9 Things To Do When You’re Probably Thinking That This Can’t Be Happening
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“You’re probably thinking that this can’t be happening.” How often have you said that to yourself in the third person? If you’re a little like me, then there are too many times to count.
You see, life is like a professional batsman who keeps throwing curve balls at unimaginable speeds, and we’re the catchers. Sometimes we catch the ball, and other times the ball takes a deflection from the bat and hits you right in the gonads.
Everything we do has a chance of going horribly wrong and leaving us saying, “this just can’t be happening.” You could be doing something as simple as walking, and the wrong step twists your ankle. Or you could be going to work for a presentation when a bird decides that your shirt is great for pooping.
In such times, it’s easy to ask, “why is this happening to me?” There’s nothing wrong with that. You have every right to express frustration because it might make you feel a little better to let your feelings out. But that isn’t going to fix the situation, is it?
So what do you do when life decides you don’t deserve nice things? We have some thoughts on that.
Take a breath and calm down
When the unexpected happens, especially when it is negative, we get a sudden rush of emotions. There is confusion, sadness, anger, and disbelief. In time these are all replaced by either of two emotions, anger, sadness, or even both.
We react to these emotions in various ways. Some might scream and curse the universe, and others might just want to call it quits the day and go to bed.
Neither of those things is helpful and can even make you feel worse. In times like these, you should be focused on getting past whatever has you saying, “I can’t believe what’s happening to me.”
The first step to gaining control of the situation is to calm down. Research shows that making decisions in high-stress situations will most likely return to haunt you.
You know yourself best and so know how to calm yourself down. So, take a deep breath, draw upon your relaxation strategies, and take charge of your emotions.
Accept that life happens
Once you have calmed down enough, the next step is to accept that the situation has happened and there isn’t any time machines to use and reverse it.
Tell yourself that everyone goes through terrible moments every now and then, and today is simply your turn.
You could even remind yourself of a terrible moment someone you know recently went through to convince yourself that life can suck. For many, this can calm them down further, which is good because a calmer mind is needed for what comes next.
Decide your next steps
While you’re probably thinking that this can’t be happening (whatever it is), there are some questions you need to ask yourself. Answering these would provide you with your next moves and motivation to do them.
These questions include:
- Should I continue doing what I’m doing or think of alternatives?
- If I continue, can the situation be salvaged?
- What are the benefits of continuing v. moving on?
- What are the costs of continuing v. moving on?
- What skills do I need to salvage the situation?
- Do I need the assistance of anyone, and how do I need them?
If you can provide good enough answers to these questions, the foundation of a plan will be formed. As you go along, more questions will come up, but you will be better prepared to deal with them after you deal with these earlier ones.
Come up with short-term goals
After deciding on your next course of action, you need to break it down into short-term goals. This makes your task easier because you just have to do one thing at a time.
For instance, in our example of a bird pooping on your shirt just before an interview, you can start by calling your boss to explain you’ll be a little late. Then decide if you can still get back home to get a new shirt or clean off the excretion in the office bathroom and use the hot air dryer to get it ready faster.
Basically, your next move shouldn’t be you saying, “this can’t be happening to me,” but coming up with actions that can get you out of your problem and are within your power to do as well.
Put those goals into action
Now that you know what needs to be done and your next steps, it’s time to go into action mode.
Start with the first couple of goals, see how they go, and follow through with the next couple. This is important because it allows you to evaluate your moves to see if they work. If they aren’t, you can develop new goals and keep going.
The important thing is that, like Johnny Walker, you keep walking. Getting through goals – however minor they are – will serve as motivation to do more. Before you know it, you’ll be totally out of the “I didn’t expect this, this can’t be happening” mindset.
I’m not gonna lie to you. Just because you are well on your way out of a bad situation doesn’t mean you’ll automatically feel better. Your emotional recovery time depends on the situation that has got you thinking this is not reality and is not happening to you.
Those negative emotions can be a drag on your efforts to restore normalcy, so if and when they do pop up, you need you some motivation.
There are several ways you can get this. For instance, you could remind yourself of tough situations you’ve gotten through in the past. You could also call someone you consider your support system to hype you up.
And for good ol’ fashion motivation, you could listen to music which according to Therapy Group of DC, is one of the top ways to relieve stress. You never know, you could have your very own “Eye of the Tiger – Rocky Balboa Philadelphia Museum of Art” moment.
Motivation works. That’s a fact.
Think about why the situation happened
After you’ve been through the worst of the situation and things are relatively calmer, your next step should be to think about the situation that happened.
Bad things can happen randomly, but for the most part, there are patterns that lead to them. That’s why you need to think of what happened so that you can find out why it happened and take action next time it happens.
Try to think of what incidents led up to that moment and list any red flags you noticed. You need to note these red flags because they will provide an early warning system for such moments repeating themselves in the future.
If you can, try to remind yourself of these red flags periodically so you can always be on the lookout for trouble.
If the unexpected was a breakup, check out Questions to Ask a Friend After a Breakup.
Come up with contingencies
Knowing why this terrible episode happened is only half of it; you also need to take concrete steps to ensure that you can avoid such situations in the future.
John R. R. Tolkien said, “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” The situation that had you thinking that it couldn’t be happening is your dragon, and the fact that it happened to you means it lives near you.
So take some time and think of backups for when such situations happen. That way, instead of thinking like this can’t be happening, you’ll be thinking, “oh, this again? What’s new?”
A great advantage of this is that you will have peace of mind because you will know that such a traumatic experience won’t happen as easily as before.
It’s all well and good to think that because we are passed a situation, our feelings are past them as well. But those things have a mind of their own and can come back to mess with you at the worst possible time. Especially if what you went through was quite traumatic.
To avoid that, you need to practice some self-introspection. If you still feel bad, that’s okay because the worst is over, and you have come up with ways of avoiding such situations in the future. Now all you need to do is take the time to move on.
If you need help to move on properly, don’t hesitate to reach out to your support system. If they aren’t enough, therapy is an option.
There’s no shame in going to therapy because these experts can give you more customized advice related to your particular situation. If you’re worried about therapy costs, two things: your mental health is worth it, and there are cheaper options such as online therapy.
Do what you need to do to get better.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I deal with unexpected events?
- Accept that it has happened, and there’s no going back.
- Try your best to think positively because it’ll motivate you.
- Come up with plans to deal with the event.
- Implement these plans in stages and reevaluate them to ensure you’re going in the right direction.
- Reach out to your support system if you need some extra motivation.
- Reflect on what has happened to find ways to get over it the next time it happens.
How do you feel when something unexpected happens?
Your feelings when something unexpected happens depends on what happened. For positive events, you might feel confused and disoriented, but overall there will be happiness and thrill that things worked out in your favor.
Negative events will have the opposite overall feeling, however. Along with feelings of confusion, you might feel anger, sadness, and a sense of hopelessness. At such times, engaging in activities that make you feel better is important because a positive mindset is needed to move past the incident.
What is the most important thing to remember when life throws unexpected events at you?
You need to remember that no situation is permanent. You will eventually get over this unexpected and unwanted event, so there’s little need to dwell on the hopelessness that follows.
Rather, curse the world just for a moment. Then think of ways of getting back on your feet while motivating yourself to carry out those plans.
All in all…
Sometimes you can go through a situation so bad that you notice people around you can see that you’re probably thinking that this can’t be happening.
When this happens, don’t hang your head in shame and retreat into a cave of despair to let the hopelessness fester. Sure, you can scream at the world for a moment, but only a moment. You’re still alive and still got some living to do.
So chin up, make plans, and pull yourself to a better position. Don’t give up. Never give up. No situation is permanent.
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