress as well as how stressed you are.

Deal with your own stress first and then calmly draw people's attention to the areas needing change. If you are not a commander or supervisor, your unanxious"presence still makes a difference and may dissipate some of their anxiety.