5 Ways to Cope with Catastrophe or Change

Something bad has happened.

You might not have seen it coming, but it’s here and you’ve got to cope. I’m not going to trivialize anyone’s struggles by comparing your situation to mine. I have friends who would gladly swap their circumstances for a burned out house in a heartbeat! But here’s what I’m learning as I navigate my way through a change I didn’t ask for:

1. Name your fears. You might not be living a worst case scenario, but it could be mighty close to that. It might loom large in your mind, consuming much of your focus and energy. You can think up all kinds of negatives if you draw your present circumstances out to their possible conclusions. The best way to face reality is to write them down. Chances are that the worst will not happen. It’s just as likely things will get better. It’s possible you’ll be surprised by something good in the end.

2. Plan for a new reality. Name one positive outcome you’d like to see happen and hold it in front of you like a beacon. Let it guide you to focus on something of substance. The 80/20 rule states that 20% of our effort generates 80% of the outcome. A small percentage of focus creates the majority of results. It doesn’t require massive amounts of energy – just leverage your strengths. Become like a laser. Shine the spotlight on one success you’d like to target.

3. List the benefits. There will be some. Not every situation results in positives but most will. Make a list. A good way to state them is, “If it hadn’t been for ‘X’, then ‘Y’ wouldn’t have happened. After my house burned down, we discovered my well had been drilled right next to my leach field, the septic tank was leaking and our gas line ran from a connection in my neighbor’s front yard with no easement agreement! New construction took care of all those code problems.

4. Break free from the spin cycle. Do you notice a new habit you’ve formed since the “incident”? Are you procrastinating? Have you isolated yourself? Do you avoid certain places or faces? Have you developed a behavior that doubles as comfort food? (It brings temporary solace, but isn’t healthy in the long run.) Perhaps you’ve buried yourself in a blanket to avoid risks and threats. End that habit and replace it with a new one – a better one.

5. Mind the way you model for others. You might not think of yourself as a role model, but you are. There are co-workers, neighbors, friends and family watching how you handle yourself. They’re not looking for ways to “catch” you, but are definitely paying attention. They wonder, “How would I handle this, if I were in her shoes?” It’s understandable to have a “moment” or two. It’s also inspiring to show grace under pressure and give those around you courage to face their own fears and frustrations. You have no idea how highly people think of you!

You CAN cope. Take it one step at a time. Break this thing down into bits and focus on one issue a day, or a week. Remember what you’ve learned from previous encounters with trouble and trauma? You will get through this and come out on the other side a much stronger, resilient, compassionate person. You will be changed for the better!

What have you learned from previous encounters with trouble and trauma? How did you get through it? (Tell us in the comments below)