Collins Dictionary named “Permacrisis” as the word of the year for 2022. By definition, permacrisis is “an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events.” It is common for people to live their life stuck in crisis mode, continuously unhappy but it does not have to be that way. As someone who has overcome a lifetime of trauma, I would not wish permacrisis on anyone. But I also know there are ways around and through it.
Here is how to tell if you’re experiencing permacrisis, and how to combat it.
1. Your body and nervous system are in Fight-Flight-Freeze mode
When experiencing permacrisis, your nervous system cannot regulate properly, which brings your body into fight-flight-freeze mode, and when that happens you often can see no other way out. You are hyper-vigilant and hyper-focused on survival, which can intentionally or unintentionally cause you to push people away. You may find yourself on one end of the spectrum, having zero boundaries, or the reverse case when you have so many boundaries that there is no way anyone can get close to you.
2. You feel younger than you really are (and not in a good way)
Triggers are common and during a trigger fear has taken over your brain and what is happening in your life is re-activating a past wound. When this happens, you’re emotionally regressing in age as you are taken back to however old you were at the time when you first experienced the crisis or trauma. This version of you may be much different than the empowered person or adult that you know yourself to be today.
3. You feel stuck in a never-ending pattern of crisis and trauma
Without meaning to, many people are experiencing a constant state of instability, unconsciously expecting a past and former crisis to repeat, anticipating the next crisis, or they have not recovered from a previous crisis (for example divorce, health diagnosis, losing a child or loved one, or abuse). The fact is all crises have a beginning, middle, and end. Unimaginable and painful experiences happen, but trauma and crisis do not have to define us, do not have to limit us, and do not mean we are destined for less of a life. Crisis can allow us to become even more alive so that if in the future another similar situation occurs, we no longer feel like the sky is perpetually falling and instead we remember how capable we are.
Society tells us that it is nearly impossible to fully recover from crisis or trauma, but permacrisis is a permanent state of crisis that is flat-out unnecessary, and there are ways to manage it. Several methods are outlined in the book Coming Back to Life, but they all circle back to one key takeaway: you deserve to be free from past trauma. Healing is possible. You are more powerful than anything you have survived.
How you respond to the crisis at hand is what matters most. When you are not calm, cool, collected, and neutral, you are giving your power away to the situation. It helps to find out exactly what triggers you, feel the emotions you do not want to feel, and visualize what the future you looks like. A crisis does not have to be an obstacle. Instead, think of it as an opportunity for a wake-up call, and a chance to take your power back again, and again.