Most of the time, things go our way. I would say that for most people, 99% of the time, things go the way they are expected to be. But sometimes, life goes sideways and we are faced with a completely new situations and new challenges.
I am writing this post after years of watching how people react to unexpected situations and how some people use these events to propel themselves to a new level, and how others let these events consume them.
What we are talking about here isn't small stuff like a guy unexpectedly took your squat rack when you went to go grab a drink at the water fountain. Think more about events such as big accidents (broken bones), getting fired, getting dumped or other major life events.
Over the years, I've had my fair share of unexpected shitty stuff happen to me and that used to freak me out. I stopped doing things I loved like downhill biking because I was scared of seriously hurting myself. I went through the phase of not wanting to date anyone seriously because I was scared of being dumped. Let's not even talk about how many bones I broke over the years of playing rugby and snowboarding.
It's by observing how others dealt with such incidents that I learned different strategies to feel more comfortable with the unexpected. Here are a few pointers that have helped me tremendously over the recent years.
1. Accept that things are out of your control
You can control a lot of things in your life but not all. For this reason, learn what things are you ok with not controlling. It's ok to let things go and see what happens. It's ok to not be in control 100% of the time. The sooner we understand that, the better we will be a letting things flow the natural way and be ok with the results. Instead of always fretting over what might happen, enjoy what is happening now (This helped me A LOT when getting back into dating).
2. Get progressively more confident at things
We aren't born to be good at everything right a the start. We must take the time to learn and progress in the various activities that we undergo be it work, dating, sports or other things. The more confident you are with something, the more you have in control. For example, when I go back to downhill biking next summer, I will start by going on the green runs. When these feel comfortable, I'll move up to blue, then red and then black. Even though I really want to go on black runs right away, I simply don't have the skills to do it and way to many variables would be unexpected for me. Point is, take your time.
3. Create the life you want to live
Yes this deserves a whole book to itself but here is what I've seen over and over again. Those who live the life they choose are always better a responding to unexpected events. Why? I think that when you aren't living the life you truly want to live, unexpected event add yet another burden for you. And this spirals out of control until you expected things to go sideways. Living the life you want to live will also give you a lot of energy. You sleep better, you recover quicker, you think more clearly and are in tune with what matters most. All of these help when the unexpected comes knocking on your door.
4. Always learn, never lose
Every time something doesn't go your way is an opportunity to grow. What could you have done differently? Was there something you could of phrased better? Could you have trained a different way? Whatever the issue, there is always a clue on how to prevent it in the future. Having this mindset will ensure that the unexpected happens less and less, or that you will be better prepared when it does come around.
5. Take the time to notice your emotions
Unexpected events can cause a big emotional response. You are not always going to unexpectedly win a million dollars on the scratch and win. Sometimes you will feel pain, stress and confusion. Take the time to let these emotions express themselves. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! Your emotional response will help you learn from the event and better prepare yourself for the future.
I've seen people play "tough guy" for years and years. Never showing emotion, always pushing feelings aside. I've been there when it all catches up to them. It is not pretty. It's actually quite ugly. It is also extremely preventable by being in tune with your feelings and emotions.
Whatever happens in life, you can choose to grow from it or let it tear you down. You CAN practice how you choose to take it. You are in control of that. All it takes is a few tricks and the willingness to put them into action.