We are all faced with challenges constantly in every area of our lives. Most people have a hard time accepting and dealing with these challenges that arise. The truth is that you will have to deal with difficult problems throughout your life, whether it is in your personal life or career.
Most of us get really afraid and run away from problems because we don’t want to accept reality the way it is. Running away from your problems is the worst thing you can do to deal with the challenges you are faced with.
I have some tips for you below on learning how to deal with everyday challenges. Start now and develop the self-discipline to practice the below points.
1. Don’t overreact- Overreacting to a problem will cause you to make bad decisions. When we are not in control of our emotions, we will make decisions that we will regret later. Next time you are faced with a challenge, become the watcher of your thoughts and stay calm so you can make smarter decisions.
2. Accept present moment reality- Accept the way things are and the way people are. You have to understand that not everything is going to be the way you want it to be. If you cannot accept reality you will feel very frustrated with your life. Many people will try to change someone or something that they cannot control, and when it doesn’t work out for them they feel miserable. Once you can accept reality (including the challenges that you are faced with), you will be able to be more calm and think more clearly about how to get a step further towards your goals every day.
3. Don’t blame others- Many people make a habit of blaming others for all their problems. They fail to take full responsibility for the decisions they have made in life. The more you blame others with the challenges you are faced with, the more you will make people dislike you and not want to be around you. The first thing you want to do when faced with a personal challenge is not to start pointing fingers at others.
4. Practice detachment- Make a habit of detaching yourself from any outcome. Detachment means that you are not attached to any given result in life. I remember in the past when I did public speaking and got really nervous. The reason I was fearful of public speaking was because I was too caught up thinking about what the audience was thinking of me. The fact is that there are some people that are not going to like what you say and others who may like what you have to say, therefore your job is to accept the way people are and not get worked up emotionally and mentally over someone not liking you. When you start practicing detachment, many of your fears and insecurities will disappear.
5. Don’t overanalyze- When you think too much about a situation or event that occurred, you will start to judge everything and everyone. When you think too much you will have a very tough time accepting reality and you will think that something is not right. Overanalyzing can also cause you to not take action on your goal, which can make you really frustrated in the long run.
6. Accept “changes’ in your life- You will have to deal with changes in life all the time. Many people don’t like change and they resist it because it gets them outside of their comfort zone. You may be unhappy or happy at certain times; however you have to realize that those two states are not permanent. You have to train your mind to be at peace at all times regardless of the emotional state you experiencing.
7. Don’t compare your lifestyle with others- I know it is really difficult not to compare ourselves with other people, however the more often we do that, the more frustrated we will feel. There will be people that may have accomplished more than you. The key thing to remember is that you create your own story and success in life.
Life is a constant struggle. Each one of us faces problems in his/her life in one way or another. In order to lead a happy and successful life we have to be a good problem solver. Problem solving skills are one of the basic life skills required to survive and succeed in this competitive and hard world.
What is Problem Solving?
Problem solving is the process that involves your abilities to resolve an issue and come out with a feasible solution. Every individual has his/her own way to solve or deal with the problems they encounter:
- Some of us learn from real life examples or observing other people handling similar situations.
- Others learn to deal with problems on their own when they actually face them in practical life.
- Now, the question is, whichever way we learn and choose to solve our problems, is it easy solving problem in day-to-day life or, do we FACE PROBLEMS while SOLVING PROBLEMS.
Whenever we face a problem or a challenge in life, however big or small it is, we do go through certain stages of problem solving mentally:
- To begin with, we identify the problem.
- Then, we look for possible solutions to deal with the problem.
- Next we choose the best possible solution which will work best in that problem situation.
- Finally, we implement the best solution to overcome our problem.
Apart from these stages, we should also be able to look at the following qualities of becoming an effective problem solver:
- Determination to solve a problem
- Remaining calm and patient while dealing with a problem
- Taking problems as a challenge
- Being analytical, thoughtful and creative
- Adequate information of possible solutions
- Ability to implement the best solution appropriately
Robert’s older brother wanted to buy some electronic spare parts for his computer urgently, but he had to go out for a meeting, so he asked Robert to go and get them for him.
He wrote the specifications on a piece of paper and left. Robert left for the electronic store after some time had passed. The market was at a distant place and it took him more than an hour to reach there.
After reaching the store, he realized that he had left that paper mentioning the details at home. He panicked and without thinking about a solution to this problem, he went back home, got the paper and came back to the electronic store. By the time he reached the electronic store again, it had already closed for the day. He returned home empty-handed. His brother was back and asked him what took him so long.
Robert narrated the whole incident to his brother. His brother got upset, but then he told him, instead of coming back home to get the paper, if Robert would have called him and asked him about the details, then he would have told him again and it would have saved him from this trouble.
Robert realized that he did not look for an alternate solution for his problem. If he would have done so, it would have been lot easier for him.
We all have different ways of looking at our problems and we solve them according to our own sensibilities.
But we should always remember that when we are stuck in a problem situation, it is always good to think of possible solutions to solve our problem and then apply the best one for that situation.
Using such an approach helps explore different ways of problem solving and we become more thoughtful, analytical and creative. Remember, when we face a problem and successfully solve it, we become more confident in ourselves, grow as a person, and become more independent in handling our lives.
Helping children to deal with worries and stress will help them grow into resilient adults.
Just like adults, young children have worries that cause stress. Adults may worry about job security or a fight with a partner, while children may stress about a friend moving away or losing their favourite toy. But in much the same way as grown-ups, children who use positive coping strategies are more likely to work through their worries, reduce stress and bounce back from difficulties. And children who develop these helpful coping strategies are more likely to become resilient, mentally healthy adults. Who are the best teachers of coping skills for children? You guessed it: parents.
Why are coping skills important?
Coping skills are what we think and do to help us get through difficult situations, which, as much as we wish they weren’t, are an unavoidable part of life. Psychologist Associate Professor Erica Frydenberg from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education says for children aged four to six these situations are often things like saying goodbye to a parent at kinder or school, having to try something new or wanting to belong to a group of friends.
She says helping children to cope with these sorts of worries will equip them with skills to cope with adult-sized problems later in life and help to reduce the risk of mental health problems like depression and anxiety, which affect an estimated one in seven school-age children.
“What we have found with our work is that starting these conversations about coping early on helps children develop good coping habits,” says Associate Professor Frydenberg. “We need to teach children to manage those worries so they don’t become uncontrollable worries because that’s what poor mental health is – when you don’t feel you have the resources to manage situations that are challenging or difficult. It’s inevitable that we’ll have anxiety as we go through life but problems occur when it goes on for too long without being managed or dealt with.”
How can parents help children develop helpful coping strategies?
Associate Professor Frydenberg FAPS* says parents can help children to cope by discouraging unhelpful strategies – like excessive crying, tantrums, blaming oneself and anger – and encouraging helpful strategies such as asking for help, saying sorry and staying calm.
She says encouraging children to talk to an adult about their worries is particularly effective when it leads to conversations about coping. In fact, children as young as four and five have, on average, 36 ways of describing how they cope that can be used in conversations.
“What parents can do is acknowledge the upset of children and talk about the different ways children can deal with a situation,” says Associate Professor Frydenberg. “We find that even saying that to children generally develops a positive reaction and generates some ideas about what they could do.”
And as with all things parenting, modelling helpful coping skills is a powerful teaching strategy. “Adults are role models and children learn from adults,” says Associate Professor Frydenberg. “It’s important for adults to think about their own coping skills.”
Assoc. Professor Frydenberg is presenting her work at the Australian Psychological Society Congress 2016, in Melbourne, 13-16 September.
Bio: Erica Frydenberg is an educational, clinical and organisational psychologist who has practiced extensively in the Australian educational setting. She has authored and co-authored more than 120 academic journal articles and chapters in the field of coping, developed psychological instruments to measure coping in children, adolescents and adults, and authored and co-authored 15 books on topics ranging from the early years through to adolescence and parenting.
What they want and what they need are very different things.
Optimists see: A glass half full.
Pessimists see: A glass half empty.
Chronic complainers see: A glass that is slightly chipped holding water that isn’t cold enough, probably because it’s tap water even though I asked for bottled, and wait, there’s a smudge on the rim, too, which means the glass wasn’t cleaned properly and now I’ll probably end up with some kind of virus. Why do these things always happen to me?
The constant negativity issuing forth from chronic complainers presents a huge challenge for those around them. And nothing makes chronic complainers happier than being more miserable than their friends. Trying to remain positive, motivated, and productive amid a constant stream of complaints and dissatisfaction can try anyone’s patience.
Understanding the Chronic Complainer Mindset
Despite how difficult their complaints are for those around them, chronic complainers do not usually see themselves as negative people. Rather they perceive themselves as forever being on the losing end of things, and drawing the short straw on a daily basis. Therefore they see the world as being negative and themselves as merely responding appropriately to annoying, aggravating, or unfortunate circumstances.
Even those chronic complainers who do recognize their prodigious complaining output truly believe their unlucky lot in life more than justifies expressing their dissatisfaction to those around them. After all, it is they who have been saddled with more problems and misfortune than most.
- Survival Tip #1: Do not try to convince a chronic complainer things are “not as bad” as they think they are or suggest they are “over-reacting” to events and situations. This will only compel him or her to mention 10 additional complaints or dissatisfactions you have not yet heard about, to give you a better understanding of how terrible their lives actually are.
Understanding What Chronic Complainers Want
Chronic complainers complain to those around them because they seek sympathy and emotional validation. (See instructions about how to provide emotional validation like a champ.) In other words, they want you to validate their experience, to tell them that indeed their glass was chipped, that, yes, they were given tap water rather than bottled water and that, in fact, they should probably get a good night’s sleep so they can ward off whatever germs were embedded in that smudge on the rim.
- Survival Tip #2: The quickest way to extract yourself from a complaining soliloquy is to validate their feelings, express sympathy (which must sound sincere or it will not do the trick), and then redirect the complainer to the task at hand. For example, “The printer jammed on you again? Gee, that’s incredibly annoying! I know it’s hard to shrug off those kinds of things but I hope you can be a trouper because we really have to get back to the Penske file. “
Understanding what Chronic Complainers Don’t Want
Most chronic complainers truly see their lives as full of hardship and challenge. (Some people’s lives are full of hardship or tragedy, but I refer here to people whose lives are actually not unusual in that regard). Chronic complainers’ perceptions about their hardships are deeply embedded in their personality and sense of identity. Therefore, although they tell others about their problems all the time, they are not really looking for advice or solutions.
Even when your advice would actually resolve a problem, chronic complainers will not be especially happy to hear it: Anything that takes away some recognition of their “hardship” will be experienced as threatening to their identity and even their sense of self. Therefore, they often respond to sound advice either by explaining why the suggestions won’t work or by becoming upset that the person offering it doesn’t understand how unsolvable their problem actually is.
- Survival Tip #3: In the majority of situations (there are some obvious exceptions), you should avoid offering advice or solutions and stick to sympathy and emotional validation. However, even chronic complainers sometimes encounter authentic problems and make legitimate complaints. In such cases, when distress is warranted, offer sympathy followed by brief but pointed advice and it will probably be accepted and appreciated.
Here's how to maintain your integrity in family relationships.
Difficult people are everywhere, like it or not. It’s pretty certain that at some point in your life, you’ll come across a challenging person and will have to find a way to deal with them. It would be easy to think, “Why bother?” if being around them causes you grief. But it’s not as easy as that. Sometimes we’re just forced into situations we have little control over.
Being related is one such circumstance. In fact, family members are often the hardest to deal with, because they’re connected to us in a more complicated, intimate way. With difficult acquaintances like friends, colleagues, lovers, or neighbors, you may have to deal with them for a time, either until a conflict between you is resolved, or you are able to remove yourself from the situation. With family, we are almost obligated to go the extra mile for the sake of the integrity of the family group. In other words, personal relationships may affect the family as a whole. If you don’t get along with a family member, it may very well put stress and strain on other familial relationships as well.
So what do you do with those people you may not like very much and may not choose to have in your life, but are forced to deal with because they’re family?
1. Don’t try to fix the difficult person.
Accept them exactly as they are. (This applies to all difficult people, not just family.) It’s tempting to try to help someone you want to care about; you probably will make some efforts to help them. Sometimes it works, but often your efforts will not be rewarded. In fact, trying to fix someone or make their life better may become a huge headache, since the more you do for them, the more they want from you. Accept that they are unable to change, at least at this point in time. Unless you see real change — proof that this person is making an effort to listen and meet you halfway — you can assume that their behavior is what it has always been. It’s important to temper your expectations about what others can and want to do.
2. Be present and direct.
Know that a person who is trying to stir up conflict can easily set you off emotionally, and even physically, possibly raising your heart rate and blood pressure. Try to avoid getting into a fight-or-flight response, which inevitably leads to becoming defensive. You do not want an argument or heated discussion. Stay true to yourself, grounded in your own integrity. Be direct and assertive when you express yourself. Stay focused on how you respond. Know when the discussion or argument has accelerated to the point of no return — meaning it’s no longer about conflict resolution, but just about winning. If it gets to this point, stop the interaction, and leave the conversation.
3. Do encourage difficult people to express themselves.
Let them fully state their point of view about the issue/conflict/problem without interruption. Why do they feel judged or criticized by others? What do they feel people misunderstand about them? What do they want or expect from others? The idea is to remain as neutral as possible. Just listening, rather than trying to engage, may be enough to allow someone to feel like they have the opportunity to say what’s on their mind. Showing respect for another’s differences may go a very long way.
4. Watch for trigger topics.
Inevitably there will be topics that represent points of disagreement and disharmony. Know what these topics are, and be extremely aware when these are brought up. Your past experiences should help you, especially when you are confronted with these delicate subjects. Be prepared to address these issues in a direct, non-confrontational way or to deflect the conflict if the atmosphere becomes too heated.
5. Know that some topics are absolutely off-limits.
Period. History and experiences should tell you that these subjects should be avoided at all costs. That’s not to say that important issues should be permanently avoided. Rather, if your experience dealing with certain issues has left you stressed out or emotionally depleted, and the discussion has not progressed sufficiently along to represent a rapprochement, then it’s best to avoid the discussion until a time when both parties are willing to move it forward in a constructive way.
6. It’s not about you — usually.
Yes, it’s hard not to take things personally, especially when you’re attacked or made to feel responsible for someone else. But if you look at the anatomy of a conflict, you can see how these often play out. Notice how people progressively move through a discussion or argument. Usually, it initially centers around a specific topic/disagreement/response that made a person upset. If allowed to continue, the argument can become heated, accelerating quickly to personal attacks (which often includes trying to make you feel responsible or guilty for not responding the way someone wants you to). If you have been through this kind of interaction before, make a concerted effort to imagine it unfolding before it actually does — and then nip it in the bud.
7. Your own well-being comes first.
While you want to be respectful and attentive to others as much as you can, you don’t want to bend over backwards or twist yourself into a knot just to make someone else happy or satisfied, or to keep the peace. Never allow any personal interaction or relationship to infringe upon or challenge your own well-being. Visualize your boundaries, that protective territory between you and someone else. No one is entitled to occupy your space unless you invite them in.
And then there’s that special situation where families gather together for a special occasion or holiday. it’s best to plan ahead so that you have a good idea about how time will be spent with relatives. Don’t leave too much unplanned time; you don’t want to get into a situation where you’re left alone with a difficult family member with whom you have an issue or conflict — someone who confronts, challenges, incites, aggravates, and basically pushes your buttons. Surround yourself with people you get along with, supportive people who care about you, people who are there to enjoy time together.
Millennials have a ton of problems. Some of the problems are found in outside environments; others are introspective. Regardless, all Millennials lead lives filled with issues — problems that can be changed or fixed. Of course, this is not to say that only Millennials have problems.
That’s clearly not true. But our set of problems is unique because we are unique — not wholly in a good way, either.
As all generations before us, and surely after us, we have our strengths and our weaknesses — all of which are either the cause or the problem itself.
Here are 99 of those problems. I’d give you an even hundred… but I have my own problems that need attending to.
1. We’re not Jay Z. We have 99 problems and girl/boy problems are definitely number one.
2. Money problems.
3. Roommates suck.
4. Credit card debt.
5. Other debt we didn’t know existed until we had it.
6. Parents who don’t understand us.
7. Friends who don’t support us.
8. Having rent to pay every month.
9. Hating our jobs.
10. …Being unable to find a better job.
11. Deciding whether or not to go back to school because we can’t find jobs.
13. Trying to stay trendy.
14. Not realizing that being trendy is pointless. and expensive.
15. Not knowing what’s going on in the world.
16. . Knowing Kanye’s shoe size despite not knowing what’s going on in the world.
17. Not being able to eat healthy because it’s too expensive.
18. Finding a soul mate.
19. Thinking that finding a soul mate is the best use of our time.
20. Not knowing ourselves well enough.
21. All our bad habits. (You know you have them.)
22. Thinking we know it all.
23. Not understanding that in the grand scheme of things, we don’t know sh*t.
24. Spending too much time on Facebook.
25. Not getting enough exercise.
26. Playing video games until we literally can’t see.
27. Pulling an all-nighter and then regretting it in the morning.
28. Using beer goggles to make poor decisions.
29. The walk of shame.
30. Deciding which tattoo to get — aka which one we will regret the least in 20 years.
31. Not listening to others.
32. Feeling privileged.
33. Being unable to empathize.
34. Using sympathy as a way to insult people.
35. Being opinionated on subjects we know nothing about.
36. Trolling everyone who speaks their mind.
37. Not realizing that most EDM music and Dubstep are complete crap.
38. Not reading enough.
39. Watching reality TV (while ignoring reality).
40. Complaining about everything and anything.
41. Being too picky.
42. Being too stubborn.
43. Being close-minded, but thinking we’re open-minded.
44. Having to tell a partner it’s not going to work out.
45. Trying to figure out if we should be the first to say “I love you.”
46. Having to tell a partner we don’t love him or her anymore.
47. Keeping it in our pants — generally speaking for both genders.
48. Music festivals.
49. Tanning beds.
50. Paying for the label.
51. Buying sh*t we don’t need.
52. Not donating. (If you don’t have money, you surely have time.)
53. Bringing the wrong people into our lives.
54. …Allowing those wrong people to remain part of our lives.
55. Allowing others to make decisions for us.
56. Not speaking up.
57. Being afraid of greatness.
58. Pretending like we’re braver than we are, and believing it.
59. Being too proud to ask for help when we need it.
60. Not being considerate of others.
61. Thinking the world revolves around us.
62. Lying for the hell of it.
63. Having sex with all the wrong people.
64. Not being able to find a suitable mentor or role model.
65. Not being in love with learning.
66. Not bothering to educate ourselves after snatching that diploma.
67. Thinking "YOLO" is short for “do something crazy and hope you don’t die.”
68. Thinking molly is a great drug.
69. Thinking too highly of ourselves.
70. Letting the opinions of others influence us deeply.
71. Allowing ourselves to be wounded by careless, hurtful people.
72. . Expecting those people to change their ways.
73. Not accepting the fact that manipulation is important if we wish to succeed.
74. Spending our time foolishly.
75. Never slowing down. Because we’re afraid life itself is boring?
76. Not traveling enough and experiencing other cultures.
77. Not giving a damn — about anything.
78. Being environmentally friendly as a fad.
79. Posting stupid sh*t on YouTube. (Most of us already know you’re stupid; don’t need to prove yourself again.)
80. Smoking too much.
81. Bullying people. We all do it, even if we don’t realize it.
82. Not saving money because we think there is no way possible that we can.
83. Not dancing enough. I’m not talking about raving. I mean actually dancing.
84. Forgetting about the concept of courtship.
85. Most one-night stands.
86. Doing things without a purpose.
87. Not thinking before acting.
88. Not spending more time with our families.
89. Not telling those that we love, that we love them.
90. Not appreciating the little things.
91. Not appreciating the individuals who are most important in our lives.
92. Not spending enough time outdoors.
93. Not living life. Most of us are fooling ourselves into believing we are.
94. Giving up on dreams when the going gets tough.
95. Being very good at coming up with excuses.
96. Being too overloaded with unimportant information to remember the important information.
98. Thinking there will always be a tomorrow.
99. Not spending every hour of every day improving ourselves, making ourselves better, stronger, smarter people.
If you are suffering from family problems that you can’t get away through, then you are not alone. Everyone suffers through that when living in a family. Marrying the person you love and starting a family is not a fairy tale after all. Some problems come across the journey, but there are also plenty of ways to handle those issues.
Every family has issues and the sooner we realise that there is no ‘perfect happy ending’ to any story, the better we will be at handling the situation. Every person has flaws and so does every family. But, the problems you might be facing are very common even if you think you have got the worst scenario of all.
Let’s see what are the most common family problems and how you can handle them.
1. Arguments All The Time
There are better fights that clear the air and then, there are bad ones ruining the environment for everyone. These sort of fight cracks up the relationships, and are so frustrating as well. Sometimes, in a relationship, it is all about how you are arguing instead of what you are arguing about.
So, it is better to stay calm, take a step back, and weight for the negative vibes to leave the room. If you are arguing with the same intensity as the other person, then there is no handling such family issues.
2. Parenting Decisions
Most of the time, family fights are all about how the kids should be raised. It all starts with the decision of whether to have or not have the kids. Moving on further, you might be fighting over the disciplinary training, schooling, religion, and lots of other things about the kid. It is okay to have a disagreement as you are two separate individuals but such family issues shouldn’t destroy your relationship.
Make a priority list and have a decent mature discussion about what should be done in that area. If you have made through this marriage, you can find your way through this.
3. Balancing Home and Work-Life
Life is unfair sometimes. You have dreams but to accomplish them you have to give up your family time sometimes. You do this for your family, but most of the time they don’t understand. It is not their fault.
You just need to manage your time a bit more. No need to be hard on yourself or the family. Just understand that the quality time that you spend with each other matters the most. So, take out some time for them as well.
4. Getting The Family Organised
It is hard enough to get yourself organised, now you have a family to take care of. When you have a partner and kids to manage, chaos is inevitable. And, sometimes it ends up badly.
So, it is better to seek a smart solution. Several apps let you manage your chores, make up a routine, and help with other things. Also, you can keep everyone around you motivated to help you and play the role in the family to avoid such family issues.
5. Lack of Proper Communication
It is fine when you are interested in making yourself clear to a colleague. But, you must not take the same practise at home. When there is miscommunication among family members, a lot of things go wrong. Communication is the issue of every relationship. If you are weak at it, relationships cannot grow.
If you are having trouble clearing things out, you must talk to them and sort out a solution. It is always better to communicate better than to miscommunicate.
6. Some Members Stress You Out
It can your wife, husband, siblings, kids, or anyone who is the source of your stress when you just enter the house. Personal clashes are always stressful and tough. Sometimes, they drive us crazy.
If you have some of these members at home, it is better to be ready before you enter the home. It hurts to face the surprising conflict than to be already ready for it. Give yourself time and understand that they are not going to change.
7. Dividing Up the Chores
When it is about chores, nobody enjoys them. But since they teach us many things. You can’t just avoid this. You got to teach your kids how they can play a role in the family and why they should. Though it is not an easy task there are ways to do it.
Make family rules and use parental control apps to control their screen time. Show them who is the boss and get them to share your burden for good.
8. Being Far from The Family
If you are not near to your family, it is a big stress for you. The holidays are the toughest times when you are not with them. Getting homesick can happen at any time.
You can video chat with them, talk to them most of the time to get rid of this homesickness. Make good friends around you who make you feel at home.
9. A Member Is Suffering from Mental Illness
When one of the family members is suffering from mental illness, it is one of the hardest family issues to handle. It is a serious issue and it can affect the family members with high intensity. But, these people need your support the most.
However, professional help is a must. You must not ignore the issue just because that person is a family member. Have patience and call for professional help whenever it is necessary.
10. Divorce in the Family
Divorce destroys a family. It is one of the really ugly family issues. The family structure is surely disturbed because of this. But, you must be there for your family and give them an ear or shoulder to cry one. You must not lash out on them or leave them at this hour of need.
Divorce is difficult for everyone. So, get help if you think you need it and be there for your family.
These are some of the most common family problems that you might be facing. Now that you know how to handle them, give your family the happy ending they deserve and have a peaceful life yourself
Expert advice for maintaining your confidence and finding a positive outcome.
Posted May 21, 2016
Life throws unexpected things at us all the time. Some we like—such as finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk—but many of them we don’t, such as missing a flight due to an extra long line at airport security. Sometimes unexpected events can be much more serious, such as an illness or a job loss. Needless to say, these kinds of events can be quite distressing.
What you need to rely on most during these difficult times is your ability to think creatively and solve problems. However, research shows that negative emotions such as fear, anger, and frustration can actually cause your brain’s executive network, which is responsible for problem solving, to constrict and work less effectively. On the other hand, positive emotions help your brain generate more creative solutions to problems. 1
How can you become more successful at dealing with life’s curve balls? Although you can’t control the occurrence of unexpected situations, you can control how you respond—and that can make all the difference in how you feel and how you deal with distressing issues. Following are four ways to survive unexpected stress, and maybe even come out ahead:
1. Pause before you act.
There is a huge difference between a reaction and a response. A reaction comes from an automatic part of the brain. It is almost like a reflex. Reactions are very quick, especially when we feel threatened in someway. On the other hand, a response is something you consciously choose to do based on a more thoughtful assessment of a situation. For example, when someone cuts you off in traffic your automatic reaction might be to get angry and assume the driver is deliberately being rude or thoughtless. This anger can cause you to want to retaliate in some way. By pausing and taking time to think, you give yourself a window of opportunity to pick a better option. You might decide that retaliating is not in your best interest or you may realize that the driver wasn’t deliberately trying to be disrespectful, but was simply not paying attention. For most people, practicing deep breathing and counting to 10 can help restrain a reaction long enough to choose a better response. If you are a very visual person you may even imagine yourself aiming a remote control at the situation and pushing the pause button. Practicing mindfulness on a regular basis is another great way to increase your ability to pause before acting.
2. Don’t assume that the things you don’t want are bad.
Most people automatically assume that if something they don’t want happens to them, it’s a bad thing that will likely lead to an even worse outcome down the road. If you break up with your partner, you may think it is awful because you will never find anyone better and you will always be alone. If you don’t get a job you sought, you may think no one will ever hire you and you will be stuck living with your parents forever. Thinking this way inevitably makes you feel terrible.
For most of the things that happen to you, there’s no way of knowing whether they will be a bad thing or a good thing—and which one an event turns out to be often has a lot to do with how you respond. If you end a relationship, blame yourself, become despondent, and never leave the house, you increase the likelihood of not finding another relationship. However, if you accept that, for whatever reason, it was not the right relationship for you, maintain a positive attitude, believe that a better relationship is coming your way, and then get involved in fun activities, you significantly increase the likelihood of finding another great partner, possibly one who is an even better match.
Unexpected situations often have the potential to open the door to new events in our lives that we do want. If you miss your plane, you may end up meeting the love of your life on a different flight. If you lose your job and are forced to move to a new city, you may meet a great new set of friends, or find your dream home. You never know what will come of a situation, so rather than assuming a situation is bad, which only generates lots of unhelpful, negative emotions, practice saying to yourself, “We shall see.” Then make an effort to look ahead with hope.
3. Plan for everything to turn out well.
Many people hope for the best, but plan for the worst. The problem with this strategy is that we act on our expectations, yet our actions create our experiences. If you want a good outcome, you have to plan for one because that is what leads to the actions that create good experiences. An unexpected event is one you didn’t plan for, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan to create the best possible outcome from the situation. We all have the ability to shift our attention from an unexpected event that seems like a big problem and focus instead on finding the solution. The minute you ask yourself what you can do to make something better, you have taken the first step in planning for events to go well. When you see a plan laid out in front of you for how to make something turn out well, your assessment of the situation starts to change. You regain your sense of control and as a result you start to feel better.
4. Trust in your ability to be OK.
Most people have been through more than one difficult thing in their life. You’ve probably already been through several significant challenges and quite a few smaller bumps in the road. No one likes them, but most of us survive them. When you are in the middle of a difficult situation, instead of assuming it won’t work out, think about the things you have already been through and ask yourself, “What did I do to get through those events?” Knowing your own strength is important for self-confidence. If focusing on your strong qualities doesn’t come naturally, ask someone who knows you well to give you a boost. When you redirect your attention from a problem to the knowledge that you’re able to handle it, you will start to feel better.
1. Garland, E. L., Fredrickson, B., Kring, A. M., Johnson, D. P., Meyer, P. S., & Penn, D. L. (2010). Upward Spirals of Positive Emotions Counter Downward Spirals of Negativity: Insights from the Broaden-and-Build Theory and Affective Neuroscience on The Treatment of Emotion Dysfunctions and Deficits in Psychopathology. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 849–864.