Nothing in life is certain. Even death and taxes come with their fair share of surprises. Here’s how to keep your cool and come out on top of life’s unexpected events.
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Throughout life, you’re in a constant state of flux. From your social life to your work life, your day-to-day experiences are never fully concrete. You might walk into work one day to find out your favorite coworker or boss no longer works for the company. Or, maybe before you even show up for work your car breaks down.
Sometimes these unforeseen events are small, seemingly harmless. For example, you might break a dish or spill a drink. This seems more like a minor inconvenience but after an already difficult day, these little bumps in the road can add up for a pretty rough ride.
Occasionally you will be struck by one of life’s curveballs and it turns out to be a blessing in disguise. You could possibly be turned down by a company only to later find out it went under shortly after. The rejection would hurt, but knowing you don’t have to start looking for a new job all over again feels good!
So, how can you function knowing life could change at any minute?
Ways to Deal With Unexpected Events
1. Accept That Life Is Full of Unexpected Events
You should accept that unexpected events will occur and that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Unfortunately, none of us are exempt from the tumult of sudden change.
Change is hard for everyone; it’s human nature to stick to a routine. Accepting that changes will occur will help you keep a clear head when, not if, the time comes.
Sometimes these events are going to be something you can fix. Other times, you won’t have such luck.
Again, this isn’t the end of the world! There’s no need to run and hide from life. Vow to use these difficult moments as learning experiences. That way not everything is awful.
2. Try to Shake the Idea of Perfectionism
One of the most difficult realities of life to accept is that nobody’s perfect. This means not only are you not perfect, but neither is anyone else.
You should practice forgiving yourself for your misdeeds. There’s no reason to constantly beat yourself up over your mistakes. First accept them, and then try to either fix them or move on.
It’s also important to forgive other people and try to empathize with them as well. When you have a negative experience it’s easy to react selfishly. If someone else is the reason an unforeseen event occurs, remember that their life is also being thrown off course.
Learning how to manage irrational ideas of perfectionism can help you to calm down and better assess the situation at hand.
3. Don’t Play the “Blame Game”
Since nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, you need to avoid trying to blame yourself or others for unexpected events. At times life may seem unfair but looking to blame someone is an empty goal to pursue – sometimes there’s no one to blame at all.
When someone you love gets hurt or sick, it’s natural to look for someone or something to blame. Unfortunately identifying the cause, if there is one, often won’t fix the problem–especially if the means to address it is out of your hands. If anything, it will only act as a distraction, ultimately leading you nowhere.
Sometimes we spend so much time worrying about the reason something is happening, that we miss out on the chance to remedy an issue.
If a client wants to go in a different direction than what your team is pitching, your initial response might be to argue over who dropped the ball before you resubmit any work. Maybe they enjoy both ideas but the second one is what they need more at the time. This may cause the client to rethink hiring your company in the future, not due to dissatisfaction, but due to poor team coordination and time management.
Try to orient your mindset with creative solutions before worrying about who or what’s at fault.
4. Act, Don’t React
Gut reactions are hard to shake. Learning to have self-control takes a lot of patience, both with yourself and outside stimuli. Taking the time to think before you act on your emotions can greatly change the outcome of events.
Imagine you get in a minor car accident. The damages aren’t that bad, but now your entire day is thrown off course and you have to spend weeks dealing with insurance and mechanics. Your gut reaction might be to get angry and start yelling. This reaction does nothing to help with the situation. If anything, reacting in such a way can cause the situation to take up even more time and energy. Instead, you should wait a moment and calm down before you address the issue.
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Try to remain calm! This is easier said than done, especially when you’re deep in “it.” In fact, when your head is spinning, and you can’t orient yourself, someone telling you to “just breathe” can be extremely aggravating!
Just remember that they mean well. There is actually a plethora of scientific data supporting the benefits of deep breathing exercises, with one benefit being its ability to help regulate parts of the nervous system.
At times when you’re in the midst of panicking you can start to dissociate. Dissociation is when you detach from your sense of self, or your surroundings. Deep breaths will help ground you so you can conquer whatever event is causing you stress.
6. Expect the Unexpected
Accepting unexpected events means you should expect them as well. Of course, not all surprises are something you can plan for–but you can try to remain alert just in case.
Disaster preparation is one way to help you ready yourself for unforeseen events in life. We’re not talking full out zombie-apocalypse bugout bags here, but having a disaster plan in place is always a good idea. Try to keep necessities at the ready, along with emergency food and cash.
In the even that you have to hunker down and wait out a natural disaster, having emergency rations of food and flashlights will greatly reduce your stress levels in a time of panic.
If you use a vehicle of any kind, making sure you always have enough fuel is something you don’t want to overlook. Maybe you’re driving home after a long day, glance at the dash, notice you’re almost on empty, and say “bah, I’ll handle it in the morning”. But then you oversleep–and as you’re running late it comes as a shock to remember you’re running on fumes. Stopping the night before for fuel would have made oversleeping not seem as bad, because now you’re a lot later than you would have been–and probably in a worse mood because of it.
There isn’t any sure-fire way to avoid the events we can’t expect in life, but the least you can do is try to cushion the blow.
7. Try to Remain Positive
Just because you can expect life to be difficult and not go your way at times doesn’t mean you need to dwell on the low points. Try to stay positive.
Some events will be so catastrophic to our emotional stability that it might seem impossible to remember there are positive aspects in life. When life is truly bleak and overwhelming events bombard you at every turn, it helps to think of positive, happy moments in life.
Experiencing the death of someone you love is one of the most difficult experiences you will go through in life. There is no escaping it and the negatives are hard to ignore. But as soon as you begin thinking of all the good times and positive experiences you had with this person, you start to adjust and it’s easier to push yourself forward. Don’t ignore your emotions or try to suppress them, but let yourself remember the good times to help ease the pain.
When it comes to the more minor inconveniences in life, it’s still easy to fall into a negative mindset. If you find your emotions spiraling out of control, try to remember the things you love about your life. Maybe you have a pet at home you find comfort in, or a planned event you’re looking forward to. Whatever might come your way, remember that there is still good in the world. It will help you calm down and have more control over your life.
8. Talk About It
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Don’t suppress your emotions, find ways to express them. If possible, talk things out with friends, family, or even a therapist. There’s no stigma in having a therapist and it can immensely benefit your life. Not only will a therapist help you discuss the problems in your life, but they can also better direct you in handling these problems. When life throws that curveball, a therapist can help you assess the situation and figure out methods to cope in the future if a similar situation arises.
If therapy isn’t your cup of tea, then your friends and family will likely be able to hear you out. Odds are they are either experiencing the same event as you or have at some point in life. They can offer you examples of how they dealt with unforeseen events or help ground you when you’re upset.
Talking one on one isn’t always an option though. Sometimes you need a nonverbal outlet. Journaling will give you the chance to let it all out. Then in the future once you have a level head you can go back and read your reaction. This will help you rationalize later on if you experience the same event again.
It’s Not All Bad
It’s important to remember that not every unexpected event is bad. It can be hard to tell at first but sometimes there’s a silver-lining, you just have to be open to finding it. So, try to avoid dwelling on the negatives, and remember not to react. Just breathe and try to find the positives in a situation.
Use the above examples to work towards being more in control of life’s unexpected events!