How Do You Respond When Unexpected Life Challenges Knock You To Your Knees?


Life itself is a series of problem-solving. That’s what we do. We move through each day on various levels of energy, sometimes easy going and sometimes difficult. Everything affects everything else. So with experience, we learn what to expect and how to handle what we encounter. And we do pretty well in that environment. But what about those unexpected situations that suddenly arise without warning. Sometimes they seem to come out of nowhere and may be the result of our own actions. Most of the time they’re fixable situations, but some can put your life in turmoil.

“It’s the unexpected that changes our lives.”   Unknown

Some unexpected situations may seem fairly minor but can skyrocket your stress level….like when you’re ready for work and discover your car has a flat time or you forget to register your kid for summer camp; etc. Those situations can force you in a direction you didn’t know was coming.

On a more serious side, you suddenly lose your job; or a major health issue invades your life and robs you of your independence. A few years ago after a hurricane had passed, a gigantic tree limb crashed to the ground in my back yard. I was grateful it spared my house, but the thundering sound was deafening, and I was frozen to the shaking floor. Removing that tree limb became a major challenge.

Another time through no fault of mine, I was suddenly in a serious car wreck. I spent 2 months in residential treatment, and went from a wheelchair to a walker and then a cane. Recovery was long and hard, and I didn’t drive for a year. Serious yet, if you suddenly lose a loved one, this kind of unexpected trauma requires some inner healing and time with others close to you for understanding and comfort. And the loss may always be there.

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”   ~Virginia Satir

We all respond in different ways to the unexpected. Sometimes the first response is to get hung up on ‘What ifs’. What if I’m late for work; what if my kid thinks I forgot because I don’t care; What if I can’t find another job; what if I never get well; what if there’s another limb ready to fall; what if I’ll never walk again; what if I can’t recover. Or you might dive right in with an immediate action. If there’s danger like a fire, you’d probably swallow your panic and get help right away.

“What gets measured, gets managed.”   ~Peter Drucker

Unless you’re facing an emergency, your first concern should be what you’re feeling inside. Panic, even the initial stress, can cloud your mind, and you could miss your best options for a solution. Just a few moments within can make a big difference in your outcome. If you can, let the problem be, and identify what’s going on inside. What are you feeling….panic, fear, trauma, anger, regret, sadness, grief? What is it, and how severe? Notice your breathing. Any racing thoughts? Now take some deep breaths, and allow your body and mind to let go as much as possible. And give up the ‘what ifs’ and ‘ain’t it awful’….

When you’re a little calmer, just step back and gauge the size of the mountain. Ask, “How big is it really? What can I do about it? What happens if I can’t fix it? Where can I find help if I need it? etc.” Meet each day knowing you have what it takes to handle whatever comes up. And those puddles may not be as deep as they seem.

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.”   ~Unknown 

If an unexpected situation is a result of your own mistake, never condemn yourself. Adding a problem to the one you already have does nothing beneficial. So don’t do it. Instead, say some affirmations. “I am strong enough to lick this tiger and smart enough to find a clear road ahead.”  Sometimes an unexpected difficulty now is the very thing that may lead you to that clear road ahead. Look for it with clear vision.

I wish you Peace in your Heart along the way.

Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer

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6 thoughts on “How Do You Respond When Unexpected Life Challenges Knock You To Your Knees?

  1. Hi there! I just came across this post of yours and your blog in general and I couldn’t help but comment and tell you how much I love this! Keep up the great work, I am going to follow you so I can keep up with all your new posts!

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