Shit happens, it’s a fact of life. Two years ago this autumn, I woke up to the unexpected sound of the front door closing just before 8 a.m. That’s odd, I thought. My husband was always at work by now.
Did he forget something?
He came into the bedroom looking calm but… outside of his body somehow. He sat down on the bed and said, “I was just let go from my job.” He took off his jacket, and we remained in shocked silence.
It was a surprise for both of us.
But even in this surprising situation, there was something we didn’t do: panic. I’ve been let go before. So have many people I know. And when shit happens like this, I feel oddly calm.
In life, unfortunate things are guaranteed to happen at some point. You might lose a job, get dumped or get some bad news from the doctor. But you don’t need to fall apart.
Here’s what to do when it’s too late to expect the unexpected:
1. Foster some perspective.
Whatever you are going through, ask yourself: Is it the end of the world? It’s rarely as bad as you may think in the moment you first receive the news.
What perspective can you bring to your current situation? Will it matter in one year, two years, five years?
My friend who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few years ago explained it by saying, “It’s a bit of an inconvenience from time to time, but overall my life is pretty much the same.” How’s that for an attitude?
2. Believe you can figure it out. (Hey, you have before!)
What else have you survived before the current problem? I survived the death of my father and a divorce before I was 25. I always remember these experiences and others I’ve been through when a new struggle hits.
Let the past struggles you’ve overcome fuel your ability to conquer new bumps that appear in the road.
3. Shit happens to everyone (so know you are not alone—ever).
I always find it comforting to know that no matter what shit happens to me, there are people out there going through the same thing. The first thing I did the morning my husband came home was call two of my friends whose husbands were also laid off in recent months.
After talking to them, I had even greater perspective on the situation we were in. Immediately I exhaled—it was proof of how universal these circumstances are. It reminded me: It’s OK! The same can apply to breakups, betrayals, loss—anything.
You are not the first person to go through what you’re going through, and you certainly won’t be the last.
4. Ask for help. (It’s OK!)
There’s an old saying that a problem shared is a problem halved.
Heck, we’re all human, and we’re all in this together. Calling my friends and telling them the news about my husband helped me stay calm.
Just sharing my surprise and feeling them nod over the phone (and even making me laugh!) took what could have become an even bigger weight off my shoulders. They gave me some great practical advice, too.
Side note: It’s a bonus if the people who you turn to for help have a good sense of humor. Find these people!
5. Get busy.
Nothing, nothing, nothing replaces action in life. Did you offend a friend you love? Call and apologize. Are you getting some unexpected rain on your outdoor wedding day? Find cute umbrellas for the guests. Your S.O. broke up with you? Plan fun “you time” to center yourself, and remember you are whole no matter what.
Got laid off unexpectedly? Get out there and get busy networking!
6. Plan ahead
Never have I felt more grateful for my business than the day my husband was let go from his job. It meant that we had options.
It was not as devastating as it might have been if I hadn’t pursued an entrepreneurial path. Because we diversified before we “had” to.
We were not reliant on his pay check nor are we dependent on any single source of income. And I realized fully with mega-watt appreciation – my “job” can never be taken away from me…
Because my side hustle turned full time business belongs to us. And where it continues to lead? That’s also up to us. How awesome.
Remember above all that being defeated is a temporary condition. Only giving up hurts us in the long run. And that is entirely up to you.
So often we’re told to expect the unexpected, but it’s easier said than done. What do you do when shit happens?