9 Ways to Cope When Bad Things Happen

Light Rain

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

Have you ever experienced times when you go through just one bad thing after another? When it seems like the world is out to get you? When things go wrong no matter what you do?

You are not alone. Bad things happen to all of us too, including me. I experienced a small set back recently which I want to share with you.

Not too long ago, I was working on my upcoming eBook. It was my #1 priority project at that time and I had been working on it tirelessly, day and night. After lots of hard work, I was 90% done. At that time, it was 630 pages. (The final book was almost 800 pages.)

I was happy with the progress. Cover done, foreword written, articles in place, right order, formatting done, layout completed—it was on track to launch in a week’s time.

Unfortunate Turn of Events

One evening after I got home, I sat at my computer and opened my document, ready to start work. Imagine my horrified look when I looked at the document and saw the cover design was an older version.

Bewildered, I checked the page count. It was 430 pages, 200 pages lesser than my latest version! This was an old version I was working on a few days ago. I was flabbergasted.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. I had always been careful with my documents, especially having experienced painful reworks before from document crashes and what not. It seemed there was a software error which caused an older version of my file to save over the new version, even though I had saved the latest version.

I was almost done with the book, ready to launch and my latest file disappeared. It was disheartening and honestly, somewhat depressing.

After fiddling around for fifteen minutes, I came to terms that the latest version was gone. Two hundred pages of material and endless hours of hard work—all gone.

Focusing on What Could Be Done

Interestingly, while I felt bummed, I wasn’t hung up about it. Almost immediately after I realized the document was really gone, I got right to work.

I listed down what changes were lost in the old version so I could redo them. I added them on my to-do list and mapped out my schedule so I could still meet the original launch date. I was determined to meet my launch timing and I was not about to let this hiccup throw me off.

Was I frustrated? Sure I was. There were thoughts of “Aw shucks, I should have backed it up manually” and “How did this even happen?” but those thoughts were fleeting. They didn’t bog me down. If anything, I felt more charged up than anything.

While a good chunk of work was gone, I was focused on how I could get back on track, since lamenting what happened wouldn’t accomplish anything.

Our Negative Coping Behaviors

There are many possible negative things that can happen to us in a day—from the little things like coffee spilling, being caught in a traffic jam, losing our keys, having people criticize you, to the bigger mishaps like getting into a car accident, losing our valuables, breaking up from relationships, or losing our jobs.

Whenever something bad happens to us, it’s easy for us to slip into one of the following behaviors:

  • Self-victimization. We ask ourselves “Why is this happening to me? Why am I so unlucky? Why doesn’t this happen to anyone else? It’s not fair!”
  • Reacting in anger. We lash back at the situation, or even people around us, for what’s happening.
  • Self-blame. We make self-depreciating comments like “Why am I so stupid to have done that?” “Only someone like myself can make such a dumb mistake.”
  • Slipping into depression. For those of us who have faced cases of depression before, we might fall back if we’re not careful at managing our emotions.
  • Dejection or giving up. We lose hope, or worse still, we give up. We decide it’s not worth it, that life is out to get us, and we should just stop trying altogether.

9 Tips to Cope With Negative Situations

The thing is, as long as you live in this world, you are subjected to the same chaos, the ups and downs, the good and bad, the positives and the negatives of life. You are not the only person facing this.

What sets you apart from others though, is how you choose to deal with this situation. Here are my personal steps to cope with bad situations and create something good out of them:

1. Release your frustrations.

Don’t bottle them up because you might just implode. Talk to a friend about it. A listening ear does wonders. Go exercise and release the tension. Journal it out.

2. Realize you are not alone.

No matter what you may think, you’re not alone in this. Somewhere around the world, someone else is thinking the exact same thing as you. Someone out there is feeling down and out too, wondering why she is experiencing this. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

3. Being frustrated isn’t going to solve anything.

The problem will still remain whether you go berserk at it or whether you think about it calmly. The former will create more problems as your agitation prevents you from making good decisions. I knew remaining frustrated was not going to help me get my 200 pages back, so I focused on what could be done instead (#6).

4. Know you always have a choice.

Realize no matter what happens, you always have a choice in how you react. While you may not be able to control what happens to you, you can most certainly control your behaviors. You can face the worst things in the world, but if you make the choice not to let yourself be affected by them, you won’t be.

5. Objectify it.

An incident is an incident; we’re responsible for the feelings attached. Remove the feelings and look at the situation objectively. This will help us cope a lot better.

6. Focus on what you can do.

Action creates empowerment. It brings possibilities. It creates results. By taking action, you are no longer a passive recipient. You are a conscious creator.

7. Ask for help if you need to.

It’s okay to ask for help if it makes the situation easier. Remember, you are not alone in this (#2).

8. See it as an obstacle to be overcome.

Life is a journey of learning and growth, and everything happens for a reason. Obstacles are the things stopping you from getting your goals, and if you keep overcoming these obstacles, you’ll eventually get what you want.

9. Identify the lesson learned.

There are always things to be learned from every situation. For me, I learned to rigorously back-up everything I’m doing now—even saving files in different versions so I can still recover the last version if the latest version ever gets destroyed.

No matter what bad stuff life throws your way, as long as you cope with it constructively, nothing can get you down.

What has been useful for you? Feel free to share with everyone in the comments area below.

About Celestine Chua

Celestine Chua writes at Personal Excellence on how to achieve personal excellence and live your best life. Get her free ebook 101 Things To Do Before You Die now by signing up for her newsletter (100% free, unsubscribe whenever you want). Get her RSS feed directly and add her on Twitter @celestinechua.

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