Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dealing With The Unexpected

Nobody is impervious to the obstacles that life will throw in your path--and that includes me.  I've had a few obstacles come along over the last several weeks that I've really struggled with. That's why I decided to write on this topic today.  That's just the way life is.   When you least expect it, life will come along and sucker punch you if you aren't prepared.

Prepared?  How do you prepare for the unexpected?
Well you don't really, but don't we all know somebody we look to in an emergency.  That person that you'd describe as unflappable.  The person that seems just a little better able to cope during a crisis?  What makes them that way?

I think you'll find one thing true about these resilient individuals--they are realists.  They don't go through life believing that nothing bad is ever going to happen.  They understand that there is an awful lot in life that we can't control, and they accept that reality.  And another thing you'll find is that they are better adapted to deal with change than most people, because they know change is inevitable.  It's not so much preparing for the unexpected as it is a mindset of how we view life.

So many of us live in a fantasy world--we don't want to accept the world the way it is, so we insulate ourselves with delusions that the world should be a perfect place.  And because we are unable to deal with that reality, the tiniest little problem can upset our entire world.  We know that person don't we?  That person that turns the tiniest little insignificant problem into a crisis the likes of which the world has never seen before! 

I worked with a woman like that some years back--it was exhausting.  I'll give you one example (out of hundreds).  One morning, she backed into a parked car at the mall, and you'd think her world had ended.  It dinged her bumper, but left a huge dent in the other persons door.  This little every day problem ruined her entire week (and mine I might add). 

Now had it been me, I'd have called my insurance guy, and that would have been the end of.  Things happen, right?  That's why you have insurance.  But with her it was an endless source of anger and frustration.  The guy she hit didn't have insurance, and she went on and on about that.  So what--you hit him, right?  Well, he was parked where he shouldn't have been.  So what--it's legal to ram into cars that are parked where they shouldn't be?  Well, my insurance is going up!  Why are you surprised by that--you were in an accident that was due to your own negligence.  Of course it's going up. Like I said, those years were exhausting. 

This was one a ten crises she had going on in her life at any given time, and not one single one of them amounted to anything at all.  She's a perfect example of what my wife and I mean when we say suppressing a grin "life can be very complicated for some people."  And believe it or not, sometimes things really are your fault.  Learn to see that and accept it, and you'll be a lot happier--it's much simpler and less stressful to simply say "oops" than trying to figure out how something you did is somebody else's fault.

The problem with living in a sheltered fantasy world is that when real problems come along, the really big stuff, you have no skills to deal with it.  If you can't cope with the neighbor's dog pooping in your yard and him not picking it up, you're never going to survive the rigors of the real world. 

What's the best way to deal with the unexpected?  Live in the real world.  Learn to accept life as it really is--and nobody gets out of this life alive.  Learn to accept that there are always going to be things you can't control, and learn to identify the difference between what you can control and what you can't control.  And learn to cope with the small stuff without turning it into big stuff--most of life's problems can be categorized as small stuff.  Figure out how to resolve it, and move on without dwelling on it.  If you can't deal with the small stuff, you'll never survive the really big stuff.  And believe me, there's always something big that's going to come along when you least expect it.

The best favor you can do for yourself is to take off those rose-colored glasses and have a look around at the real world.  Life is a lot less complicated here.


Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel Shot to Hell which will be released in Spring 2014

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