Like everyone else, don’t you wish that your journey through life will always go on smoothly? Of course, this is just wistful thinking. Setbacks, bad days, and unpleasant events are inescapable, they parts and parcels of life. Perhaps, it is not possible to avoid or completely eliminate them but you can always lessen their devastating effects if you know how.
Here are some suggestions on how you can survive unscathed when life for you gets rough:
Keep your cool
Try to remain calm. This may be easier said than done especially when the problem comes suddenly and their impact seems too great to handle. You may vent out your initial surge of emotion by crying, punching your pillow, or taking several long, deep breaths. These are proven effective and quick ways to release pent-up emotions.
Analyze the problem
Once you have overcome the initial impact of the problem and have regained your composure, try to analyze the problem. Chances are you have exaggerated its actual effect. Look at the problem objectively. See if you have the capability to solve it alone or with the help of others.
It the problem is resolvable, draw up a plan of action. Assess all you will need to carry out your plan such as available logistics and resources, people who can run to for advice, etc. Start moving. The earlier you get moving, the more chances you have of resolving the problem before it gets worse.
However, if you feel that the problem is beyond your power to solve, let it be and accept it as it is. Resisting what cannot be resisted is like “kicking against a goad”. It is just a waste of time and effort and may just cause more pain. As the Great Buddha said, “It is your resistance to ‘what is’ that causes your suffering”.
What you perceive something to be, it becomes so. It often happens that when something out of the ordinary occurs, you immediately think of it as a problem and negativity quickly sets in. Without prejudging the event, try to analyze it. Something new can be a source of new information and experience. You may gain additional knowledge or learn something from it and not a problem at all. Remember: there are no failures, just learning opportunities.
Focus on what you have
When faced with a setback, think of what you possess to solve it such as knowledge or skill, rather on what you lack. Usually, you are not aware that everything needed to resolve a problem is already within you. You only have to activate them. In such case, the setback is a blessing because it will exercise your latent strength, not unlike a shot of vaccine to liven up your immune system.
Work on your reaction
Sometimes, you encounter problems that seem insurmountable and you panic. In reality, the real problem is not so much the problem itself but your reaction to it. You tend to exaggerate its impact, making a mountain of a molehill. Try to look at situations more subjectively and not to depend on blind assumptions and speculations.
Change yourself, not the world
How you appear to others is what you really are within you. If you have inner peace, that feeling emanates on your appearance and actions. However, if you display chaotic attitude, your mind is oftentimes just as dishevelled. Sometimes, what you perceive as problems caused by outside factors are actually your own doing. You cannot solve problems if you are trying to attack them from the wrong perspective. Change and concentrate on what you have control over—yourself—and watch problems unravel on their own.
Remember one of Aesop’s fables regarding a fox who could not reach the bunch of grapes despite his effort? He eventually gave up thinking that they might be sour after all and not worth getting. You cannot get everything you want in this life, and maybe not getting them could be a blessing in disguise. Instead of wasting your time sulking over your failure, divert your focus to other endeavours and try to learn your lesson from such disappointments.
Savour the moment
It may sound ridiculous but the present, whether it brings joy or sorrow, will soon be a part of your nostalgic past. Seldom do setbacks and heartaches last that long unless you choose to. Time heals all wounds and pains are forgotten. Only memories are left to look back to with fond memories. You may find this too sugary now but wait a little longer and soon you will be missing them, especially when you realize they are not that bad after all and could have you taught you some lessons to learn.
Do not play the victim’s role
Oftentimes, when nothing seems to get right in your life, you play the victim’s role to solicit pity or to avoid taking responsibility for your sad plight. However, wallowing in self-pity will make it more difficult for you to get out of the rut. Dependency on others’ mercy for crutches will keep you shackled to their whims, thus losing your drive to fight back and move on with your life. Instead, get hold of yourself. Consider setbacks and failures bitter but effective medicines to strengthen you. Learn from them so that you can either avoid or be prepared to fight them in the future.
Do not be afraid of your fear
When things get rough, fear can be your greatest enemy. It can numb and paralyze you from taking any action. Look at fear for what it really is — just an intangible product of your mind. It cannot harm you unless you give in to its imaginary threats. An effective way to get rid of it is to crowd it out of your mind with positive and empowering thoughts. Seek the help of your spiritual adviser, a trusted friend, or even a qualified professional. The worst thing you could do is just to keep silent and allow fear to grow and slowly allow dominate your mind until it becomes a numbing phobia, rendering you helpless and useless.
There is nothing permanent in this life. Change is as inevitable as death so you must learn to expect and live with it. Although this may not seem good if you are enjoying life at present, but when things go rough, change is a most welcome blessing! However, it is wiser for you not just to wait for that change to happen. Actively take actions to make it happen sooner in your life. Changing your mind-set to positive is a good start. Once you start to take the first step, let the law of inertia take place until it gains momentum towards a brighter future.
When life gets rough for you, and it will, just remember these suggestions and you can weather life’s storm with minimal damage.