Celestine's original article can be found here: 13 Helping Points When Things Don't Go Your Way.
“We're all dealing with issues. What distinguishes us is how we solve them.” ~Unknown
“It is our reaction to stress that kills us, not stress itself.” Hans Selye is a German physicist.Have you ever had a situation where things just don't go your way? For example, have you ever misplaced your keys, accidentally spilled your drink, gotten up late, missed your bus/train, or forgotten to bring your belongings?
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- You're not by yourself. We all have times when things don't go as planned, including myself.
- Here's my guide to dealing with daily setbacks.
1. Take a step back and assess the situation
Take a step back and assess the situation when something bad happens. Here are some questions to consider:
- What exactly is the issue?
- Are you the only person in the world dealing with this issue right now?
- How does this issue manifest itself on an individual level? At the national level? On a global level?
- What is the worst that could happen to you as a result of this?
- How will it affect your life in the next year? Five years? ten years?
The purpose of this exercise is not to undermine the problem or to absolve yourself of responsibility, but to consider various points of view so that you can choose the best approach for it. Most problems we face on a daily basis may appear to be major issues when they arise, but the majority, if not all, have little impact on our lives beyond that day.
2. Vent if necessary, but don't dwell on the issue
- If you're feeling particularly frustrated and need to vent, go ahead and do so. If it makes you happy, tell a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs.
- At the same time, resist the urge to vent. While venting may provide temporary relief, it will not solve the problem in the long run. You don't want to be a vampire of energy.
- If you need to vent, do so for 15 to 20 minutes. Then proceed.
3. Recognize that you are not alone in this situation
Even if the situation is frustrating, you are not alone. Remember that there are nearly 7 billion people on the planet today, and chances are that other people have experienced the same thing. Knowing that you are not alone helps you to break free from a self-victimizing mindset.
4. Analyze your feelings/thoughts
Use any of the four methods to process your thoughts/emotions:
Journal. Write about your dissatisfaction in a private diary or on your blog. It does not have to be formal in any way; it can simply be a brain dump on rough paper or a new word document. When you're finished, press the delete button.
Audio recording. Record yourself as you express your thoughts. Tools include a tape recorder, a PC (Audacity is free software for recording/editing audio), and a mobile device (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even do this through your voice mail. Simply talking allows you to become more aware of your emotions. After you've finished recording, go back and listen to what you said. It could be quite revealing for you.
Meditation. Meditation, in its most basic form, is simply sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some believe it involves some complicated mambo-jumbo, but it does not.
I'm conversing with someone. Talking about it with someone else can help you work through the problem. It also provides you with a different perspective and allows you to consider it from a different angle.
5. Recognize your own thoughts
Recognize your thoughts rather than resisting them. Positive and negative thoughts are both included.
By acknowledging, I mean admitting that these thoughts exist. So, if you have a thought like, “Wow, I'm so stupid!” acknowledge it. Recognize any thoughts that come to mind that say, “I can't believe this is happening to me again.”
Recognize that simply acknowledging the thoughts does not imply that you agree with them. It is simply acknowledging the presence of such thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation at hand.
6. Take a break from time to time
Give yourself a break if you are extremely stressed by the situation and the problem is not time sensitive. Go for a walk, listen to music, watch a movie, or sleep. When you're finished, you should feel much more energized to deal with the situation.
7. Figure out what's really bothering you
A lot of the time, our rage isn't directed at the world. You may begin by being angry at someone or something, but at its core, you are angry at yourself.
Find the source of your rage. I've written a five-part anger management series on how to overcome anger permanently.
Then, consider how you can improve the situation. Continue to Step 9, where you will define your actionable steps. Our rage stems from the fact that we have no control over the situation. Sitting there, enraged, will not change the situation. The more we act, the more we regain control of the situation, and the better we will feel.
8. Consider this an obstacle to be overcome.
Helen Keller once stated,
“Character cannot be built in peace and quiet. Only through trials and tribulations can the soul be strengthened, the vision clear, ambition inspired, and success attained.”
Whatever you're going through right now, look at it as a challenge to overcome. There will always be a slew of roadblocks in the way of any worthwhile endeavor. These obstacles are what distinguishes those who succeed from those who do not. If you can persevere and overcome them, you will emerge a stronger person than before. It will be more difficult for anything to bring you down in the future.
9. Examine the situation – Concentrate on actionable steps
There will be things in every setback that cannot be undone because they have already occurred. You should prioritize things that can still be changed (salvageable) over things that have already occurred and cannot be changed. The only time things change is when you take steps to improve them. Rather than crying over spilt milk, consider the following:
- What exactly is the situation?
- What is it about this situation that bothers you?
- What are the next steps that will assist you in resolving them?
- Take the necessary next steps!
Act on your next steps after you've identified them. The key here is to concentrate on the steps that can be taken rather than those that cannot. It is all about regaining control of the situation by taking direct action.
10. Determine how it happened (so it doesn't happen again)
We frequently react to our problems. The problem arises, and we attempt to make the best of what has occurred within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (as are the other helpful points), it is equally, if not more, important to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from happening again rather than dealing with it reactively.
Most of us probably believe that the problem is beyond our control, but in reality, it is almost always completely avoidable. It is simply a matter of how much responsibility you accept for the problem.
For example, if a person cannot get a cab to work in the morning, he or she may attribute the problem to a lack of cabs in the country or bad luck. However, if you get to the bottom of the issue, it's probably more to do with (a) having unrealistic expectations about how long it will take to get a cab. He/she should allow more time the next time to wait for a cab. (b) Oversleeping as a result of exhaustion from working late the day before. He/she should make more time for rest the next time. He or she should also improve his or her time management skills in order to complete tasks in less time.
11. Recognize that things could get a lot worse
Whatever the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will assist you in recognizing this.
12. Give it your all, but don't kill yourself over it
Do your best, no matter how bad your situation appears to be, but don't kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to be concerned with trivial matters. Take a step back (#1), take a break if necessary (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will follow suit. Worrying too much about the outcome will not change anything or improve your life.
13. Identify the key takeaways from the encounter
Every encounter teaches us something new. What have you taken away from this experience? What are the lessons you've learned?
After you've identified your learning points, consider how you'll apply them in the future. You have clearly gained something from this encounter. You've emerged a stronger, wiser, and better person, with more life lessons to draw on in the future.
This article is also available in manifesto form: [Manifesto] What to Do When Things Don't Go Your Way.
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