I’ve always been a careful planner. I’m a fan of scheduling, of to-do lists, and keeping everything neat. I’ve always been this way, sometimes so rigidly so that the simplest thing going wrong would completely destroy my day. As I grew up, it wasn’t always simple things anymore. They say to expect the unexpected, but it’s harder when the unexpected is a plane crash or a broken heart instead of a flat tire or broken phone. Regardless of what happens in your life, you need the tools to go on instead of freezing in terror or panicking. Here are some of my tips for dealing with the unexpected.
Know that it’s possible. One of the reasons people react poorly when the unexpected happens is because they concretely believe that they’ve planned for every possibility. The fact that things come up is unavoidable. Once you accept that change can come your way, it’s significantly less alarming.
Take a moment. A calm and calculated response is almost always better than an impulsive one when you’re caught by surprise. Is the problem manageable? Brainstorm what you can do.
Process your emotions. Stress has a numbing effect on some people. Instead of panicking about the next step, think about how you feel and why you feel that way. Working through your emotions gives you an opportunity to shed most of the anxiety that’s associated with unexpected news.
Have a snack and take a walk. If you’re still feeling too frazzled to handle your situation, you need two things: nourishment and motion. Eating a healthy snack and taking a walk can help your process your situation and give you the clarity necessary to consider your options.
Utilize your support system. When you’re faced with something that throws you off course, isolating yourself is a big mistake. Consulting the people around you, not just for their emotional support, but for the skills and useful input they might have that can assist in your situation.
Ultimately, you have to accept that change happens. Instead of expecting the unexpected, utilizing these skills gives you the opportunity to accept the unexpected, replan, and move forward.