Where I live, only the drunks drive straight! The rest of us swerve deftly (most of the time) around potholes that could hide a ten ton truck. This got me thinking that life can often be like that.
You know those oh s#!t, how did I fall into this hole and how the hell can I get out feeling? It often starts quite innocently; a choice that seemed right at the time; a situation you just slipped into. It looked easy enough to navigate in the beginning. There were no warning signs. Or were there, but you weren’t paying attention?
Either way, now that you’re bogged down to your axles, you find yourself spinning your wheels desperately—which only digs the hole deeper.
There is nothing as terrifying as feeling powerless to get yourself out of a situation that has you trapped.
You keep wondering how you got yourself into this mess, why you didn’t see it coming, what caused it, and wondering how on earth you’re going to escape.
The thing is that once the stress spiral has claimed your brain, it’s impossible to navigate your way out. So, while the quick sands of panic suck you deeper, you are more and more powerless to escape. How could something that seemed such a good idea at the time end up making you feel so trapped?
This may be a poor business decision, bankruptcy, a debt trap, a relationship gone terribly wrong, or a lifestyle choice that has you caught in a web you have no idea how to get out of.
When we’re children, we assume we have 4WD—or that someone who does will come to the rescue. We embrace the rolleroaster of life, potholes and all, and aren’t afraid to ask for help if we get stuck. We’re filled with curiosity, confidence and an urge to explore.
But all too often as we grow up this belief in our innate power to cope with ‘off-road’ conditions is systematically squeezed out of us—in words and actions. Sometimes this is done unconsciously by well meaning people, who plant doubt, limitation and fear in our minds through constant criticism, simplistic labeling, judgment and prejudice.
Often we’re our own worst critics….
The media messages you plug into play an important part too. Because this barrage is so strident and so consistent—sooner or later you start to believe the lie—and feeling powerless becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
Have you fallen for this scam – been convinced that you’re powerless when you’re not?
Well here are 25 tips to help you survive when the s#!t hits the fan:
1. Have realistic expectations. Life will have potholes. Only the depth will vary, and no matter how smart you are, you will fall into some of them. That’s how we learn.
2. Don’t get stuck in what was. Deal with what is – and know your strengths and weaknesses.
3. Do a risk assessment, before you dive in head first. Don’t get sucked in by seductive stories. Insist on specifics and evaluate the evidence.
4. Remember that when the road gets rough, it’s not an ambush laid specifically for you. It’s just the way things are.
5. Stop if you’re taking strain. If you’re showing signs of wear and tear—pull over for a while and do some repairs and maintenance.
6. Falling into a hole is one thing. Being buried in it is another. Choose to act like a resourceful survivor. The moment you identify yourself as a victim, you’re automatically digging the hole deeper.
7. Remember the tough stuff is temporary.
8. Getting unstuck is way more important than what people think.
9. Reframe – use your mental zoom-out key to get perspective.
10. Don’t take it personally – you don’t hold the franchise for crisis, challenge and change, even if it feels that way right now.
11. Keep your emotions on a tight leash. Evaluate the options objectively.
12. Take responsibility for any part you played in creating this crisis. If you don’t, history will keep repeating itself.
13. Be flexible rather than rigid – adjust your perceptions and strategy to suit the situation.
14. Know where you can influence change—and focus your attention there.
15. Look for opportunities in the midst of chaos.
16. Keep yourself mentally, emotionally and physically fit – you’ll bounce back more quickly.
17. Remember, if you’ve survived before, you can do it again.
18. Redefine failure – unless you’re skydiving without a parachute it’s not fatal, and can often provide the answers you’re looking for.
19. Don’t lose sight of all the things that haven’t gone pear shaped. It balances the picture.
20. When the earth’s giving way beneath your feet – move somewhere else.
21. Be resourceful and creative – think like there is no box.
22. Look for the ‘diamonds’ unearthed by upheavals.
23. Trust yourself – I bet you’re infinitely more resilient than you think you are.
24. Adapt! Cacti don’t cry because there’s no water – they store it. The sperm whale doesn’t starve to death. She stores oxygen in her blood cells, so she can dive deep to eat. Elephants don’t stand around saying phew, this heat is killing me! They swim and use their ears as fans.
25. Know when there’s no alternative but to embrace the inevitable – don’t waste energy fighting a battle you can’t win. Pain happens. Prolonged suffering is a choice.
Most of all remember that when survivors get stuck, they reach out.
Just like you’d call a tow truck should your car disappear into a pothole, survivors surround themselves with an expert support team. They help each other when they get stuck.
Do you feel you need a ‘tow truck’ on your team right now? Then click here.