5 ways to handle life’s unexpected events without freaking out

Diver surrounded by fish - Barracuda tornado

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In one minute, in one conversation, in one interaction, life can take a turn that was never expected. What happens when you’re faced with the unexpected?

Here are 5 tools that will help you creatively move from emotional calamity to calm during unexpected events.

Every day, there are unnerving distractions or happy accidents that are often distortions of what was expected to occur.

Grief expert Edy Nathan MA, LCSW says, “When we wake up in the morning, we have an idea of what will happen in our day, but we are not prepared for the unexpected — yet on a daily basis, we are faced with the unexpected.”

Nathan believes that how people react to external stimuli gives an insight into the coping styles utilized by each individual.

The emotional responses to the storms that have passed through much of the country affect people in a myriad of ways.

For some, the nature of weather is part of the landscape of life and they move with it and through it with an emotional grace — while others rigidly respond to the weather with emotions that include anxiety, anger and helplessness.

Little things can snowball

Nathan shares a story about how even little interactions that are spontaneous can potentially get out of control.

“I got into a taxi the day before the storm, and the driver screamed that he was not going to drive in the snow, he hated the snow, and went on and on with his rant. I’m thinking, ‘Why do you live here?’, but I remain silent.

“I realized in that moment that our responses to something that is out of our hands mirrors the way we react when we are not in control.

“Since I did not respond to his tirade, and did not engage with him, I held onto myself and let him go on his agitated rant. If I joined him, there was a very good chance that I would become agitated, as well.

“That’s the goal, hold onto yourself even when rage is happening around you.”

How one reacts to the weather may lead to insight as to how other external stimuli — things that are overtly out of one’s control — is handled.

Is internal angst a response to that which is unable to be controlled? Is emotional finesse or unrestrained, agitated folly when there is the inability to control the response to what cannot be controlled?

Nathan says, “This is more focused on how one holds onto the self during the stormy times in life. Whether a storm of nature or within intimate relationships, it is vitally important to learn to roll with the unexpected forces that we all meet every day.”

Here are 2 questions to ask when feeling overwhelmed or trapped by life’s storms

1. If you were overwhelmed or feeling trapped by snowstorms, heat or cold, what do the emotional responses reveal?

2. What would need to change for you to be able to roll with the external stimuli in such a way that, instead of meeting the agitation as an aggregate aspect of the self, instead “you meet a part of you who chooses calm instead of internal calamity.”

5 steps from calamity to calm

Here are the 5 tools that Nathan shares to creatively change from emotional calamity to calm.

1. In the morning, think about what new challenges will be presented: There will be something in the day that is unexpected, even if it is traffic.

2. Prepare a response to the unknown that can be used at any time and in any situation.

3. Breathe, always. It’s easy as breathe in 1, 2, 3 — and breathe out 1, 2, 3.

4. Remember a time when any challenge faced was overcome with integrity.

5. Assess how the stress was handled: What worked and what didn’t? Tomorrow is another day to try what is learned through the assessment. Then start the next day by taking what was learned — and use it.

Lilyvolt Editors

Lilyvolt Editors

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