Coping with the Unexpected
The unexpected strikes us all. Whether you adopt a regimented routine, live by your prioritized To-Do list, or tackle your day by whatever strikes your mood, odds are your plans are or have been disrupted and you’ve had to change gears and modify your plan.
Sometimes, an unexpected project or assignment pops up. Sometimes it’s a visitor—in person or on the phone—that eats into your time and you must revamp or switch gears or put off what you intended to do for what you now must do. And now you must do it, strapped for time.
When this happens—and it does happen to us all—as significant to the event itself is our reaction to it. We can moan and groan about the “upset” in our day and not getting to do as we wished (or needed to) or we can accept that plans change and focus on what we can do now to minimize the disruption or upset.
The upset well might be valid, but whether or not it is, it is real and done. Our wisest choice is to accept it and press on, doing what we can to get back to our plans.
If we are stuck on the problem, we’re not focusing on the solution. The more time spent not focusing on the solution is the more time wasted. We lose not only the time, energy, and effort that the disruption caused, but we also lose all we would have accomplished in the time we spent lamenting the disruption loss. That’s a lose/lose situation. Losses piling on losses. Who needs that?
Instead, accept the loss and turn to the solution. Focus on what can be done now. Be realistic about the situation and don’t waste time or energy or effort trying to rewrite history. There’s a reason for the old saying about only historians and politicians can do that. Besides, complaining isn’t constructive. It does nothing to change the situation and offers no aid in getting back on track with your plans. Just makes you more discontent and feeds your upset. Not smart or productive to do either of those things.
Let me share an example. About a month ago, I had a regular doctor’s visit for a checkup. I allotted two hours for the appointment and scheduled multiple tasks I needed to do for a new book launch. The doctor’s visit ended up with me having a surgery right then and there. While relatively minor, it was enough to knock me out of doing anything for the next week. A week heavily scheduled for the new book launch.
Now a writer spends a lot of time writing a book. And a lot of time, effort and energy getting that book through the production process. Launch time is supposed to be reward time. A time when the writer celebrates finally getting to share the book with the world. That launch time is task-intensive, but it’s the fun part. Except when it isn’t. Like when the author is sidelined during it and doesn’t get to do anything related to it.
Disappointing? Oh, yes. That said, one can gripe and complain, throw a tizzy fit, shed tears or react in other emotional ways, but none of those reactions change a thing—except you expend more effort and energy and feel worse for the emotional outburst or upset in addition to being in pain from the surgery. Again, who needs that?
What good comes from it? None. So instead, I accepted the reality of the situation I found myself in. Not what I wanted or needed, but we all know that there’s a time to be fanciful and a time to be practical. This was practical time, so I accepted I would miss out on my reward and didn’t waste energy bellyaching about it. I focused all I had on healing.
When I started feeling better, I started revamping my schedule to do what I could do to get the word out about the new book. Was that as effective as the new book launch I’d planned? No. Nowhere close. But it was the best I could do. Had to accept that, too.
Adding insult to injury, this book was Down and Dead in Dallas. I’d already had it ready to launch—everything scheduled, all the work for the original launch done—once before this surgical interruption. But at that same time of the original launch there was the attack in Dallas that ended in the deaths of five police officers.
Lousy timing halted that launch. I couldn’t release a book with that title at the time of a tragedy in that city, and the title had been established in a prior book, so changing it wasn’t an option. I had to postpone the release. It was the right thing to do out of respect for the officers, their families and the city, so I did postpone and reschedule. Then this unexpected surgery happened.
So my reward time on this new book launch was foiled not once but twice. Deeply disappointed? You bet. Frustrated? Of course. But practical set in quickly. Reality is what it is.
This isn’t a perfect world, and few things in life are ever perfect. We deal with what we must when we must or life chews us up and spits us out. I’m not eager to be chewed up or spit out willingly. There’s nothing constructive in it. And it is in that attitude that we find a reasonable way to cope with the unexpected.
We have two ways to look at our lives. We can focus on what’s right or on what’s wrong. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which offers us more time feeling joyful and which offers us more time feeling oppressed or depressed. I’m going for joyful. Enough that’s not joyful finds us easily enough on its own. I’m not going to help it steal more of my joy.
The world has always had issues. So long as there are human beings, there will be disagreements, strife, and troubles. There will be unexpected events with which we must cope. It’s human nature.
Navigating life isn’t always easy or fun, and that’s the simple truth. Sometimes we do all the work and we don’t get to enjoy the rewards. Some say that’s not fair. But who promised fairness? No one. Fact is, we all endure our share of ups and downs. We can let them break us, or we can cope with them. If we learn to cope well, we’ll spend more time healthy and balanced than if we don’t. That’s incentive to accept what we can’t change and look for constructive solutions.
We each live a life. A life filled with good and bad times, with situations and events we love and ones we hate. We enjoy successes and failures, we get our way and lose to others’ ways.
At its best, life is a blend of both sides of everything. We enjoy the good times and learn valuable lessons like compassion in the rough times. Thousands of years of history prove no one is exempt. We all laugh. We all cry. And we all bleed red.
That understanding should encourage us to be kind to one another. We know everyone suffers hard knocks and tough times. Everyone. Friends or enemies. Many mistake kindness for weakness, but that’s due to flawed thinking. Having endured hard knocks and being kind and not bitter requires great strength. Great strength. Honed humanity.
And that understanding sufficiently proves it isn’t what happens in our lives that sets the tone of our lives. How we react to what happens sets that tone. Our reactions have the greatest power to impact and influence our lives.
The good news in grasping these things is they give us evidence. Of what? That while we might not be in control we are not out of control. Our reaction, we choose.
In even a bad situation, we can cope with the unexpected. We can cope constructively with our humanity intact. And that is an amazing reward.
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© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest release is The Marked Star. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. KNOW IT FIRST! Subscribe to Vicki’s Monthly Newsletter!