Crisis comes from the Greek word “krisis” meaning “decision”. It came to be used in medieval medicine for the turning-point in a disease; the moment when either the patient or the illness gains the upper hand. In modern English, a crisis is a moment that demands decisive action.



Moments of crisis are brought about by a deficiency of some kind. Something in life has gotten bad, either in the world around you or in yourself. A decision has to be made, a decision towards health, life, and happiness, or towards sadness and despair… death.

Because people are not simply individuals, people in crisis often turn friends for guidance. A good friend will be a like good doctor. He will sometimes cause us pain—pain that eventually heals us. If they’re not such good friends, they might encourage the wrong decision—thus causing the crisis to end in the wrong way.

A friend gave me a piece of advice: when helping a friend through a crisis, she said let them talk. Listen to them. Be sympathetic. But as soon as they start repeating themselves, saying something you’ve already covered in the conversation, they’re going in circles. In any real crisis, what seems to be a circle turns out to be a downward spiral.

So when your friend starts to repeat himself, that’s the time when you step in. It might just be time to end the conversation; if you can’t give him anywhere to go, at least you’ve stopped him going down. But chances are, you’ll have something to say that can start him on an upward spiral.

Just remember to be the good doctor and bring the crisis to an improving end.

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