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  • Writer's pictureAngela Smith

A crisis as opportunity for change

"The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear" Antonio Gramsci – Writer & Politician In the course of our lives, time and again we go through personal crises. Some of them, such as puberty or the midlife crisis, are part of our natural maturation and although we experience them in very different ways, they are in a way predictable. Other crises, such as a separation, the death of a loved one or a serious illness, usually hit us unexpectedly. How strongly a crisis affects us, how easy or difficult it is for us to recover from it, and how long it lasts depends on our personal feelings, our resilience and our willingness to let go of the old and open ourselves to the new. Social, political or economic crises, as well as personal crises, usually mark stages in our lives when the strategies that we used apply to solve problems no longer work and we do not yet have new solutions. During these stages we may feel helpless, sometimes to the point of despair, and professional help may become necessary. If we look at the Greek word “krísis” (= decision, decisive turn), from which the word “crisis” is derived, we can understand a crises as a call for change, a decisive turning point or a period of transition. Every crisis entails a chance to take a fresh look at one's own life, to question one's own situation, habits and patterns of thinking, and to develop qualities in oneself that have not yet had a chance to unfold. In his book “Ich bin, was ich werden könnte” (I am, what I could become), the author Mathias Wais writes: “Where one is disappointed with oneself and feels helpless within oneself, there the essential question which leads to further progress arises: Who am I deep down within myself? Who am I beyond what I know about myself and what has proven itself to work for myself up to this crisis?”[1] Biography work intends to get to the bottom of this question, it wants to help with one’s own development so that the individual, the very own part of oneself, may emerge. The decisions that a person take during times of crisis, but also at other turning points in life, often point to the very individuality of a person and the driving force behind the decisions.

[1] Wais, Mathias, Ich bin, was ich werden könnte – Entwicklungschancen des Lebenslaufs: aus der Biografieberatung, edition tertium, 1995

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